- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2007

With much ado and maybe moist palms, the makers of Old Spice after-shave have announced that Phoenix is the sweatiest city in America. There is lots of math involved. The average Phoenix-ian sweats more than 26 ounces of, uh, sweat every hour on a typical 95-degree summer day — meaning that the entire city sweats enough to fill more than 53,000 beer kegs in an hour, or an entire swimming pool’s worth in three hours.

It sounds as if they are all about to expire. Or drown.

But that’s life in Phoenix, according to the experts at Old Spice, who ought to know. Las Vegas is in the No. 2 spot, followed by Dallas; Tucson, Ariz.; San Antonio, Texas; Waco, Texas; Shreveport, La; and a bunch of other places where the sun never sets and the residents apparently measure their perspiration by the keg.

While the District is known for its hot seats, hot lines and heated rhetoric, our tepid city only ranks 42nd on the 100-city list. There must be spots around town that make people sweat for reasons other than high temperatures, however — the Senate floor, perhaps, or the Beltway at 5:34 p.m. somewhere between the Connecticut Avenue exit and the entrance to Interstate 270. Things may be getting a little close in the West Wing, too.

Old Spice went so far as to categorize all the top sweaty towns as “America’s most uncomfortable cities.” This is not good news for Phoenix, which insists it has “300 sunny days a year and an average temperature of 74 degrees,” according to the Arizona Department of Tourism.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is a good and sweaty sport, nonetheless. In recognition of its top placement on the list, Old Spice will deliver a year’s supply of antiperspirant to hizzoner, who will accept it “in celebration of the ranking,” according to press reports.

“San Francisco is the nation’s least sweaty city on the list, coming in at No. 100,” the Old Spice folks say. “With an average high temperature of 64.2 degrees during the summer months, each San Franciscan produced 17.8 ounces of sweat per hour — almost 10 ounces less than Phoenix’s average output.”

As mentioned before, there’s a lot of math involved.

There also is a lot of math involved with the sweat statistics provided by the Philadelphia-based International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHS), a nonprofit group devoted to people who sweat too much. Given our current global sociocultural circumstances, that ought to be about 98 percent of the planet.

Though Philadelphia ranks No. 52 on the Old Spice sweat-o-meter list, the society is not interested so much in its sweat ranking as in the human element. Tales of a sweaty planet are greatly exaggerated, in fact. A crack team of IHS perspiration researchers have figured out that just 3 percent of the population suffers from excessive sweating.

IHS sweat math reveals the toll: Out of the estimated 2.29 million weddings that will take place in the United States this year, 137,400 brides and grooms will walk down the aisle sweating too much, and with clammy hands.

“In Hollywood, before big awards shows such as the Oscars, many celebrities received Botox injections to protect their gowns and tuxedo shirts from sweat stains,” notes Dr. Dee Ann Glaser, a consulting dermatologist with the IHS.

“Botox is so effective that even brides and grooms who never thought they were Botox types may want to consider it for their big day,” she says.

Yes, of course. Something borrowed, something blue, something old and Botox too.

Is sweat in the eye of the beholder?

Well, yes and no, according to the IHS, which of course has conducted a substantial perspiration poll about the highs and lows of sweating. The research revealed that two-thirds of the respondents said that someone who is visibly sweating is “nervous,” while half surmised that the sweat-ee in question was out of shape. Wait a minute. That’s sweat discrimination, isn’t it? Somebody call the Sweat Acceptance Society, quick.

But hey. Sweat is sweat, all hale and hearty. Another 42 percent felt that perspiring folks were actually “hardworking.” More than half agreed that sweating was not as embarrassing as public flatulence, burping and some sort of serious wardrobe malfunction.

Meanwhile, work situations are what make us sweat the most, according to IHS, cited by 62 percent of the no doubt edgy and possibly angst-ridden respondents. Social situations follow, cited by 42 percent; encounters with “law enforcement,” cited by 41 percent; and “family” at 39 percent.

Not to be outdone, the makers of Right Guard deodorant have entered the fray, conducting their own sweat survey of 1,000 adult men, which turned out to be an index of men behaving badly, for the most part. The most pronounced “moments in your life that make you sweat” included dating one’s best friend’s girlfriend, cited by 23 percent, the first time using a fake ID (20 percent) and admitting you don’t really love your girlfriend (15 percent).

Of course, a full 11 percent were so clueless they couldn’t figure out what made them sweat, while 10 percent said “none of the above.”

To which we reply “no sweat.”

Jennifer Harper covers media, politics and sweat-o-meters for The Washington Times’ national desk. Reach her at jharper@washington times.com or 202/636-3085.