It’s early summer, and I’m standing at the pharmacy counter in CVS, waiting for the nice pharmacy staff to get my bundle of over-priced prescriptions. It’s a big prescription day, so I’ve walked here wearing a back pack. The temp outside is in the mid-70s, but the humidity is sky-high.
I walked here beneath trees swaying, leaves shimmering in the light wind. I should be comfortable, but I’m not. My body is hyper-aware of how fucking hot I am all the time, and is overcompensating in the sweat department.
Sweat runs–no pleasant trickling here–down my back and front, soaking the waistbands of both my underwear and my shorts. Sweat drips under my nose and all around my hair line. Sweat puddles in the hollow my bra has created in my rib fat–as an aside, the rib fat was a surprise when it popped up unannounced the day I turned 40. There is too much sweat for the expensive sweat-wicking tank top to handle; in fact, I have come to believe that tank-top salespeople are out and out liars. But nowhere am I sweating more than my neck.
Yes, it’s true, my neck sweats. Copiously.
I could be wearing an invisible sprinkler collar. That is how much water is rolling down my neck. I could water a peace lily with this neck, or provide ambience for your backyard garden…
Pretty, right. No, not if it’s your neck, and a very nice woman with gentle brown eyes is gathering your prescriptions and you can’t get too close to the counter, lest you leave a puddle of neck sweat by the cash register. Luckily, I find a pair of tube socks in my back pack–who knows why they are there, probably from a long car ride when I thought my feet might get cold, back in the 90s when I still got cold–so while I wait, I wipe at sweat with socks. They are surprisingly absorbent.
“Yes, I’m wiping my neck with a pair of socks. Menopause.” I say with what I hope is a humble sort of humor when the pharmacy tech returns.
“Oh yes,” she nods knowingly, “I remember that.” She hands me a stack of prescriptions and looks me in the eye, “It does ease up.”
And I believe her, but I’d like a date. Like in 6 months maybe?
You see, I’m having a hard time concentrating on things that really matter with all this sweat pouring down my neck. I mean, the world is heating up, and Donald Trump is running for President and folks like Matt Lauer let him lie on TV, and the ocean is full of the little plastic beads from our exfoliating face washes, and pre-teen girls are wearing words like “chastity” on the asses of their too-short shorts, and our milk is pumped-full of hormones, and our drinking water is an antidepressant cocktail. Who the hell gives a shit about neck sweat?
The truth is I don’t spend a lot of time looking at my neck. In I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron wrote that her dermatologist said the neck begins to go at age 43. I’m 49, and my neck looks ok. It might be the extra layer of fat or maybe long-awaited benefits of oily skin. My parents promised me years ago that my genetically oily skin (thanks Dad) would save me from wrinkles when I got older. Yes, they actually thought that a future without wrinkles would appeal to a 16-year-old with acne. Kind of hostile of them, huh.
Last night, my sister and I were walking, and I began a rant about this neck sweat problem, and she had the nerve to say, “You know, I never notice all the sweat until you draw attention to it by rubbing your neck and talking about all the sweat.”
I draw attention to it? What?
“It’s funny.” I say, and then I kind of push her a little bit because maybe she will fall down and take it back. She doesn’t fall down, though. She just laughs.
Here’s the thing. Neck sweat is kind of funny and kind of gross. I’m a lot tired of sweat. Menopause arrives with a myriad of not-so-wonderful physical and mental changes–grouchiness, rib fat, sleep problems, hot flashes, achy joints, anxiety, and that’s just a taste, but the one that is knocking my socks off (and into my backpack, apparently) is the sweating.
Here’s the kicker: sweating is pretty awesome. My own body-operated natural a/c. My internal cooling system knows the truth: I am one hot cookie right now, and it acts accordingly with volumes of cooling elixir. Sure, I’d be happier if that elixir were a little less noticeable, a little sweeter in scent. But sweat’s good!
I mean men sweat all the freaking time, and they don’t give a rat’s ass because they’re MEN, and who doesn’t like a sweaty man. But let’s not forget that if their neck sweat were bothering them, there would damned sure be a pill for that shit by now.
And yes, there are pills for some menopausal changes, but I’m partial to my Lexapro–I’m sort of a one-pill gal. So I can either embrace my sweaty neck and grow up to be a proud and sweaty crone or I can put my sweat on the back burner where it’s sure to douse the flame.