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