As American as mom, hot dogs, and passing the buck

So there I was kicking myself for being so stupid. Not to mention irresponsible, reckless, and just plain obtuse. Well, wincing more than kicking really.

Thirty-some years of sunburns under my belt (and the strap lines to prove it) and I still haven’t managed to figure out the mysteries of sun screen, sun exposure, and what happens to people with complexions the color of fish bellies (namely, me) if they stay out in the sun too long.

Having spent just such a day in just such sun and being fried to a crisp to prove it, I was feeling like the proverbial fool too simple to come in out of the rain. With the exception that the fool in the rain just gets wet, while I get to flirt with skin cancer.

Then it hits me. I am an American. As such I am among the most well nourished, well nurtured, and well educated populace on the planet. Availed of opportunities that many cultures only dream of such as a limitless judicial system almost complete devoid of common sense. Remember, I am an American and nothing I do is my fault!

Blameless nation. Just as it has become clear that we are not responsible for our immortality and violence (it’s the media/music/television), our girth (it’s the fast food joints), or our ignorance (it’s the school’s fault; we’d rather use our computers to access Brittney Spears photos than educational tools) – so too it must be that I am not responsible for my own irresponsibility when it comes to the sun.

Honestly, McDonalds is to blame for the expansive waistlines of so many (after all, don’t you just hate how their employees chase you out into the parking lot at gunpoint, tackle you to the pavement, and force feed you french fries until you hurl enough carrot sticks from your personal arsenal to keep them at bay? So annoying.)

So too your local pool/park/beach is clearly to blame for any undue sun exposure that comes your way. Or mine. Clearly, there has been created a cultural dependence on sand, fun, and sun.

What were all those Annette Funicello movies if not an obvious enticement to get baked? It’s clear that the sun has been marketed to us, creating a taste and later dependence for the very rays that now threaten to turn us to toast.

I gnorance and bliss. Meanwhile, how can I be expected to be responsible for myself? I mean sure I know cerebrally that simply slathering on the SPF 30 would do me good. It’s just too hard. There’s knowing, and then there’s doing.

Don’t harsh my mellow with the fine print baby. Frankly that whole SPF thing is as annoying as that blather that if you don’t want a rear the size of Rhode Island then you should probably back away from the Supersized deep fried fat meal.

That exercise is warranted if we can hoist ourselves from our La-Z-Boys for 20 minutes a day. And that if you don’t want to end up in Intensive Care, you probably shouldn’t do the two-step on a step ladder. Or whatever it is folks do that lead us to product labeling such as “Warning. Striking self with this hammer may result in bodily harm and/or death. Manufacturer may not be held liable for misuse.”

No kidding? But you just know some guy with a hammer hole in his head (or his surviving heirs) introduced the lawsuit that led to this label.

Irresponsibly priceless. Clearly, if the beach had simply posted “sun warnings” around the water I could have been better protected from myself. Further, they might have provided “sun screen stations” where I could be slathered, dunked, or dipped in protective lotions (at taxpayer expense, of course) in order to save me from myself.

Obviously, the Coppertone Corporation (or their parent company or subsidiary of same – I’m not picky) owes me a few million bucks.

Then I could lie there in sun shrouded bliss, scarfing down fries, juggling hammers, and just in general enjoying the freedom of being an American. Uniquely and utterly blameless for anything.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt believes next year will usher in the magical era when she finally remembers to use sun screen. She welcomes comments c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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