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Moistly, It Was Dumb

June 26, 2004

What would the first week of summer be without a national ranking of something with a summer theme? Americans, who must attempt survival without royalty for entertainment, do love their rankings, whatever they list.

In winter, we love the snowiest, coldest and warmest lists.

In autumn, there's college football rankings.

At other times we have lists of the sexiest movie stars, the best-dressed Americans, the richest, the hottest Oscar favorites, the worst-dressed.

Thank goodness, now that summer has officially begun, we have a new ranking, one that you may not have realized needed to be compiled: America's Sweatiest Cities.

That's right, someone invested much of the spring calculating in which cities average people sweat the most.

The winner, if that's the word for it, is El Paso in Texas, a state that no doubt could mount a whole posse of sweaty-city candidates. In fact, Corpus Christi pulled down the No. 4 spot. The second-best (worst?) sweaty place was Greenville, S.C., then Phoenix, with New Orleans taking fifth. Houston, Miami, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Ft. Myers, Fla., came next, followed by Las Vegas at only 10th -- because, no doubt, it's a dry heat. Los Angeles was only 94th, San Diego 99th and Youngstown, Ohio, 100th.

Everyone is likely to have his own candidate for sweat capital. St. Louis, where cutlery is sometimes necessary to cut through the August air, certainly deserves worse than the 36th spot. And how in a presidential election year did the colonial swamp city of Washington, D.C., get 48th, ahead of Des Moines (52nd) or, hello, New York City, at No. 63? Did these researchers ever walk down Amsterdam Avenue in July?

Though sweating is often seen as a nervous reaction to stress, which explains worry-free Los Angeles' low ranking, sweating is, of course, an important part of the body's natural cooling process. Researchers did this ranking by calculating average sweat produced by average residents walking for an hour on an average day from June through August. According to these thankfully hypothetical figures, each resident of El Paso produced nearly 1.1 liters of sweat per hour on average last summer, enough sweat from the whole city over an afternoon to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

This new ranking, it won't surprise anyone, was commissioned by a company involved in producing an old spicy deodorant. Next up for Labor Day, many might suggest, are rankings of the Top 10 Dumbest Rankings. No sweat. We have a winner.

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