Living pale in the Age of Bronze

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.

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