A tan’s the thing, is it not? I figured my strategy was good … show up at the beach at 4:00 and stay a couple of hours, avoiding the most damaging rays of the sun. Plus I slathered on SPF 30 and reapplied it halfway through.
My history of wanting a good tan goes way back to the teen years when I was sorely afraid of anyone seeing my white body. But now I’m 67. Does it really matter that I’m brown all over, that I return to friends in Canada with a bodily badge of honour? I think not.
Still there I was yesterday on a sublime white sand beach, hauling a lounger out of its thatched shade so I could get the full meal deal. I pulled off my t-shirt and shorts to reveal a sparkling lime green Speedo. Last time here, I had little hesitation about prancing around in such skimpiness but this time I was afraid.
Maybe thirty posts ago, I talked about a physical problem I’ve developed. I was sure scared to press “Enter” after that writing was done, but I did it, and then hoped that time would erase any record of the subject. Well … here I go again. I have benign cysts on my testicles such that the little guys have turned into big guys, two to three times their normal size. Add that to the reality of wearing a Speedo and you can see my problem. Before coming to Cuba, I’d decided that gym shorts would be my bathing suit. Maybe I’d strip to my Speedo in the confines of my beach lounger but I sure wouldn’t walk around wearing it.
So there I lounged in the Speedo way, reading my book. Yes, the urge came to get up and walk down the beach. “No, Bruce! People will … ” Come on now – people will what? “They’ll laugh, point, or maybe call security.” Geez. Just get up and stroll around. So I did, first walking out to the shore and staring out at the infinite ocean. Nobody tackled me. So I turned right and dipsy doodled along the water’s edge. Two or three folks did look at my central area but I kept going. Then a young woman came up and asked me to take a picture of her family. They were lined up looking at me as I fiddled with the camera. I’m pretty sure I was blushing but I hoped they’d mistake it for sunburn. I took too much time and the screen went blank. So more time as she showed me how to get the camera going again. Happily, no one stuck out their tongue or vomited, but I was dying inside.
I could have made a bee line back to my chair but instead, girding my loins, I meandered along the shore some more. I climbed the steps up to the beach bar and ordered a pina colada, then walked in front of maybe fifty people back to my temporary home. No bolt of lightning struck me down. I was thrilled and astonished. I did it. And really it was just a couple of body parts that had gotten out of control. I hummed a happy tune.
After supper, I sat in the lobby bar reading Birdie, the story of a Canadian aboriginal woman that almost won the Canada Reads competition on CBC Radio. The heavens opened up before, during and after. The bar is open to the elements, tempered by the translucent blinds that offered some protection from the rain. What I experienced was delightful. The lightest mist fell upon my face and arms … just like Niagara Falls. The perfect end to a perfect day. Or perhaps not.
I was in bed by 11:00 and up by 12:30. The bod was on fire, not with a burn but with itching. I turned on the light to see what was shaking. What I saw was lots of tiny blisters adorning the newly tanning areas. (Big sigh) Sleep seemed impossible. I knew that I had some hand lotion with me, so I rubbed that on. More fire. So into the shower I stumbled. That helped a bit. I took the second sleeping pill of the evening and lay down again. The itching continued. I resigned myself to a largely sleepless night. That was about 1:30. I woke up at 9:00. The blisters were gone. Thank you, Jodiette, and other beings who watch over me.
Bye bye, tan. From now on, I’m staying in the shade – under the thatched huts on the beach and hanging loose in the lobby bar. My cold is full speed ahead. My energy is way down low. But my soul is happy. Quite the adventure, this life of ours.