It all started a few years ago when my brother-in-law one night after dinner made reference to something he called "the meat sweats." When I asked what the hell he was talking about he explained that Alex, a large Russian man whom he worked with, had come back to the office one day after a hearty lunch, dripping with sweat and declared that he had the meat sweats. Well I thought that was just hilarious. Especially since my entire life I have been prone to being sweaty.
Fast forward to Antigua, Guatemala, where on the northeast side of town there is a minuscule and charming restaurant called Hector's run by a talkative Guatemalan man named, you guessed it, Hector. My friend Catherine, a globe trotting American expat who splits her year between sleepy Kino Bay, Mexico, and Paris, France, suggested that Hector's served one of the best steak-sandwiches she has ever eaten. Catherine, like me, spends her money on food, drink, and travel. But, unlike me, she has dined for decades all over Europe and is a connoisseur of sorts. When she says something is good, she knows what she is talking about. So a couple of hours later we were full of delicious steak and a bottle of red wine. And I can now say I agree fully with Catherine's assessment.
After dinner we were walking down the cobblestone street towards our favorite bar when I complained about being sweaty and then asserted that I must have the "meat sweats." Catherine also thought this was hilarious. And so it began, the obsessive naming of my sweats. Later that night at Cafe No Se, where the doors close at midnight, and I don't mean the bar closes, I mean the doors close with the patrons still inside and it gets damn hot, Catherine noted my shiny face and observed that I, obviously, had the No Se sweats.
From then on all my sweats were named by me and my friends. There were the hangover sweats, the plane sweats, the boat sweats, the watching George Bush on the news sweats, the tropics sweats (the most appropriate I would say), the beer-tequila-and/or-wine sweats, the sitting-in-the-park sweats....the list goes on and on. And recently, while travelling in Europe, a cab driver dropped me at the wrong address in the middle of the night and after some wandering around and asking for help (dragging my suitcase behind me) I showed up at my friend Ana's apartment with the lost-in-Amsterdam sweats. She understood - she's seen me with the No Se sweats.
One might think this an odd topic to write about but if you are a sweaty person it might make sense. My sweats didn't start in mid-life when I started eating and drinking in Antigua, Guatemala. I can remember being a little kid running hard through the neighborhood, playing sports of all kinds with the older boys on my street, giving it my all. I would come inside for a glass of coolaid and my mother would note how beat red and sweaty I was and would suggest maybe I take a break. I never did. I would just guzzle my drink and head out for more rough and tumble. More football-baseball-basketball and kick-the-can sweats.
And then I grew up and in retrospect see that I had the puberty sweats, the I'm-in-the-closet sweats, the flirting with a hot chick sweats, the grad school sweats and the list goes on. And now that I am 47 years old, I am less inclined to give a shit what people think about me when it comes to things I seem to have little control over, including that the good lord made me such that I sweat a lot. And it's a good thing too because I just started having the perimenopause sweats. Oh goody!
They aren't bad and it took me a awhile to even notice it was happening. I facilitate meetings for a living, often intense meetings where I am actively engaged, concentrating intently, keeping the group on task and diffusing conflict. And when I am leading a room, making sure folks are comfortable and the temperature is good, I have come to realize that if I feel just a little bit sweaty then everyone else is probably just right. If I am chilly then everyone else is probably hypothermic.
One day at work, talking to a friend/colleague, I made reference to being hot and my friend said, "oh my wife too, she's always waking me up in the night, heaving the covers off." I said, "oh no, it's not that, I just run hot." Then I started noticing that the sweats were coming a little more often and in waves. Nothing too intense but slightly different than any sweats I had known to date. No biggy. Add it to the list. And those who love me don't mind my sweats. In fact, they help me name them.