Saturday, June 29, 2013


My cousin’s husband Norman is the gold standard of Sweaty.
It drips from his ruddy forehead, pools at the edges of his beard, and (remember Roseanne Roseanneadana?) makes a good sized sweatball at the tip of his nose, so no matter which way he swings his head—that drop is gonna get you.
Unfortunately, I am not one to talk.
Sweat regularly frames my entire face, dampens my d├ęcolletage, and threatens to spray my pitying friends.
I apologize for my shvitzing on a regular basis—on a regular basis.
I’m shlepping speakers and a microphone bag—to the coifed Bar Mitzvah mom.
I’m playing my violin vigorously—to the horrified senior ladies after our concerts in their gated communities.
I’m making chulent/latkes/soup/tea—to my concerned congregants.
I’m circling the hot and steamy city for camp permits—to the surprisingly elegant workers at the Bureau of Child Care.
And, of course the easiest--I’m running after 4-year-old twins.
Still, I know my super-sized sweating has to do with weight, stress and a not-yet-settled life. (Same as Cousin Norman, frankly.)
But, as I sit—oy a mechaya!—in my AC’d bedroom at our “shul house,” I tell myself it’s because I am engaged with life.
I sweat not only the small stuff. I sweat it all.
Some people can deal with it—like 9-year-old Shoshi in KlezKanada who once, matter-of-factly said “oh, that’s how you always are” after hugging an apologetic me and barely letting go.
Some can’t—like the rich husband of a friend who pointedly looked at me while saying how much he loved his wife because she has barely any scent.
I happen to smell good—so there!—but I guess that wasn’t his point.
Lucky for me, Sruli sweats even more fiercely and I feel positively ladylike in comparison. And he always smells delicious.
I once saw Savion Glover live—tap dancing on a wooden platform while a Juilliard ensemble played for him. He was wearing this pale yellow shirt that billowed gloriously as he whirled like a tornado, but after a time clung to his torso and darkened in color.
At first I didn’t know what was going on—and then I realized. Jeez, that guy was sweating.
You could see the cloud of spray, too—we had good seats—surrounding him, following him like a comet’s tail, dangerously close to those (oy vey!) Juilliard instruments.
But there was something so raw and real that the audience held its breath—and when he finally stopped--panting and soaked—the people let out a loud and sweaty roar of approval.
If you can’t take the heat, baby…
One last story about my Cousin Norman—takke a very generous man who will perspire on anyone’s behalf:
Sruli and I were in Israel to play a gig and we stayed at my cousin’s apartment in Ramot. This was years ago.
Everyone was up late, yakking, and finally it was time to turn in.
I had just brushed my teeth and Sruli was waiting his turn when we saw Norman coming from the kitchen with a huge hunk of—wait for it—gefilte fish, mounded with horseradish, dripping with saucy, stinky yoych, a plastic fork protruding upwards—on a paper plate. A PAPER PLATE.
We stopped.
Sruli asked. Where are you going with that?
To bed, he said.
Sruli waited til Norman was gone, then he turned to me.
“THAT would be a dealbreaker.”
I cracked up.
Not yet did I know about the coming nightsweats of the 6-year hell and heartbreak of Sruli’s divorce.
Not yet did I know the years of hormonal torture I would endure to bear his children.
Not yet did I know about future job uncertainty, hastily sold businesses, moving 3 times or cranky board members of future shuls.
Not yet did I know about my current hot flashes that turn my head into one giant, flaming marshmallow.

“Ha,” I said. “No sweat.”