I love summer and all that it stands for, in theory. I love the spirit of summer, the break from school, the freedom that comes with warmer weather, being outside. The sun, the fun. All good stuff. It’s the practicality and reality of summer that bums me out. That from May to mid-September, I’m just a greasy, frizzy, sweaty mess in an ill-fitting outfit. Despite my best efforts, forethought, products and the like, every year, I’m just uncomfortable and frumpy. That being said, I freaking love Labor Day. I don’t know about you, but I for one am ready to start arriving places not soaked in my own sweat.
I went out to meet a friend at a bar on the other side of town a few days ago and the whole venture was the culmination of all the reasons why summer is not my jam. I got dressed. Put on a pair jean cut offs from Old Navy, a plain white tank top, probably too many bracelets and flip flops, and put my hair in its ever-present bun. And I’m not going to lie to you—I looked adorable. Then I got outside and started walking towards the subway. I immediately started re-thinking the shorts. While they were cute and comfortable both in the dressing room and in my apartment five minutes ago, that has radically changed. As I started walking, my inner thighs began eating the shorts. They were creeping up, higher and higher, towards the mother ship with each step. Here’s the thing: I’m not a big girl, per se, but I do have my fair share of thigh. On both sides, inner and outer. And then, all that fabric in between them, while trying to walk? It’s a lot. Props to the dudes out there. To borrow the line from Elaine Benes, “I don’t know how you guys walk around with those things.”
So I shove my hands in my pockets, trying to force them down, thinking that would fix the situation. Which it does, to an extent. But then I catch a glimpse of my profile in a store window and I can see that the action of shoving them down has now created some unfortunate and unflattering shapes with my behind. So I squirm a little bit, trying to shake the leg holes back into place, which lasts for exactly four seconds before we start up again with the chunks of fabric wedging themselves between my thighs. And this is all while I’m walking, mind you. After a few blocks, I just give up on the whole thing and just end up walking like I just got done riding a horse. Which I think we can all agree, is not lady like.
A combination of the 90 million degree weather and all of the cardio I’m doing messing around with these shorts, the sweating has already begun. I don’t know what happened or when, but hot shit have I gotten sweaty in my old(er) age. It’s just not cute. Fine, sure, sweating can be sexy. Sometimes. Like when you’re working out? Yes. Exerting extreme physical effort? Absolutely. Dripping sweat while you wait at the light to cross the street or standing in line at CVS? Nope.
I eventually arrive at the subway station. Having to go underground in the summer time, for any reason, is one of the most unpleasant parts of summer in the city. It’s like walking into someone’s mouth; it’s hot, stuffy, and it smells weird. At best it smells weird. At worst, it smells like you’re in someone’s mouth, if that mouth had been rinsed out with urine. I know, that’s gross. So is the subway in August.
I go down the steps, tugging at my crotch the whole way down. There are about 10 to 12 people waiting on the platform. I feel the trickles of sweat running down behind my ear and simultaneously down my chest. I glance down to see that I am quite literally dripping. Sexy. But it IS 90 million degrees out, so I can’t be the only one. I survey the scene. I am the only one. Out of the dozen or so people down here, and it’s a mixed bag at that, young and old, men and women, I am the only one sweating all over themselves. Hell, one woman is wearing jeans and HAS HER HAIR DOWN. What? How is that possible??? Legally, I couldn’t be wearing any less clothes and I am so hot, I feel like I might die a little bit. And this chick has 75% of her body covered and she is dry as a bone. And so is her hair. Hey, God bless her, really. Good for her.
Now I’m self conscious. Very literally, incredibly conscious of my slippery, sweaty self. And it just won’t stop. I nonchalantly wipe my chest with my bare hand and even more nonchalantly wipe my hand on my ill-fitting shorts which, for the record, I am still fidgeting with. I move in front of a wall mounted fan which is just blowing the hot breathy air around and actually lowering the temperature in no way. As I wait for the train, I repeat the same ritual; tug at my shorts, wipe the sweat off of some part of me and onto my shorts, and then try to smooth my hair back/take my hair down and put it back up/frantically try to tuck loose pieces behind my sweaty ears. Oh, I’m sure I looked like a crazy person. But I’m in a subway station, so I’m not the only twitchy, unwashed weirdo down here.
Once on the train, I see my reflection in the car window. Hot mess, no surprises there. What started out as a bun has become a bun/frizz fro hybrid. The back half of my hair is still in the bun, but some how the front portion broke free and decided to turn on itself. Just shrink up and curl into little, glistening balls of fuzz dotting my damp hairline. I’m not really sure I could be any grosser if I tried. My Italian grandmother, Muffy for those of you paying attention, always asks me in the same incredulous tone, “How has some man not come along and snatch you up yet?”
THIS. Right here. This is why. Because four months out of every year, I disintegrate into a lumpy ball of gross every time I walk outside.
The walk from subway stop to the bar did nothing to improve matters. Neither did me ducking into the Ladies’ Room as soon I arrived at my destination. I make eye contact with myself in the mirror and shrug. I resign to the fact that I’m kind of gross and I’m just going to be kind of gross until my next shower. Which will be right before I go back out into the world and do this all over again.