Living pale in the Age of Bronze

Lori Borgman | Monday,  May 21, 2018

We are approaching the most dreaded season of the year—Summer. Many people will be walking about showing off golden brown tans that scream, “I swim, I golf, I go boating, I play tennis!”

I will be walking about, my usual pasty white self, a skin tone that screams, “I stay inside and read books all summer!”

I don’t stay inside and read books all summer, it’s just that I’m one of those people who don’t tan. I’m naturally pale. Very pale. I’m so pale I nearly glow in the dark.

On the upside, no one in the family ever needs to hunt for a flashlight. Someone will just say, “Hey, Mom, show a little leg; I dropped my car keys.”

Can’t find something in the back of your closet? Call me. I can wave my arms around and you’ll find things you forgot you owned.

Naturally, every year I think this might be the year I spend a few hours outside and inexplicably develop a lovely golden brown tan. Of course, I don’t. So then I think maybe this is the year there’s a product that will give me a natural-looking golden brown tan.

I’m a marketer’s dream when it comes to self-tanning products. I first tried one when I was a girl of about 15. The advertisement promised it would turn my anemic-looking skin into a beautiful bronze and make me vastly more popular at the ocean’s shore. That was impressive, especially considering that the nearest ocean shore was 1,000 miles away.

I figured if one coat would make me bronze, two coats would make me very bronze. I slathered on three for good measure.

The next morning, I awoke and found that the lotion had indeed delivered results. I looked like a human carrot.

My mother screamed at the sight of me and rushed for her medical book.

I gave up on self-tanning lotions until about a decade ago. There was a new product, a paper towel of sorts, saturated with a lotion that would turn your skin a beautiful golden brown. The instructions said to apply it with circular motions. I woke the next day with circles on my face and arms that made me look like a leopard.

The next year, I tried a foam that said to apply it in vertical motions. For six days I walked around with stripes on my legs and arms that looked like a zebra.

Someone gave me a gift certificate for a spray tan a few years ago. It left me golden brown with a just a hint of orange, but had an unpleasant odor to it. Everywhere I went people asked, “What smells?”

I’m finished trying to be someone I’m not. I have finally made peace with being pale in the Age of Bronze.

As a matter of fact, our local symphony does outdoor concerts every summer. I’m thinking of volunteering as an usher.