Thursday, August 13, 2009

I am a lobster... your face supposed to be that red?

Today was a pretty unproductive day that I spent by the pool. I wrote a little bit in the morning, did some reading, studied a bit for the GRE and then treated myself to a day of relaxation poolside.

The place at which I'm living this summer has access to two swimming pools; I've spent the majority of my time cooped up indoors between work and home, so I figured it was about time I took advantage of the fortuitous situation in which I'd been placed.

I went and bought some suntan lotion at Wal Mart early in the afternoon. This Wal Mart excursion, like many other instances in my life, was rife with me asking that age-old question:

"Are you fucking serious?"

While I was browsing the plethora of suntan products available, I noticed something odd. The lotions either had a really low SPF or high SPF. There was no middle-of-the-road choice.

Growing up, as far as I can remember, suntan lotion came in few varieties -- SPF 15 or 30. And you bought either Banana Boat or Coppertone, which had that terrier looking mutt pulling the bottom piece off of that little girl. Creepy.

At Wal Mart today, there were SPF 4, 6, 12, 45, 50, 75, 80, 100, 100 +.

I was on the phone with my friend Bry at the time, and I stopped her mid-sentence and asked, "Why would a person need SPF 100 plus?"

I was trying to think of a situation that might warrant the need for SPF 100 +, a situation wherein SPF 80 or 100 would possibly fail and I'd have that extra 20 or 20 + as a safety net.

Is this an indicative of how bad our ozone layer is getting? Or is this another instance of some crazy, over-protective mother writing angry letters to Coppertone and demanding more coverage for her child?

I could just imagine some stay-at-home mom, hair in curlers, sitting at the kitchen table with a big box full of "sub-par" products and a spool of paper, her hand scribbling in an angry rage:

Dear Coppertone Bastards,


Thank You,

Angry Mother

...and then, of course, she'd sign it with a smiley face or something. Just to prove that she wasn't that big of a bitch.

As I stood in the aisle, wracked with unanswered questions, trying to decide if I wanted to risk it all and take the 100 SPF rather than the 100 +, I came to my senses and thought:

Hey asshole, you're trying to get a tan. Go grab some cooking oil and let's get the hell out of here.

I opted for the SPF 4.

To me, the SPF 4 bottle subtley said, "Hey guy, don't worry, I got this. I won't let you burn completely, just make you dark. You'll look like an islander when I'm done with you."

And, in my mind, the voice I heard belonged to that of a Jamaican man. So, of course I had to believe him. Who was I to know anything about the sun? Now Jamaicans -- they know the sun!

So, after the bottle of Hawaiian Tropic was done "spitting game" at me, I picked it up from the shelf and made my purchase. Assuring myself the entire time that I had nothing to worry about.

So, when I got home, I stripped down, got in my bathing suit and oiled up. (I know what you're thinking, but I'll stop. This is getting you so hot right now, right?)

So, the oiling of self is finished and I grabbed my towel, phone, cigarettes and my newest book purchase, "I'm Down" and head for the pool.

By this point, it was about 12:30 p.m. The sun was bright and high in the sky.

This is perfect! I thought.

I went and threw my towel out on the cement next to the pool and set up shop.

I arranged myself like the Vitruvian Man, face pointed upward, and took in all the photon goodness the sun had to offer.

Ahh, this is nice... I thought.

It didn't take long for the sweat to start gushing out of my pores because today was quite the scorcher.

Every 10 minutes or so I made sure to turn my body, for that evenly cooked appearance.

After about an hour of controlled turning, I decided to take a dip in the pool. I was roasting by this point and needed to cool off.

I still felt good by this point.

Why haven't I been doing this all summer? This is great! I thought.

And then, I got out of the pool and crawled back onto my towel, feeling a sense of calm.

And before I knew it... I felt calmer. Things were starting to quiet down.

My mind started to wander. The tickle of the sun on my skin facilitated happy thoughts.

And before I knew it, or could help it...

...I fell asleep.

I woke up more than an hour later, still facing the sun.

This wasn't a pleasant rise-and-shine awakening, where you sit up, stretch out your arms and feel good about yourself.

This was horrible-excruciating-pain awakening. Worsened by the fact that instead of the sun beating down on me, a storm had rolled in and rain was smacking my medium-well skin.

Every drop that hit me felt like a razor blade, just slicing my skin open.

I sat up really fast, with my arms extended in front of me like some fucked up creature created by Dr. Frankenstein.

I turned around, not wanting to manipulate my skin in any way that would cause pain, and quickly gathered my things and got the hell out of Dodge.

I cannot even describe the pain I'm in right now. I feel...cooked.

...In the morning I'm finding out who that mother is that writes these angry letters to companies, and I'm sending her a fruit basket.


  1. Great blog--you write so well. Cute story about the sunblock. I do agree the sunscreen market is for the tan-crazed and the skin cancer-fearing.

  2. Well at least you achieved your sun tan goal, right? get some aloe for that burn though, the stuff's magical I promise.