Last week I spent several hours at the beach frolicking in the surf. The suntan lotion I had slathered all over myself was the ‘old bottle’, the expiry date on it was November 2007. I didn’t know suncream had an expiry date. So this week, Mr. Stupid is peeling flaky skin off his quivering hide.
That ad which comes on at dinner time is really getting to me, the one where they show ‘skin cells under stress’. Basically the jist of the ad is this; if you’ve ever been sunburned, and let’s face it, who in Gladstone hasn’t, then you’re going to die. It’s almost enough to put me off my meal, but I force it down anyway because I’m obviously going to need to keep my strength up.
The sun never used to be our enemy, and songs about the sun also contained the word ‘fun’, which was what we lived for. Summer days were spent outside playing, swimming or running about in Queensland’s’ industrial strength sunshine, and nearly everyone had a ‘healthy’ bronze tan, with the only exceptions being nuns, nerds and freckly redheads.
Unlike today’s’ porcelain skinned, light avoiding celebrities, many of the stars of my youth sported tans which made them look, trendy, with it, and hip. Admittedly, their sun-wrinkled, leather brown skins had all the elasticity of ancient parchment, but it was the ‘in thing’ and everyone wanted it.
In order to emulate that much desired brown skinned look, we would lie in the sun for hours at a time, our bodies glistening under layers of oil. It sounds incredible when I think about it now, but coconut oil was the lotion of choice; we might as well have been using chip fat! We weren’t sun baking; we were basting, literally roasting in our skins as we rolled about on our towels like chooks on a rotisserie. And like a roast, our skin would quickly dry out, and peel off. So help me God, we actually used to have competitions to see who could get the largest shred of skin off in one piece. Our skin cells were way beyond stressed, they were literally traumatised, and it’s a miracle that any of us have survived this long.
Nowadays at tea time, I sit in front of the tele watching those skin cancer ads while food drops from my slack mouth. Gazing down at my spot covered skin, I fervently wish that I had never lived in a tropical wonderland which encouraged the outdoor life. I wish that I had always worn a shirt and used sunscreen. I wish that I had stapled a wide brimmed hat, the size and thickness of a circus tent to my head every time I left the house. I really wish I’d never been sunburned. Ever.
But mostly I wish that I’d had insisted we eat tea at the table with the tele off, because those ads are killing me.