COLUMN: November 2, 2017

A hand dryer designed for the purposes of drying hands and probably only hands
MY good friends were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary – their tin wedding. I don’t think anybody is quite sure why 10 years is tin. It seems fairly stingy for double figures.

Perhaps somebody from New Zealand was asked for how many years they had been married and they replied “ten”, and there was some confusion.

The point is there was a party and I was invited. The invitation said “dancing shoes” which was encouraging as far as it goes, but is not an iron-clad dress code. So I decided to wear a suit, on the basis that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, unless you are an undercover detective infiltrating a family of Mafia naturists.

A suit requires a shirt, and I pulled my good white one out of the wardrobe, gave it a once-over with the iron, and slipped it on.

There is never a good time to discover that one has unusually sharp elbows, but this was a particularly bad time. I had somehow put my elbow through the shirt sleeve, as if I had started to transform into the Incredible Hulk, but then thought better of it.

The only suitable looking shirt that was not also in the wash was a light blue one. I do not know why I own a light blue shirt. Light blue shirts are accidents waiting to happen. Anyway, it was late October and quite chilly, so it was probably going to be fine.

I donned my suit and my dancing shoes – to be honest, they were just shoes, but any shoes can be dancing shoes if you have the right attitude – and headed out in the cold for the party…

The temperature was just right in the village hall. I was comfortable. I sipped a glass of wine and chatted to some old and new friends and it was all tremendous.

But it was a slow start on the dance floor, as is often the way at these things. Nobody wanted to be first, in the same way that nobody wants to be the first out of their seat for a standing ovation. I nodded at a fellow party-goer and gave her the “I suppose if nobody else is going to do this it had better be us” look.

And as we got up, we jostled others, who also stood up and headed to the dance floor, whereupon we all cut a rug.

It is hard to describe my dancing style, but I think the most accurate term would be “disturbingly enthusiastic”.

In fact, my exertions brought on a degree of perspiration, and my face glowed. In fact, I was glowing like a pig. I excused myself and headed for the Gents’, to splash some water on my face and cool down. I did this, and looked up at the mirror and saw that I had developed what I can only describe as a dark blue bib.

The light blue shirt had sprung its trap. I might as well have worn a neon sign saying, “This man’s sweat glands are in perfect working order. It’s a good job he had a shower before he left.”

Then I realised I had no way to dry my face following its splashing. There were no hand towels, and the only method of drying anything was a hot-air hand dryer.

I panicked and grabbed some toilet paper from one of the stalls to dab at my face. But it shredded and became trapped in my beard and I had to use more water to free it.

My face was soaked again. I couldn’t go back out like that – people would have thought I was having a cardiac arrest.

And then I had an idea. There was nobody else in the Gents’ and nothing else for it. I crouched down in front of the hand dryer. Maybe I could direct the air onto my face and chest.

But my face could not activate the sensor. I had to be lower…

Which is why the next man to enter the Gents’ discovered me on my knees, waving my hands in prayer to the hand dryer god.

“It’s my shirt,” I explained. I don’t think he believed me.

And it didn’t even work. I’ve expelled more hot air huffing onto my glasses in order to clean them.

So, next time I go to a party, I’m wearing a wetsuit. I should get away with it. As long as I’m wearing my dancing shoes.

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