By Will Sullivan
A press release came across my desk Thursday that only displays the ignorance of the company that put it out.
It was a list of 100 cities in the United States ranked by the sweat factor. It ranked New Orleans only 12th and didn’t mention Picayune at all. Now that’s a few drops of the salty stuff in your eyes!
What makes this list so ludicrous — I won’t name the company that put it out so as not call down a heap of stinky, sweat-soaked T-shirts on them — is that it puts some desert towns ahead of New Orleans.
Now, I’ve been in the desert. The Marine Corps sent me to 29 Palms, Calif., for a while and the National Guard sent me to Ft. Irwin, Calif., a couple of times for training. Both of those places are in the Mojave Desert and there are few places on Earth hotter than the Mojave.
Strange, I don’t recall sweating all that much in either of those places. Yes, the heat was such you could have fried bacon and eggs in a skillet without lighting a fire under the skillet, but you didn’t have any humidity, or so little that you couldn’t detect it without some of those sophisticated instruments used by meteorologists.
There are two components to sweating. One is heat and the other is humidity. Deserts don’t have humidity.
Of the 11 cities ranked ahead of New Orleans, I have been in Las Vegas, Nev.; Dallas and San Antonio, Texas; Shreveport, La.; Houston, Texas and Miami, Fla.
The first two, especially the first one, often have temperatures that are a little above New Orleans’, but none of them have humidity that ever even approaches that which drenches New Orleans.
Shreveport, frankly, is the only city among those ahead of New Orleans that I have been in that might give New Orleans a run for the money, but I don’t recall personally a day spent in Shreveport that would make me consider it sweatier than New Orleans.
Houston? It gets breezes that help reduce the sweat factor and I don’t ever recall feeling as much humidity there as I have in New Orleans. The same is true of Miami. Miami, when I have been there, and I have been there only in the summer, yes, summer, actually has been rather pleasant in terms of the sweat factor compared to New Orleans.
The others just plain don’t get enough humidity on a regular basis to come close to being ranked ahead of New Orleans on any list ranked by sweat.
Those I haven’t been to include Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; and Corpus Christi, Austin and Waco, Texas. Looking on a map and seeing what they are close to, maybe Corpus Christi comes close to New Orleans, but out rank it? Never!
This whole list is only so much sweat in your eye.
Baton Rouge, La., comes in at 20. I would love to see how these folks arrived at their conclusions.
As I glanced down the list I found Jackson ranked at 26. Not that low guys and gals. I lived there for a while. I probably soaked more T-shirts with sweat in a week in Jackson than all the residents of Las Vegas put together soaked in a year.
Savannah, Ga., is ranked at 27. I went through boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., just a little north of there, in the summer of 1965. Sweat factor? Unbelievable! It just might rank ahead of New Orleans, at least Parris Island might. I guarantee it would rank ahead of any of the 11 that come ahead of New Orleans.
The thing that gives the whole thing away as just a teeny, tiny, slick nylon handkerchief in the land of sweat is the lack of any small towns on the list, like Picayune, for instance. I have sweated a lot here. Genie’s worn out a few washing machines trying to keep my T-shirts clean and fresh-smelling.
I grew up in Natchez. Sweat? You betcha!
Then there are Columbia and Mize. I have family in both places. Hot and humid in the summer? Count on it. As a farm editor in a former life, I spent a lot of time in the Mississippi Delta. With a bar of soap, you could bath in the heat and humidity.
As I went over the list, I did some counting and noticed that among those ranked in the first 50 of the sweatiest cities, I had been in no fewer than 33 of them. I guess you could call the bottom 50 the least sweatiest of the sweaty and I had been on only nine, including the place that ranked 100, San Francisco.
Either I love to sweat, or I’m not living right.
Some of the rankings in both locations have me scratching my arm pits.
Evansville, Ind., at 53, for instance, could easily replace any one of several listed as being sweatier. Chattanooga, Tenn., at 38, for instance. I’ve been in both places.
From just looking at the list, my instincts tell me there are other easy replacements from bottom to top, but I haven’t been to all of them so I won’t make the suggestions.
I will not accept, though, that Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., and Las Vegas Nev., should rank anywhere above New Orleans on a sweat list. They are the top three, and I have my doubts as to whether they should even be in the top 50, especially Las Vegas, since I have been there.
Now, if the list were to rank the cities simply by high temperatures attained, I might have to take another look at the it.
In the meantime, I’ll just toss a few more stinky sweat-soaked T-shirts in the laundry basket.