My dreams of being tanner fade to white

Note: This column appears in the 6/3 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/4 issue of the Peoria Times

I have this complex that makes me feel that, because I live in Arizona, I should always be tan.

Even as we planned to move here, I envisioned myself living the life of a perpetually tan person. Ah yes, when people came to visit us, or when we made trips home, my skin tone would match that of George Hamilton, and I would regale stories to loved ones about how we go hiking all the time, and how we enjoy lounging by the pool, and -- am I really that tan? Wow, I hadn’t even noticed.

Of course, my tan plan hasn’t always worked to perfection. Plus I’ve come to realize that I was not the only person who planned on me being a darker shade of Caucasian. When we traveled back east last fall, my wife’s aunt, upon seeing me for the first time in like a year, said, “What happened? I thought you’d be tanner, living in Arizona.” To this I was tempted to respond, “Yes, I do live in Arizona. But I’m not a lifeguard. I work in an office. And five months out of the year I cannot venture outside for more than three minutes lest I melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. Also, I was a little tan yesterday, but lost it when the plane experienced turbulence. But thank you for noticing.” I get a little defensive.

You see, I am Irish. My natural skin tone resembles that of a seventeenth-century British aristocrat. It doesn’t help that my lovely wife is Italian –- her olive complexion in direct contrast to mine. But upon moving to the Valley of the Sun, I planned to compensate by soaking up as much of that sun as possible.

This often involved little to no protection. When I originally ventured out here with my father-in-law –- also, coincidentally, Italian -– to look at houses, we spent some down time by the pool. Not realizing who I was, he purchased SPF 4 tanning oil for the both of us. Wanting to embark on my future as a tan person, I didn’t argue. Somebody who did want to argue however was my wife, upon our return home, with me, as a result of my pinkish hue and the full body aloe bath that I now required.

And I only kind of learned my lesson there. My wife forces me to use SPF 70 sun block, which actually makes me paler than before I went outside. So sometimes -– if I’m just going outside for, ya’ know, five minutes –- I will skip the lotion. Inevitably my wife will notice my bright red “tan” lines later and say, “Hmmm, did you put on sun block before?” And I will say, sheepishly, “Yes?” And she will nod her head in disappointment.

This is of course shamefully egotistical and very dangerous. I should take a cue from my own father –- also, coincidentally, Irish. He has to see a dermatologist once a week and he’s only allowed to go outside 10 days per year, and when he does he has to coat himself in medicated paint. He’s like a vampire now. (Side note: He can still drink though!)

So I’m starting to realize that I will never be George Hamilton, who is a wrinkled shade of orange now, by the way. So be it. This is me America –- I am pale, and hairy, and require SPF 70 just to get the mail. Besides, living in Arizona and being darker aren’t exactly a match made in heaven these days.

Good night everyone!

"A great beach-read!"
-- George Hamilton


Bill said…
Don't feel too bad, in fact I encourage you to join me in embracing the "Summer of Inside."

It's kind of like the "Summer of George," except from June through September you go straight from your air conditioned house, to your air conditioned car, to your air conditioned office, store, or other indoor destination, and back again, while avoiding the sun at all costs.
Lisa Ramos said…
"Besides, living in Arizona and being darker aren’t exactly a match made in heaven these days."

beardy said…
As a Scotsman, who also happens to be half Italian--which is besides the point, I definitely feel your pain. Having the paleness of my Scottish mother, combined with the oily skin inherited from my Sicilian father isn't exactly a match made in heaven. I usually end up smelling like sizzling bacon, or pepperoni after about 15 minutes in the sunshine.

BTW, you are freaking hilarious.