Monday, June 22, 2009

True Colors vs. Self Tanner

(Pre-Script: For the true colors of this post to shine through, first go down to the playlist, click on the song, "Black or White," #52 on the playlist, then come back and let it play as you read the post. Go ahead and do that, I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

On Friday, I acquired a sunburn on my chest, my right forearm, and the back of my calves. The right calf is worse than the left calf. I am a fastidious applier of sunscreen, but even those of us with such proactive diligence get the "sunburned in strange places" blues. My right arm has a pale stripe where my bracelet was. red/white/red. It could be the flag of a country, or a chant that the cheerleaders cheer at high school basketball games. Today, I noticed that the burned places are starting to turn brown. This would be good if only I had evenly burned the entire sheet of skin the rest of me resides beneath, for now I am now a different kind of striped. brown/white/brown. A different small country's flag, the opposing basketball team's cheer.
I no longer try to tan myself, as I did when I was 12, and there was the great fake tan debacle, where in my hands ended up orange stained for a week. I will not go into it here, except to say that one could do worse than be a 13 year old girl with hands stained orange from self tanner, but not much.
Okay, okay, I did it because I thought it was regular sunscreen, and also because it promised to make my skin tan in 2-4 hours, and I wanted so badly for that promise to be true. I was tired of being called "Casper the Friendly Ghost," by the immature 13 year old boys. Whoever tells 13 year old girls that 13 year old boys only tease them because they like them is lying. If a 13 year old boy is interested in a girl, he says "Will you go around with me," at least he did circa 1989. If he thought something about her was unflattering, he would make fun of it. He would call her "Casper the Friendly Ghost."
When I was 20 or 21, circa 1996 0r '97, someone looked at my arm and validated it's color for the first time ever. I believe he said "You do not need to tan this. It is beautiful. Not everyone can have this kind of skin." Well, sweet potato pie and shut my mouth, I decided that I just might as well believe him. It sure beat hating myself for being what I was.
Which is also good because the application of self tanner has many downfalls as well. Most people will not get orange hands from self tanner, if they remember to wash their hands after applying it to themselves, as it says right there on the bottle. But there is also the issue of knowing where exactly to put the self tanner, knowing if you have evenly and accurately rubbed it in, since the tan does not show up right away. This is as hard as trying to remember 7 times 8 on the spur of the moment. When anyone asks me what 7 times 8 is, which is just about never, I am immediately transported back to 3rd grade, on a day when Mrs. Watson is the substitute teacher. Mrs. Watson's days spent substitute teaching flip flopped between listening to her life stories and being grilled on our times tables. She was particularly fond of the times tables for the number 8. Oh, how my nine year old self hated the number 8 for it's times tables. But Mrs. Watson would grill us and tell us how important it would be when we were grownups to know our times tables. Then she would grill us again. She must have been confusing our class of 3rd graders for that other class of 3rd graders, the ones who would grow up to be grown ups who threw wild raucous parties where everyone drank root beer and recited times tables to each other. But we were not that class. We were the class who grew up to become the grown ups who only use times tables when grilling our own children for their 3rd grade homework, while simultaneously telling them now important these are to know, how often they will need them as adults. Maybe about as often as they will need sunless self tanner.


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