‘Hazy, hot, and humid’ has been flowing profusely from the lips of well-groomed weatherpersons. Back in the winter it seemed the sun was a million miles away—which, of course, it is, but that’s beside the point. So, as the temperatures soar, it’s a good idea to start thinking about summer sun safety.
First of all, always remember that the sun is a huge incandescent body of gasses with a diameter of about 865, 000 miles across and a mass about 322,000 times greater than that of earth. In layman’s terms, though it is a heavenly body, the sun is hotter than hell. It’s a great ball of fire that can turn an asphalt driveway into a pool of oily black syrup. And how do we respect that? Well, some lay half-naked in chaise lounges and let that great ball of fire bake their bodies until they resemble charred marshmallows on a stick of kid at summer camp.
Why do we cremate ourselves on beach towels while listening to our favorite radio station from which the DJ announces the tanning index every fifteen minutes and warns us to bring our pets indoors or we will be having beagle barbecue for dinner?
Scarlett O’Hara is one of our greatest Southern heroines. If you recall, she was known for her lily-white complexion; not her tanned, leathery skin. I assure you that if Scarlett had donned a bikini bottom and laid out on the steps of Tara, Rhett Butler would have said “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about your tan” and the story would have ended way before the burning of Atlanta.
On the other hand, there are other Southern females who males have admired for their deep dark tans. For instance, Catherine Bach who played “Daisy Duke” on one of the greatest TV shows of all time: “The Dukes of Hazzard”. What man can forget how she looked in those cut-off jeans and gingham tank top? But how seriously has she been taken in the movie industry since then? In other words, a deep summer tan just isn’t respected as much as it used to be. Honestly, by the time Daisy Duke reaches the ripe ol’ age of 65, she’ll look less like Malibu Barbie and more like Uncle Jesse Duke.
Medical journals write their warnings and Redbook interviews skin cancer survivors, but you still see bronzed guys and gals walking about flaunting their supposedly sexy tans all the while raising their odds of having to go under the dermatologist’s scalpel.
I am no sunbather. I love working and playing outside, but you won’t find me laying in the yard and sizzling like a Lean Cuisine low-cal meal in a microwave. I tried it once just prior to our annual pilgrimage to the North Carolina coast. I was trying to acquire that all too important tanned base before I hit the sand.
Like many country folks, I suffer from that unbecoming condition known as “farmer’s tan”. Fully clothed, one would barely notice the malady, but in a bathing suit you will discover I resemble a carton of Neapolitan ice cream. My hunting socks and Redwing work boots have left my feet and ankles white as snow. From my calves to my thighs I am dark chocolate. From the thighs to the neck, well, more vanilla with strawberry arms and a single band of vanilla on my left wrist where my watch band has prevented any of the sun’s rays. It is not a pretty sight and will likely prevent my admission into the provocative “Men of Scottsville Calendar” for 2020.
Anyway, to prepare for this beach trip I had decided to try my hand at sunbathing. But I could never get comfortable. I spread my beach towel on the ground, set up my transistor radio, placed my cold drink beside me, lathered up with Number 20 sun block, and stretched out for what was supposed to be a calming, self-indulging, tanning session. It was not to be.
First, there was the annoying phenomenon that occurs when you turn the radio to your favorite station and by the time you situate yourself on the beach towel, the music is replaced with static. I moved in several different positions. Finally, the music returned but of course by then I was in a most uncomfortable position. I repositioned the radio. All was well until I tried to rest again on the towel. When my back touched the terry cloth, the static returned. Off to a great start indeed.
There was a rock on the ground where I put the towel. As I listened to the faint sound of Tom Petty under the heavy static, I tried to ignore the rock’s sharp edge digging into my shoulder. A minute later I raised my head, took a swig of my cold beverage, lowered my head back to the towel and blindly put my glass back on the ground. Needless to say, the clump of grass on which I placed my drink was not the flat surface I was looking for and the drink spilled. Dehydration was in my future.
It wasn’t long before the sweat began to pour from my body like the ants that were pouring over my pale white feet. Then there was the buzzing horsefly and an angry wasp and if that wasn’t enough, the radio station cleared up just in time for the DJ to announce a commercial free hour of David Hasselhoff's greatest hits. That was the last straw. I cancelled by sun worshipping session and slipped back into my hunting socks and Redwing work boots. I was human once again.
Beach or no beach, calendar or no calendar, I refuse to take part in this dangerous, uncomfortable, and time-consuming process known as sunbathing. Summer is too short to spend it cooking yourself like a rotisserie chicken at Food Lion. With that said, I would like to promote a new fashion statement for the Summer of 2019. This should be the year of the “farmer’s tan”. Let’s make a whiter shade of pale the color of the season and leave the deep dark tans to the only ones who need them: skinny fashion models, centerfolds, and that pretty Duke cousin from Hazzard county.