Monday, August 09, 2010

Witz DOESN'T Pick: The Sweat Life

Let's kick this week off right for you all. Last week I promised you personal accounts of shame and embarrassment and that's exactly what I'm going to deliver.

A few weeks ago, it was 95 and humid in Brooklyn, an all too common combination this summer. The heat has been bad enough the last few months that both myself and many others I know have decided to wear primarily white and black shirts, with my logic being, "White and black don't show sweat." Despite the heat, I spent the early afternoon walking outside with my friend Jezter, feeling oddly comfortable, to the extent that I spoke the fateful words, "You know, it's actually NOT that hot out!"

A couple hours later, I was supposed to meet a girl a few blocks away and we were going to take the train together to Rockefeller Center to meet our mutual friends for coffee. Feeling confident in my white t-shirt and shorts, I strutted out of the air-conditioned apartment and into the heat.

Three blocks later, it began. Just a few drops on the front of my shirt; no big deal. Half a block later and I felt drops coming from my head. A few more drops on my face, a couple on my back, a couple more on my shirt. I had four blocks to go and I was sweating. The panic set in. You see, sweating is bad enough, but once you start sweating in public, you start to freak out about sweating in public which actually leads to MORE sweating. I think it's called a Mobius Fuck You, and it was happening to me. Another block and I was a disaster. Much like New Orleans, I was designed poorly, and the levees had very much broken.

It's important to note that I do not yet look like Teen Wolf. There's no doubt in my mind that in the next 50 years, my photos will play like a Devolution of Man Back to Ape chart, but I do not yet have the ubiquitous hair of my father. Nor am I overweight or chock full of salty fast food. I just have an extraordinarily high functioning, overachieving, cooling system. My sweat glands do not collect unemployment.

I ducked into a bagel shop and, wearing a pitiable face (and increasingly awkward t-shirt), asked if I could just have some napkins. "Oh damn, take some!" the woman responded, eyes-widening, and handed me a huge stack. I thanked her, left the shop and quickly went next door to an ATM bank. You see, I've always viewed my bank as sort of an embassy that I can get into for whatever I need, be it money, water, to avoid someone on the street, or a bathroom. "No public restrooms!" an employee might say, but I would simply respond, "No, no, my dear sir, it's OK. I'm a MEMBER of this bank!"

I stood in the room full of ATM's, basking in the frigid air-conditioning, wiped myself down with the napkins, and took stock of myself. I was soaked, embarassed, and had what could only be described as "water abs,"-- a band of water right across my middle. I could only imagine what my back looked like. I was a block away from this girl, fifteen minutes late, and looked like I'd just been on the business end of a super soaker fight. "Time to cut my losses and go home," I thought. Only, my friends were in town who I really wanted to see and hadn't seen in a long time. "Ok, time to go home, change shirts, and come back," I thought. Except, there was absolutely no reason why this exact same thing wouldn't happen again, and then I'd simply be 15 more minutes late. PLUS, if I did that, there was no going back. That's who I would be from then on. It was at this point that I took out my cell phone, so I could call my dad and berrate him for his shitty genetics.* Instead, I saw that I had a text: "What's your ETA?" I considered texting back, "Witz died, go on without him," but couldn't. It was time to be a man.

I left my embassy, no drier than before, and walked to our meeting point. When she looked up from her book, I saw the words, "Oh my!" escape her shocked eyes before they ever made it out of her mouth. I considered making a joke, saying something like, "That's the LAST time I save orphans from a typhoon!" but I simply said, "I know, I'm disgusting." She was cool, though, and we made some jokes, and she said something about getting me to a wet t-shirt competition and I said something about killing myself, and then the guy who was sitting nearby, who was ON THE PHONE AT THE TIME, stops talking on his cell to say, "Damn, boy!" while making eye-contact with me.

"I know, trust me," I said.
"Nah man, I looked like that yesterday," he continued.
"Oh yeah? Cool." I replied, feeling a little better.
"When it was RAINING!" he delivered, and cracked up. This man was ignoring whoever he was talking to on the phone to make fun of me.
"Yep, well, this is my plight," I said, taking ownership and then walking away.

We headed toward the subway, at which point I declared, "I need to buy a new shirt." This had been my plan since the ATM and I knew there was a Modell's on the way (I was literally like, "Fuck...I gotta go to Mo's"), which was great, because I only wear XXL Phat Farm and Fubu shirts... Taking longer than I needed, I sorted through the shirts I'd get my ass kicked for wearing and eventually found a five dollar white Russell Athletics t-shirt. Good old Russell Athletics, standing in the corner like a scared white boy, trying not to seem out of place while a Sean John rack sizes him up. I took it to the checkout counter.

"Just this please."
"Mmhm," she said, scanning it and handing me the shirt.
"Actually, could I have a bag?"
"Oh! I just figured you was puttin' it on!!"
"No, you're absolutely right," I laughed, "I need a bag for this gross shirt...but I love that you understand what's happening here," I added, which got a good laugh out of the generally apathetic staff, including the checkout girl.
"Have a good day," she laughed.
"It couldn't get much worse," I thought, as we strolled back out into the street...and that's when the homeless guy laughed at me.

