July 15, 2002

Bragging Rights to Sweat

The New York Times today has published the kind of story that makes a Northerner cringe in disbelief.

“In New Orleans, Sweatiness is All a Matter of Civic Pride,” by Rick Bragg, tells of the honor New Orleans residents take in their perspiration, their claim that they, more than Americans anywhere else, really sweat like pigs.

“The makers of Old Spice, using a formula that averaged the high temperatures and high humidity of major cities in June, July and August, determined that San Antonio was the sweatiest city, followed by Dallas-Fort Worth, and, in a kissing-your-sister kind of consolation prize, New Orleans,” reports Bragg.

“Many, many people are puzzled. San Antonio? Dallas? Compared with New Orleans, they are Aspen, they are Alaska,” the reporter continues. “‘My drawers feel like an old wet diaper,’ said Chris Maples, an ironworker who works high up in buildings but cannot escape the heat and humidity. ‘It’s suffocating, it's sticky. I’m soaking wet at 7 o’lock in the morning, top to bottom. They better do another study.’”

If you’re interested in the top 10, the Times says New Orleans was followed by Houston; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Memphis, Tenn.; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; Phoenix; and Miami-Fort Lauderdale.

Frankly, I have considerable difficulty figuring out how Southerners function during the summer and find completely unfathomable the notion that people chose to live in the region before the invention of air-conditioning.

I found New Orleans to be completely unbearable when I was there three years ago. (And for more reasons than just the heat, I might add.) It’s odd that while I live nowhere near New Orleans, or Texas, or any other area ranked on Old Spice’s sweatiest cities list, I’ve spent the last six weeks thinking about moving to Finland to escape the heat and humidity here. I'm a heat wuss, I guess.


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