Sunday, July 24, 2005

Cursed Lack of Melanin!

For those of you in the Great Big Internet Out There (hi!) who have never laid eyes on me, I have to tell you that I am rather fair-complected. This, despite the fact that my birth certificate actually identifies me as "Negro". I could go into a whole long explanation of this, but suffice it to say that despite identifying alternately as African-American and mixed-race (whatever that means), I have pretty pale skin. I do tan to a nice golden color, but there are times when (as now) I have applied sunscreen incompletely and the result is, shall we say, unpleasant.

I refer, my friends, to the dreaded sunburn.

I get some sort of sunburn at least a couple of times per year, mainly because I am an incompetent sunscreen applier. I almost always fry some portion of my back that is unreachable. Well, this one is a doozy. It is so bad that Sweet William was actually moved to go to the store and purchase this. Mmm, Lidocaine! Sweet Lidocaine! I almost want to break into song, by which you can tell I am truly delusional with the pain. (I am also shocked to see that the link to this product indicates a sale price of $5.89. Sweet William paid $10.99 for the same product at our local Ralphs. Ouch! I'm not the only one who got burned!)

Viva has been very concerned about my sunburn, and quick to reassure me that her own back is fine. That's because she has skin that is naturally the color of just-baked gingerbread. Mmm, gingerbread. She also has someone to slather her completely in sunscreen. (That would be me, again. Hi!) Since we were at the beach Friday sans Sweet William (who has skin the color of a freshly-baked brownie. Mmm, brownies), I was out of luck. I thought about asking one of the lifeguards to help me out, but then I didn't want to be responsible if someone started to drown and my lifeguard was all preoccupied with the Hawaiian Tropic.

I have to admit that it has always irritated me that my skin is this light, although no doubt it has worked to my advantage in countless ways throughout my life. I guess I would rather piss and moan about a sunburn than get pulled over for driving while black or, worse, get turned away from Hermes. (Oh, Oprah. I feel your pain! Oh, wait, I feel my own. It's this damn sunburn!)

When I was a kid, I used to think that my melanin lay somehow dormant somewhere, and that it would wake up and protect me from the sun if I were exposed for an extended amount of time -- say, stranded on a desert isle somewhere a la Gilligan's Island, The Blue Lagoon, or Lost. But now I know the truth: I would sizzle like bacon in the sun. And to continue with the pork product analogy, I vow here and now, I will not make my skin like unto Hawaiian jerky! Henceforth, I will spray sunscreen liberally down my back before going into the sun, and I will put on a cute cover-up after 30 minutes of sun exposure! This is my vow and my promise.

That is all. Go now, and may the Sun Gods smile mercifully upon you.

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