If I let myself do everything that I wanted to do, watching my life would be like watching a dumpster fire. I usually choose the right path, but it takes me a moment. One really long moment. I use that moment to think about consequences.
My first instinct may not always be the right one, but I’ve always had a firm grasp on consequences. Well, maybe not always, but I learned quickly. If I tear my friends fort down, he is going to punch me in the nose and it will forever be bent slightly to the right side. (Thank you Michael Calvin) If I don’t stop talking in class I won’t see recess for my entire 1st and 2nd grade. If I talked sass at Babysittin’ Granny’s house she would make me go pick out a switch off the bush out front.
The problem is that sometimes I’m willing to put up with serious consequences.
You know what I like? I like being tan. When I was little, all the moms would put Sun-In in everyones hair so we would get blond streaks. Then they would break out the bottle of baby oil and slather it all over themselves when we would be at the lake or the pool. We went to the lake a lot. I have quite a few memories of burning to a crisp. Many memories of my mom rubbing in aloe vera on my burnt skin. In high school I tanned out on my trampoline. I fell asleep and my entire back got so burnt my teachers at school let me lay down on the floor during class for two entire days. Two days.
No one said that tanning was bad. Not then. Not with any real voice. That came later.
‘Tan fat is muscle!’ was my mantra while I lived in California.
Right before I had my first child, my grandfather was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of skin cancer. It’s fatal in less than a year. His surgeon told us my grandfather is the only person to have survived this cancer. The only one. That was 11 years ago and it’s still true today. They had to take off half of his face and neck to get it.
I stopped tanning. I was the whitest white girl you ever did see. But it wasn’t that much of a sacrifice as I was in the midst of having three children and my bathing suit moments were few and far between. When I was forced to be in a bathing suit, I’d rush from my cover up to the cover of the water. Being the whitest white girl was the least of my concerns.
A few years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and lost my weight I had gained on my baby making journey. Then I joined the gym so I could be strong. The result was being able to fit into a bathing suit I hadn’t worn since my honeymoon.
Time to tan.
The knowledge of the destruction skin cancer causes didn’t go away, it was just overshadowed by the overwhelming urge to prance around in a bikini. A bikini! Judge all you like, but if you had gone from obesity and tent swimsuits to being able to fit into your honeymoon bikini and weren’t I-Won-The-Lotto excited, then you are a better person than me.
I went from telling my husband that we should go on an Alaskan cruise where I could be covered from head to toe our entire trip to envisioning myself climbing out of the surf sporting the dark sheen of an island native while people gasped in awe of my marvelous tanned, bikini body.
I’ve never lacked in the imagination department.
I realize no amount of tanning is going to make that happen. But tan fat is muscle. So I tanned. I tanned and when I tan, I look acceptable (if not island goddess) in a bikini when I look in the mirror.
At the end of last summer my 10 year old asked if she could lay on the lounge chair next to me and tan with me. My response was somewhere in the vicinity of, “H*#$ no you can’t tan with me. You look perfect exactly how you are and it’s bad for you. You will ruin your skin and it causes cancer.” She justifiably looked horrified. Her eyes got big on her face and she asked me why I was doing it.
It’s amazing how the consequences get much bigger, much faster when you are trotting out examples for your children.
Time to stop tanning.
But you know what I still like? I like being tan. Today I got a spray tan. I got a spray tan in a machine that looks like a spaceship emergency escape capsule while I wore a hair net and prayed I didn’t come out looking like a nacho dorito.
It was cheap, it was clean, it was fast, it didn’t make me smell or look like a dorito. They have 4 levels and I just picked level 2 out of thin air. Let’s roll the dice and see what this gets me.
It’s January in Missouri. I was a very white, white girl this morning. Tomorrow I am going to go to church looking very ethnic. Very ethnic. I accomplished in 5 minutes what I couldn’t get after an entire summer in the sun. My husband saw me and rattled off some Spanish to me.
I’m pretty sure he said, “Island Goddess, I will love your tanned bikini clad body forever.”