Yep. A dreaded-hair, no shirt, bags for shoes, ratty pants, garbage bag o' stuff, burly, bearded homeless guy, walking slightly behind us, saw me, pointed and laughed mightily. I said, "Great. That homeless guy is making fun of me now," which caused my friend to turn around, which prompted him to point at me again and shout, "Daaaamn boooooy! Deeeeeaaaaaaaaaaammmmn!!"

(There's been a disproportionate number of WWF references lately...)

Feet firmly planted on rock bottom, and with my new t-shirt still in the bag, we went into the subway station right as our train was pulling away. I decided to hold off on changing shirts until AFTER we got out of the subway, since it's always much hotter down there. We waited. I paced a little, dripping sweat again in the stifling heat, and it occurred to me that white t-shirts DO, in fact, show sweat. By this point, I was comfortable with my translucence, except the subway platform actually contained good looking, non-sweating, genetically sound humans, who were giving me hesitant looks of concern. I began to worry that my shorts would get wet. If my shorts got wet, that was it-- game over, hop the track, lick the third-rail, goodbye Witz.

The train pulled up, bringing with it an amazing swoosh of cold air, and we hustled inside to the air-conditioning and onto a nice, cold seat. I slowly cooled down, stopped sweating, and maybe even (perchance to dream) started to dry off. This was when the train screeched to a halt between stations. "The train is stopped while we investigate something suspicious. Please be patient and we will resume service pending investigation."

"You're definitely the something suspicious," Pain In the Ash and nearly everyone else I've told this story to has remarked, which is absolutely accurate and hilarious, but thankfully, not the case. I was, however, getting nervous again. "PENDING INVESTIGATION??" How long does an investigation take and how much bureaucratic red tape was going to have to be waded through? How many months were we going to be on this train, and would it be long enough to turn into a reality tv series? Every minute we waited was another minute we were late to meet our friends, and that thought didn't calm me down or cool me off. The train lurched forward and a short while later, we were at Rockefeller Center, my friend dressed to fit in with contemporary fashion, and me looking like I just jumped double-dutch for an hour in the attic of a bakery.

We were meeting our friends in a Starbucks, so I decided to change my shirt in their bathroom once we got there, but you already know deep down how well that worked out, right? Because, this particular Starbucks was inexplicably attached to the NHL Store, and didn't have a public restroom. I avoided hugs from our friends, took full responsibility for being late, accrued a few more, "Oh my's," at my appearance, and headed towards where the restrooms SHOULD have been. Two employees were standing there:

ME: Can I use the restroom?
GUY: These are employee only.
ME: I just need to change my shirt really quickly.
GIRL: These are just for employees.
ME: No, I get that, but if I could just hop in for two seconds...
GUY: You can use the dressing rooms next door in the NHL Store.
ME: But then they're going to think I'm stealing clothes...
GIRL: These are employee only.
ME: Maybe I should just change right here in this nook.
GUY: I think you should use the changing room next door.
GIRL: You could use these, except they're employee only.

By this point, a few of the tables nearby were looking at us and I'd had enough. I took a step back into a semi-secluded alcove, and with the two of them looking dubiously at me, I popped off my shirt, put on my new one, and said, "I feel so much better. I think I'll get a frappuccino." The table nearby laughed, the two employees went into their employee bathrooms, and I felt as though I had a new lease on life (sadly, it turns out I just renewed the old lease).

I was welcomed back into mainstream society (temporarily) and the rest of the evening was sweat free. When I use this as the final scene in the made for tv movie of my life (I wanna be played by Scott Caan, but I know it'll be Zach Braff), it will end with all of us eating dinner, me in my new t-shirt, and when someone says, "We're just going to split the check evenly on our credit cards, ok?" I'll look up, pause, say, "No sweat!" and everyone will laugh as the frame freezes, the camera pulls back, and everything fades to black.

Somebody Make Me An, "I Sweat Humidity," T-Shirt (and then give it to me in 1998),

*After telling my parents this story, my mom, between fits of laughting tears told me that SHE actually has the panic sweat, and I couldn't blame my dad entirely. This means that my dad is like the sun (but not in a loving, metaphorical way) and my mom is the magnifying glass. Genetics is holding the glass over me and I'm the ant, getting set on fire and laughed at.


Scott Cooper said...

welcome to the world of being a hairy jew, fuckin hell, shit, welcome to india

Anonymous said...

So much I could write . . . I have lived this, Groundhog-Day-like, so many days this summer I've lost count (although truthfully I have not yet actually purchased a new shirt during the episode) . . . I did buy some 'clinical strength' antiperspirant, but traditionally I believe that's only used under one's arms, not all over one's body, so that's not going to help much. Let's just skip ahead to the lesson learned here - DON'T GO OUTSIDE. UNTIL OCTOBER.