Lin’s Bin: Tanning

Robin asked,
“What’s your take on tanning?”

Tanning is just the collateral damage of venturing out of doors.
My natural skin pigment is only possible if you spend your days sealed up in a coffin and you spend your nights draining the blood of women who are as pale as you are.

Think Larry Bird without the skills.

On the other hand, I love the beach. I love the ocean. I love the sun.

Until well into the 20th century, exposure to the suntan was the suffering of the lower classes.
If you were well born and well bred, your skin was unsullied by the pigment scorching sun. The post-WWII beach culture coaxed America out of the shade and into the fire. Now we have tanning salons and lotions that color our skin in the darkest corners of our homes.

I have spent most of my adult life greased with high powered SPF, globs of viscous sunscreen on my nose. Friends have grown weary telling me about the excess liquid pearls on my face so now they just say, “Hey Lin on your nose, you’ve got….oh never mind.”

I wasn’t always so careful. Long before dermatologists starting hacking off chunks of my skin, I would go to the beach and spread some Coppertone over the exposed pallor.
What SPF you ask?
There was no SPF. People didn’t wear sunscreen; they wore suntan lotion. And we all aspired to have a small puppy dog tug our bathing suit so we could show off our tan lines without being arrested.

Actually, topical creams were not applied for protection, but for enhancement.
And tan lines told the intimate secrets of what you wore or didn’t.
Maybe you remember teenage girls using Johnson’s baby oil in the hopes it would accelerate the tanning process.
It accelerated the burning process. It wasn’t tanning. It was basting.
Some complexions handled the broasting better than others.

If like the Brehmer brothers, you arrived at the beach early in the morning. Put some suntan lotion on; went swimming; washed the lotion off; built a sandcastle; ate a hot dog for lunch sitting by the water. You waited an hour after you ate to go swimming. Fell asleep on a big old beer logo beach towel. Played catch with a frisbee. Went swimming a few more times. When you left the beach, your mom would say, “You look like you got a little sun.” Which in the realm of understatement ranks right up there with, you look like you were exposed to a little Chernobyl.
And dad would pull out the all-purpose rubbing alcohol for its temporary cooling effect.
Days later when the alcohol had dried out the skin, your brothers would help pulling carpet sized peels of dead skin off your back.

brothers beach Lins Bin: Tanning

(photo by S.Brehmer)

Today, we are instructed to avoid the sun between 10 and 4.
While the inconvenient truth of the 21st century sun hopes to separate us from the mad dogs and Englishmen, we will not achieve immortality as vampires.
So just let me know if there’s too much stuff on my nose.

More from Lin Brehmer

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