Oh no: it’s happening. The beads are forming across my brow, my hands feel like a camel’s tongue and my silk fuchsia singlet has developed a damp patch around my chest – it looks as though I’m leaking from an unfortunately droopy location. Why oh why did I wear fuchsia in May?
My first panicky ‘sweat attack’ of the season is symbolic. It signals the start of a four-month ordeal during which I’m forced to mimic the habits of the sun-shunning banana spider – dodging natural light at all costs, and avoiding any situation where I may have to shake another human being’s hand (I’ve never seen a spider extend its hand, despite having eight). It marks the moment I, usually a friendly individual, become a faceless name, accessible only by email: a creepy type who avoids outside interaction and sits inside a cold, dark room, curtains drawn, peeking out with hatred at those women who bounce around in June, voluminous hair in perfect position, pits bone dry, while I shiver inside, the A/C caressing my shoulders.
A ‘sweat attack’ is right up there on the shame scale (alongside the time when my six-year-old self couldn’t find a bathroom in time during a performance of Les Misérables). The worst attack was four years ago in Abu Dhabi when interviewing a top Emirati executive. He rolled out of his M-Wagon, crisp in white – signalling why a dishdasha is a smart choice. I, on the other hand, emerged dripping, panting and panicky after battling with a Lancer for a parking space. My lime-green polyester shirt (wrong in so many ways, I know) had mutated into cling film and stuck to my sweaty midriff, which I found myself staring at in wonder. My stomach has sweat glands? Shaking my hand, the businessman subtly yet cuttingly wiped his hand with a tissue, the camel tongue texture too irksome.
Once indoors, I thought the flood would end. But no. By now it was psychological: throughout the 20-minute meeting, every one of my pores threw themselves open with anxiety, the sweat turning icy upon colliding with the A/C. I was a shivering, feverish mess – a picture of puce perfection. Handsome Exec wrapped things up quickly, backing away to avoid physical contact.
May you take something positive from my humiliating humidity experience: avoid midday meetings for the next 16 weeks (unless they’re in an underground bunker into which your car will be telekinetically transported). Also remember to subscribe exclusively to natural materials in neutral tones. The threat of an attack is always imminent – the prickly forehead is the first sign of onset and the point at which you need to stop everything and, like the banana spider, seek out shade, or the sweet, unnatural blast of chilled air. Germ perpetuation has never felt so good.