It has been an issue just about ever since I can remember – my hands and feet sweat more than most people’s.
Yes, I know, it seems like a rather odd subject for a column, but it came to mind this week (actually it comes to mind daily) when I received an email titled “Sweating Problems @School: Myths re: Students Who Sweat Excessively.”
The issue was so bad when I was a teenager that my mother used to make me take my Converse Chuck Taylor All Star tennis shoes off on the back porch after a summer day of playing outside before I could enter the house.
Really. If you’ve ever owned a pair of Chuck’s, and wore them much on hot summer days – especially several days in a row – you probably know what I mean. And when you produce extra sweat and play sports pretty much all day, every day, and have a mother who kept an especially tidy home, you can understand her reasoning.
My feet aren’t much of a problem anymore, but I still have the issue with my hands. In fact, I’m so used to them being moist that it doesn’t feel natural when they’re dry.
It can be a bit embarrassing at times, especially when you have a job where you meet a lot of people and shake a lot of hands. But it has come in handy before, too.
I probably shouldn’t tell this, but it was a long time ago, so what the heck. For a time in my early college years, mainly in especially tough classes, I got in the habit of making a little cheat sheet, about 2 inches by 2 inches, before I would go take a test. There was only room on the sheet for a little bit of information, but I’d write really small then I’d fold the sheet up and put it in my pocket.
The problem was that if I pulled it out and unfolded it during it a test, it made a lot of noise, and the last thing I wanted was to attract attention. But I found a cure for that. I noticed one day when my hands were especially sweaty while I was making the sheet, that when I went to unfold it during a test it didn’t make any noise at all. So, I got in the habit of pressing the little sheet between my palms so it was nice and moist before I headed to class for a test.
Somehow or other a good friend caught on to what I was doing. So he started making his own little cheat sheets. He’d even ask me to press his sheets between my hands before he headed to class.
I know it sounds pretty bad, and there are people who might read this who were my teachers at the time. But I swear this next statement is true. By the time I took the trouble to make the little sheets, the information on them was already locked in my brain, and I rarely used them.
Sometimes, though, the sweaty hands syndrome thing was really a problem. Like while playing sports.
When I reached varsity basketball, each game started with a brand new, shiny, orange basketball. If you have sweaty hands – which become more sweaty in the heat of a game – that’s not a good thing. Especially when you’re a point guard and handle the ball a lot. It always aggravated me that we practiced every day with old basketballs, many of them worn to the point that they were brown and absorbed sweat well, then had to play games with those new, slick ones. And, back in those days, we didn’t have much of that stuff that LeBron James throws in the air at the start of a game.
Then there was baseball and softball. I played before many people ever saw a batting glove, so each time I came to the plate I patted my hands in the dust before I took a pitch so I could keep a good grip on the bat. If it was a long at-bat I might have to do it a second time. It was not good for me if the ground was moist and there was no dust.
And don’t forget golf. I don’t play anymore because I’m terrible at the game. But while most people wear one glove or none, I had to wear two. Either that or risk the club slipping out of my hands and whacking some unsuspecting bystander.
But it gets worse than sports.
Imagine being on a high school date, and your date wants to hold your hand, and you want to hold her hand, too. But you’re a shy guy, and you don’t want to explain why your hands are so wet, so you try to avoid holding hands at all costs, and then your date gets upset, and you go home wondering what might have been.
Or what about if you’re meeting your new boss for the first time. And you’re trying to act all cool and collected. And you’re getting ready to shake his hand. And no matter how many times you wipe your hands on your pants, the sweat just won’t go away.
One of my sons has the same issues. He says he just tells people he’s not going to shake their hand because his hands are too sweaty.
Now I have this email telling me that the sweaty hand syndrome thing is not all that uncommon, and that there are lots of ways to treat it.
Maybe that would be good for my son, but I think I’ll pass. I’ve made it this far, and besides, who knows when it might come in handy again.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.