Monday, October 02, 2006

My Beard of Bees

Indelicate as it might be for a prim young débutante like myself to broach the subject: I perspire rather a lot, here in the primaeval ur-walds of the Federated Malay Territories.

Actually, I don’t perspire. I sweat. Like a frickin hog. I sweat like Nixon’s jowls on debate night. I sweat like Lance Armstrong’s handsome, leather-bound Balzac. I sweat like a cold can of soda on a coasterless coffee table. I sweat so much that my droplets of sweat have tiny droplets of sweat. I sweat so much that by the end of the day the salt incrustations on my t-shirt look like a topographical chart of the Grand Tetons. I sweat constantly, from every pore, even when the fan’s on full blast. It pours off me in cascading sheets of salty, gelatinous filth. I sweat on the balcony. I sweat in the kitchen. I sweat in the bathroom. I sweat WHILE I’M SHOWERING. I hate it.

A lesser man than I, a man whose diet consisted of fewer deep-fried poultry appendages prepared according to the receipt of a certain Col. Harlan Sanders, might have lost weight after all this sweating, but I have not. I think I briefly did, right after we moved here, but it’s all back now, and it’s some kind of perverse vicious cycle because the more fatty folds and flaps I have, the more places for the sweat to seep from, and the more I feel like a Hutt under the merciless gaze of Tatooine’s twin suns.

If this keeps up all I’m going to be able to do is loll grotesquely in a rattan chair on some seedy veranda in a seersucker suit and straw hat, impotently fanning myself and grunting for the cabana boy to bring me another Pernod. Now I see how those guys get like that.

Anyway, for the first six to eight months of my Malaysian sojourn I tried to pay no heed to my incredibly amplified dampness. Water off a duck’s back, I told myself. And yet it was not water, and I was not a duck.

So a few months ago I started to develop a fiery itchiness in several key bodily areas, including the crook of my elbows, behind my ears, and – most tragically – the greasy folds of my neck. Was there a fungus among... me? I suspected so. This was more than simple heat rash. As someone with very little interest in bossing about menials and a blinding paranoia about having strangers in his apartment, I have been carrying out the duties of scullery wench this year, and one afternoon after mopping the apartment in an unbearable agony of sweat and heat, I felt as if my entire body were on fire. I itched, and scratched, and on and on the sweat poured like sweet salty honey from a really gross beehive. The next day, I was all red and puffy.

Thus began my long, slow acceptance of my heat rash, or fungus, or whatever the hell it is. I now try not to move at all, in order not to upset the fiery demon that slumbers within my own skin. My neck is especially itchy, and I spent over a month slathering antifungal crème on it – and now I think the only problem with my neck might have been that I was allergic to the antifungal crème. Either way, it’s itchin like the Dickens. I feel like I’m wearing some sort of mediaeval German neck shame chastity belt. When I walk down the street, I feel as if people can see my crimson, pulsating laryngeal hives from hundreds of yards away.

Yet the one time I went to the doctor to ask about my neck, it suddenly turned smooth and milky-white as a marble statue. She looked at me as if I were utterly barking mad. “I don’t see anything on your neck”, she drawled suspiciously, peering at me as if I were one of those Munchausen Neck Syndrome By Neck Proxy patients she’d heard about on 20/20. I retreated in shame, scratching feverishly at my blazingly inflamed neck-flesh.

And so I come to my present sad condition. Do I have a neck fungus? Probably not. Do I have a neck condition brought on by allergic reaction to neckily-applied antifungal crème? Possibly. All I know is that my frigging neck is really, really, REALLY ITCHY. And covered in sweat.


Anonymous said...

WOW! So well written and funny. A bit gross, but great prose nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Ooh! I know someone, "Joe", whose mysterious fungus was cured by applications of dandruff shampoo, every morning for ten minutes for a week.

I realize you probably weren't looking for medical advice, but I couldn't help myself. By the way, very funny.

Fiwibabe said...

You are a funny, funny man Mr. Fungal Itch. Have you tried 'Heat Rash' powder? In Fiji, it is a staple in your kit and actually works wonders. Looks like talcum and might make you feel like a bit of an old granny though. If you emerge with it plastered all over your neck though, people might think you are really weird. Best to keep it to the confines of your apartment ;-)

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