A strange thing is happening this August: it’s not very hot. I’m wearing a scarf. Our air conditioner is silent and it’s dripping building juice on to absolutely no one, which is a shame if you consider the fact that during mid-to-late-August one expects a very present and consistent reminder that it is, in fact, still summer.
Like an old hook up who inevitably comes out of the wainscoting the moment you meet someone new, however, the heat will be back. The humidity’s going to attack in the final week and linger (I promise you) through that first week of September, and if you’re wondering how I know this then may I lightly suggest that I’m psychic.
The point is that the promise of heat is imminent. Its accompanying sweat-related etiquette issues will once again rise like the phoenixes of eyesores that they are, and it’s my fault, really, for not providing this guide sooner. But as periods say after a 2-week-long pregnancy scare: better late than never. So let’s get started.
Deodorant In Public
I think the most oft-repeated email I receive asks the question, “Is it ever ok to apply deodorant in public?” This makes me wonder whether or not a deodorant representative and I have a very similar email address. It also clearly states the fact that this is something we as individuals with sweat glands grapple with on a universal level. My general rule-of-thumb regarding public applications is to ask yourself, “Would I be grossed out if someone else did it in public?” If the answer is yes, then the answer to your first question is no.
Exception to the rule: when you are around friends and they can create a human barrier.This is also a fantastic time should you need to change underwear publicly as well.
Running Without a Shirt
“…is it ever ok?” If it is over 85 degrees, and you are running somewhere with enough room to create a 2-foot-no-touching-zone between you and everyone else who would rather not have skin-sex with a wet seal, then yes. It is ok. But wear sunscreen.
“What do I do when I am sitting down and I have to get up, but I know that a pool of butt sweat will be left behind?” You have two options: 1) preemptively announce it. “Guys, don’t mind my butt sweat that I just left all over the chair.” This is appropriate around friends, immediate family, and coworkers who you wouldn’t mind getting drunk in front of.
Option number two can be employed on a date, a business meeting, yadda yadda: as you begin to slowly rise, pretend like someone behind you has called your name. Turn as though you are cracking your back, and pull the napkin off your lap to wipe the chair in one fell swoop while scooting your butt off the chair.
If you’re on the subway and have no napkin and are really concerned about what the stranger next to you thinks, distract them by pointing to the giant wasp that just flew into his/her hair.
Talking About How Hot You Are
Believe it or not Bernice, most humans possess the same ability as you do to determine the immediate state of temperature. For example, we all know when it is cold. We all know when it is raining. We all know, as you have now repeated 400 times during this walk, that it is hot. Get a new topic or invest in a hand-held fan.
Managing Expectations and Therefore, Pit Stains
“Dear Amelia, I sweat a lot. How do I avoid wet pit stains?”
Tank tops. White shirts. And never, under absolutely any circumstances, should you wear gray cotton.
Similar to the sentiment that I pointed out in our topic regarding shirtless running, no one wants to play lube-wars at a crowded bar, but sometimes — especially in over-populated beach towns — this is inevitable. Avoiding the sweat of others can be impossible unless you stand like a hot dog and whistle at a pitch that hurts the ears of 20-something-year-olds (like 7-Elevens do to avoid loiterers). What you can do, however, is make sure you aren’t contributing to the mass of sopping limbs by avoiding lotion, standing upright on your own two feet and resisting the urge to noodle dance. I know. It’s very hard to resist.
These have become the thing. There is nothing rude about them, save for the fact that if you put too many on and sweat like a bear with a flu in a Bikram Yoga class, you could potentially blind someone from all of the glistening. If you must apply, stay dry. Bring towels with you or something.
Now carry on, you wayward sons. Embrace the cool while it still feels nice and remember: sweating’s only human, but so are manners.
Image on the left shot by Matt Jones for Elle Spain, Image on the right shot by Ryan Kenny Miskini for Oyster Magazine