I made my bed, and I burned in it
September 4, 2007
I don’t have what you’d call a varied wardrobe. If there’s a shirt I find comfortable, I usually buy one in every available color.
Another dress code rule for me is, “No shorts.” It all has to do with my attachment to self-esteem, and my hatred of my exposed white skin.
Instead of trying to illustrate how white my legs are, I’ll let you do it. Find a white piece of paper. Now take that paper and hold it up against a light source. If you’ve done this correctly, you have matched the incandescent skin tone of my legs. (If you did it wrong, you used a candle as your light source. Put this article down and extinguish the fire.)
I was a little tired of the light look, and wanted to see how I could darken it up with 30 minutes of free time. I found a tanning bed, and paid my entry fee. When I finished my 10-minute session, I didn’t feel more socially acceptable so much as I felt like a carton of fast-food fries put under a heat lamp too long.
Later that night, I no longer had whiteness to worry about. I had pinkness instead, as my entire tanned area looked like the inside of an undercooked steak. I confided in only one coworker my secret, and quickly swore her to secrecy. I trusted other coworkers wouldn’t take advantage and slap my burned back at every opportunity, but I figured assumption was much safer than blind trust.
My coworker suggested I buy anything with aloe to soothe the burn, and I did. I looked for shirts made out of aloe, hoping to buy one of every color, but only came away with lotion that bonded my ultra-sensitive skin to my sandpaper-like clothing.
And as much as I like being clean, I thought of skipping showering. When you have a large sunburn, your shower has two temperature settings: Too hot for sunburns, and hypothermia.
Soon, the burn ended ... and gave way to the itching. And the itching. And did I mention the itching?
Through trial and error, I found my best device was to rub my itching chest with ice cubes to numb down and partially moisturize. I had to do this while driving between Clovis and Portales, and I could only hope I didn’t get pulled over by a law enforcement officer. You see, you can’t start a conversation with, “Yes, officer, you did see me rubbing my chest,” without it ending in, “Do you understand your rights as they have been read to you?”
Thankfully, I’m finally on the last stage of a sunburn, when old skin gives way to new skin and the burned portion can be scrubbed or peeled away. The white skin is reappearing, and I’ve never been happier to see it.
But some still focus on how I can get rid of it. The coworker I confided in also confided in me that she used a tanning bed once, and it took her six months to get a little bit of color in her skin.
Six months of aloe, ice cubes and extreme showers, or wearing pants? Pass me some 34-34 slacks in every color you can imagine.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. He can be reached at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: