There is a certain comfort to be taken in the knowledge that some things are probably never going to change.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence; the earth will continue to rotate around the sun, and I will not get even an iota smarter.
Learned lesson. After three and a half decades on this earth you would think that by now I would have learned just a little bit about sunscreen. You would be wrong. I have, however, recently learned quite a bit about aloe.
I sum it up thusly, on the first day God made the sun so the devil had no choice but to counter with sunburn.
For the record, I am much better at parenting then I am self-preservation.
Stupid mistake. Despite remembering to coat both children with a thick layer of sunblock, I still managed to believe it a fine idea to stand IN THE WATER under a blazing hot sun for more than four hours with nothing between me and the sun but my own stupidity. I know, just typing it I’m embarrassed all over again.
I honestly don’t know which hurt worse – the peeling or my pride.
What I really suffer from is a case of rampant optimism.
A little sun. Despite years of cause and effect training which would have trained even a gerbil to recognize “sun minus sunscreen = burn,” I continue to operate under the delusion that I, the whitest white girl in America – can get “just a little sun.” This is akin to believing you can get “just a little pregnant” or “just a little nuclear radiation exposure.”
I persist in this belief because in my teens I could – and did – tan.
Tanning goal. That was really my whole life goal back then. Study? Maybe. College? Yeah, whatever.
A nice golden copper toned glow – I’ll work on it day after day until I achieved my goal with only a backyard lawn chair, a couple hundred gallons of baby oil, and my ability to lie completely prostrate for hours at a time to guide me.
Brown baby. They also tell me I used to get “brown as a berry” as a baby. Apparently, I am supposed to take great solace in the fact that I was a real babe when I was FOUR.
Meanwhile back at the pool, well meaning friends tried to warn me. By late afternoon my back was starting to feel a wee bit warm and I thought about sunscreen for a nano-second, but my children blissfully sliding time and again down a waterslide and my need to be waiting at the bottom because, after all, how could I trust the no less than THREE lifeguards on duty, seemed the more pressing matter.
By the time we left the pool, my upper body was the approximate color of a ruby red grape. I radiated enough heat to toast a marshmallow and people just passing by clucked in sympathy and then, I don’t doubt, laughed uproariously when out of my earshot at how stupid some people can be.
Phase two. Now, a few days later, I am currently in phase two of the sunburn process, phase one being the getting burnt part.
Phase two is the back-slapping phase. In this phase people who have never shown even the slightest iota of interest in you previously, people who don’t even KNOW you, will suddenly be seized by the need to slap you on the back.
It’s as if there is a primordial siren call of seared skin. Seemingly unbidden they are moved to “slap!” you on the back with a hearty hail fellow well met even if they know not why.
As you cringe and slither to the floor in a heap of blinding red hot pain, they are left to state the obvious to soothe you, “little burnt huh?” “Little burnt huh?” is obviously code for “I hate you enormously and I wish to see you dead!,” that is the only possible explanation for this.
The only possible defense to back slapping is to make the universally recognized sunburn warning noise whereby you grit your teeth, pull back your lips, inhale briskly and spasm your body inward in the standing equivalent of the fetal position.
Sure, they’ll STILL slap you on the back, but with these motions you are slightly less likely to want to punch them. As if you could really lift your arms to take a swing anyway.
As the days have passed I have regained near normal movement in my upper limbs.
Shedding skin. I have also started to shed skin like a snake, lending whole new meaning to the phrase “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours!” My husband, lucky man that he is, gets to witness it all.
All I can say is that when it comes to reliving the sheer stupidity of the moment when I chose to eschew the necessity of sunscreen for the certainty of a not-so-slow burn, all I can say, is boy, was my face red.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt will live in a cave until fall. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)
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