a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Sunbathing: A Cautionary Tale

< by Jill >

There are fair-skinned blondes who tan, and there are fair-skinned blondes who burn. I’m a burner. I give credit to my dad, from whom I inherited a teaspoon of Irish blood. And that’s all it takes—one drop of Irish and you burn like a campfire marshmallow.

So when my mom suggested a spring-break trip to Mexico, I developed a foolproof plan to protect my ivory complexion:

1. Establish a “base” tan at a local tanning salon.
2. Stock up on baby sunscreen (SPF 50).
3. Cut two eye holes in a black bedsheet.

With the guidance of a seasoned fake-baker, I called up Planet Beach. The desk clerk assured me that 10 minutes in a level-one bed would lay a lovely caramel hue upon my complexion. She failed to mention that tanning salons smell like baked chicken and you have to lay in an illuminated casket. No thank you, I’ll wait for cremation.

I moved on to plan B: Stock up on baby sunscreen. This task proved much easier; I simply located the shelf of baby sunscreen, outstretched my arm, and herded the bottles into my basket with one swoop. Done and done.

Dizzy with triumph, I decided that I was ready for Mexico. Base tan? Who needs it! I have baby sunscreen!

And so, after several hours of travel and a few interrogations from customs (Why do you need all this baby sunscreen?), we arrived in Mexico. I slipped into my bikini, slathered on the lotion, and skipped out to the beach.

A few hours later, I surfaced from a nap to realize my plan had gone terribly wrong: I wasn’t merely pink around the edges, I was purple. And to make matters worse, the purple splotches had bloomed in irregular circular patterns, best described as “moon spots.”

It took two years for my body to fully shed the burn. So please, people of Irish blood, heed my warning: If you ever go to Mexico, bring a black bedsheet with two eye holes.


  Jorie wrote @

Haha! I can relate because I burn pretty easily too. I went to a tanning bed in high school before a big dance and I haaaaated it. I dislike laying out in general—I get hot and flustered and restless—but tanning beds really are illuminated caskets. SO creepy. And they kill you. Full-circle.

  Sandy Klosterwoman wrote @

Oh that dreaded drop of Irish — too bad we couldn’t have given you the bronze beautyness of the Swedes, where your golden tanned mama resides. Oh well – all that goldenness just brings on the wrinkles later my sweet one!!!

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