the Phoenician gene
Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 29, 2007
It has been hot here this week – not in the Kuwaiti way my aunt describes, with dry heat and dust, but in the Lebanese way. The “typical Lebanese” summer weather is upon us, and it is sticky and humid.
The afternoon humidity here hovers a little above 70% – roughly 66% higher than Kuwait, and 62% higher than Damascus. Since my personal dew point seems to be situated somewhere in the 50th percentile, I not only sweat but appear actually to produce dew from my skin’s contact with the thick air.
Yes, dew and sweat, the reality of which is even less attractive than whatever image those words might suggest. During the summer here I walk around in a state of semi-liquidity, shimmering as the sun shines on the millions of micro-droplets that rest on my skin.
It sounds lovely, and from a distance it might be. But up close, I fit my college junior advisor’s adage about women who look “good from far, [but are] far from good” when the distance narrows.
To cope, I have adopted that most Arab of remedies: the kleenex. Boxes of tissues abound in this region, perched atop cash registers, behind the passenger seats in taxis and private cars, and, of, course on tables in so-called “popular” restaurants, where they double as napkins.
The abundance of kleenex boxes is not due to some mysterious Arab need for frequent nose blowing. People here use tissues to wipe their faces when it is hot out – a practice I have learned to endorse whole-heartedly.
I can learn the fine art of tissue-ing, but what I cannot do is train my body to cope with the heat.
When I look out of my taxi door window, glasses sliding down the bridge of my nose, I see cool and collected Beirutis going about their business without the slightest trace of sweat.
How do they do it? I wonder.
This morning, I came up with an answer: its the Phoenician heritage. Perhaps there really is a Phoenician gene.