_ (01/07/2008) I have a long and tumultuous relationship with Ra. Being from the Coppertone Baby age when parents freely took their toddlers to the beach, sat them in the sun to bake, and then let vicious dogs rip off their bikini bottoms, this fair skin has had more than its share of burns. By Junior High, I learned that she who had the darkest tan got the most male attention at the Mt. Sterling City Pool. So each spring, the minute the sun dispersed enough rays to lay out without my teeth chattering, I slathered myself in Hawaiian Tropic oil, grabbed the aluminum foil tanning mat, and began, what I know now, was the mummification process. Though I have to admit, I still love that freshly greased-up feeling and Pina Colada smell. Come high school, my hometown got its first tanning bed; I fully embraced the cancer coffin.
Come college, I started working summers at The Lost Colony, an outdoor theatrical production that tells the story of a bunch of British Colonist who wander into the woods and never come back. I played an Indian. In order to turn Native American, one was required to wear this stage make-up called Texas Dirt. This disgusting concoction stained clothes, sheets, and was so stubborn that it would stay in your pores until the following Christmas. One season, the costumer decreed that if you could get naturally dark enough, you didn’t have to wear the crap. I was determined to gain an Indian complexion. And, with daily AM visits to the tanning bed followed by 4 hours on the beach, I somehow managed. I’m quite certain that one summer aged me, at least, ten years. To make up for it, I have not stepped into the sun without an SPF 25 or above, even in the dead of winter, for the last twenty years, and yet, come July, when everyone else is all bronze, I too long for color.
When you are naturally the color of biscuit dough, but don’t want melanoma, there is only one option. Self-tan, of course. But, despite the fact that any common yahoo can buy the Banana Boat Summer Color Sunless Tanner from Rite-Aid without so much as a prescription, self-tanning is not to be screwed with. It is a very precise science and not for amateurs. It requires flexibility, sobriety, patience, and a loofah.
At least on three occasions, my own forays into self-tanning have ended with disastrous results. There was the time that I headed out to Central Park without letting my tan properly set, and then got caught in a downpour which turned me into a human tiger. Also, there was the time that I forgot to wash my hands, so it looked like I’d been playing with radioactive Playdough. And then, there was New Year’s Eve 2006. Though I had already self-tanned earlier that day, I didn’t feel I was sufficiently amber, so I had another go round with the Loreal lotion. We arrived at the party at 10pm by 11pm, I was Latina, by midnight, I had the same skin tone as Tina Turner. The picture above was taken during my transformation at approximately 11:15 PM.
But, even with these tanning debacles, I am brave and vain enough to try again and will do so tomorrow. Therefore, the next time you see me I will either inspire you to Ooohhh…and Aaahhh…and call me Bronze Goddess or to burst into the Oompa Loompa song, for which I will slap you.
(06/08/2012) After the recent emergence of the “Tan Mom,” I think we have all learned that it is neither heroin nor nicotine that are the most addictive substances on earth—it is UV rays. As far as self-tanning, it freaks Frank out. He refuses to touch bronzing lotion even with surgical gloves on. And since no one but a contortionist can effectively and evenly do their own back and I have yet to acquire a monkey slave (fingers crossed for upcoming birthday), I no longer even attempt it. However, life on the water comes with a certain amount of sun, even when you’re not actively trying, so I hope to get just enough color this summer not to be mistaken while swimming for the legendary giant albino catfish of Herrington Lake.
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.