by Con Chapman
DuFARGE, Mississippi. The campus of the all-women’s Mary Asher College here is the center of this small town’s economy, and the hub of college life here is undoubtedly “Sorority Row,” a street lined with towering elm trees that keep the sidewalks cool, or at least not as hot as the street.
“It’s just a fact that some people are gonna sweat in their lives,” says Tina Mitchell, social chair of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. “I don’t intend to be one of them.”
Visitors from the men’s campus of Hardy Whalen College across Obatikke Lake have historically wooed prospective mates at Mary Asher with promises of central air conditioning in the marital home, and girls with minimal perspiration are highly-prized among higher status males.
“Girl who live in dorms sweat like pigs,” says Beau Woodruff, starting quarterback on the Sigma Nu intramural football team.
Next up the evolutionary scale are “Kites,” slang for members of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and at the top of the social climber’s ladder are the “Tri-Delts” like Tina Mitchell, who neither sweat nor perspire.
“We ‘glisten,’” says Judy Garst, the sorority’s pledge coordinator. “It’s like the difference between a lightning bug and a June bug,” she notes with a homey simile.
But for some Tri-Delts even glistening is too gross and disgusting, giving rise to a booming practice in the office of Dr. Janardan Kini, a board-certified plastic surgeon who has expanded his practice into the lucrative field of sweat-gland removal.
“So many of these young girls could find wealthier mates whose papajis are auto dealers or insurance brokers if only they didn’t perspire so much,” he notes with a calculating eye as he prepares Debbie Lynn Fayette for her first such surgery, which will leave her with dry armpits for the rest of her life if all goes well.
“I sure hope I’m better by the Homecoming Dance,” Fayette says nervously as Dr. Kini applies local anesthetic, Mitchum Super-Dry Anti-Perspirant that has been kept on dry ice for 24 hours.
“Don’t you worry my little rhododendron,” Kini says soothingly. “When I’m done with you, you’ll never need to wear dress shields again.”
With swift, minimally-invasive incisions, Kini removes the two apocrine sweat glands that have caused Debbie Lynn “nothing but heartache all her life,” her mother Tammy tells this reporter in the waiting room as she charges the $2,500 cost of the operation to her credit card.
Later, as Debbie Lynn recuperates in a private room, she is visited by her boyfriend Blakemore Branson III, the scion of a central Mississippi farm implements and chili dog empire. “I just had to be here with her,” he says with an audible lump in his throat. “Lotta guys would only come around for breast augmentation, but subtraction’s just as important as addition.”