Friday, June 20, 2008

I Am Tan. Tan I Am.

I think that everyone is entitled to an entirely frivolous dream or two. Something that is emphatically not noble or generous or kind or idealistic. Just a selfish little desire that nags at the mind until it is realized. My dream of this nature has always been to get a tan.

OK, I know it's kind of lame, but just imagine: You are a pasty kid with mousy brown hair living in Southern California. Most people get tanned skin just by walking outside once or twice a week, but your skin stays stubbornly pale; except when you actually make an effort to lie in the sun -- then your fickle hide burns to tomato red and retreats back to white a few days later. This is very frustrating.

So, most of my teen and adult life I have harbored an entirely vain wish to see my skin caramelized at least once. I moved up to the blessed Pacific Northwest, and my melanin inferiority complex lessened a bit (at least many here were as pasty as I for the 8 months a year that the sun is shrouded in clouds), but, in the summer, these infuriatingly outdoorsy folks start showing up looking brown and healthy and fit. Jerks.

About six years ago, I tried tanning beds. I went every day for two weeks before a Las Vegas trip, and sat under the lamps for 10-15 minutes per session. I did not tell Jason, because I wanted him to be blown away when I first appeared at the Luxor's pool area in all my golden glory. Um, I should have known something was up when he never mentioned anything in those two weeks. In Vegas, my blinding whiteness reflected the glare from the water. I was depressed.

Last summer, I decided that my skin and UV rays could never learn to get along, so I went in big for sunless tanning. I bought the super-high-end stuff -- the stuff that says that it will not streak. I faithfully applied it every other day, even employing a disgruntled Jason to get my back. It streaked. And it looked horrible on my knees and elbows, despite the super light touch I used in those trouble spots. The only thing worse than suffering summer in a lily-white state is to go forth with streaky skin. I was embarrassed.

This year, I've been going pretty regularly to the gym (except last week, when I spent my gym time eating King's Hawaiian Bread instead). As I started seeing some buffness come to my arms and legs, their doughy complexion again began to niggle me. I eyed with renewed hope the tanning salon next door to the gym. A thousand and one quotes began to run through my mind; among them: Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience. Like a worn-out bride revisiting the conjugal altar, I pushed open the doors and walked inside.

There, I met the Nut Brown Girl (NBG). She is one of those favorites of fortune who radiate such warmth and likability that immediately engender an absolute trust in what they say. She looked like a wholesome, little nut: dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and a deep, dusky tan. I decided to pour out my troubled tale of ultra-Caucasian angst to her.

At the end of the saga, I pathetically cried out, "So, can you help me? Can you tell me how to get the tan I've always wanted?" She nodded; knowingly, sympathetically, confidently.

"We can," the NBG asserted. And I believed.

She got me the right products and the right tanning bed. I've been three times, seven minutes each time, and I can say that I am tan. At least, I have a wee tan -- not much, but infinitely better than anything I've ever had before. True, some parts of me are red -- those parts, like my belly, which have surely never seen a UV ray before. But the parts that matter -- arms, legs, shoulders, and even my face (though I use sunscreen on it) -- are light brownish, and I feel great!

So, having got that monkey off my back, I can go back to the bigger, grander dreams of helping to achieve world peace and promoting the universal knowledge of Christ. Or, in my reality, the somewhat smaller, but not less important, dream of blessing the Lord and the people He loves in every way that I can.

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