Sunscream

 

So, the unofficial kick-off to summer is nearly here.  And while that’s exciting in many ways, I have to tell you that there are some things I hate about this time of year.

Mostly, the sun.

See, there are people who need sunscreen (everyone, in theory) and then there are people who NEED SUNSCREEN.  Like me.  I can burn under a 50-watt bulb. I can burn while going out to get the mail.  I can, despite my very best efforts, suffer at least one burn per year that causes the general public to wince and point in sympathetic pain, while considering calling an ambulance.

It’s like trying to outrun and outsmart a very powerful enemy, all summer long.

This has been going on my whole life.  Remember how much you loved Field Day as a kid?  Not me.  I burned every year.  Class trips?  Fried.  Beach outings?  Forget it.  And then there was the time in seventh grade when my family went spring skiing at a very high altitude.  My face suffered second degree burns that were not only incredibly painful, but also required my use of a burglar-style ski mask for the remainder of the vacation.  It made for a great family photo, as well as preparation for any potential life of crime I was considering.

The sun hurts.

It wasn’t that we didn’t use sunscreen when I was a kid, but the truth is that nobody was nearly as diligent as they should have been back then.  {Omg, I’m saying “back then.”  This is what happens when one turns 40.}  And, at that time, pure white zinc oxide was probably the only reliable consumer product available that would have helped me.  That wasn’t really a look I was going for in junior high.

As I got older and suffered more and more burns, I got smarter about my approach.  Kind of like the mouse in a science experiment who gets an electric shock every time he eats the cheese in the maze.  Yet, despite my best efforts over the years, I’ve missed spots in the sunscreen application process.  I’ve burned the backs of my knees, my scalp, my ear lobes, the tops of my pinky toes and my armpit.  I’ve had bizarrely random handprints formed on my stomach from where my sunscreen application began and ended.

Stupid sun.

So about ten years ago, all of this caught up with me and I had a brief fling with melanoma.  I was lucky that it was easily treated.  But, lest I forget that entire experience, I am forced to endure some resulting humiliation twice a year.  I have to see my dermatologist, obviously, to make sure I have no new/bigger/threatening moles.  And do you know how that’s done the super-thorough way?  No?  Let me share.

Shortly after my melanoma episode, my visit to the dermatologist went like this:

Him: “You know, the only effective way to keep a diligent watch on your skin is to have slides done.”

Me:  “Slides?  What do you mean, slides?”

Him:  “You know, we’ll send you to a  medical photographer and he’ll do a series of photographs to capture everything currently on your skin.  That way, I have a ‘before’ comparison to look at every time you come in.”

Me:  “By ‘series of photographs,’ how detailed are we talking?”

Him:  “Every inch of your naked body.  But they are all super-close-up, so nothing could identify you.  It’s not like a centerfold.”

Me:  “Is he a doctor?”

Him:  “No, he’s a medical photographer.”

Me:  “Oh.”

Him:  “You really need to do this.”

Me:  “Oh.” {cue smelling salts}

Goddamned sun.

So off I went to some random penthouse (no pun intended) in Manhattan to see this medical photographer.  It didn’t help that this guy gave me  a business card that appeared to be run off of old ditto paper on his home printer.

My husband came with me — because this whole thing was feeling very Law & Order Special Victims Unit.  Or at least like a bad bad ABC After School Special.  Thank God he did — not because I was physically put in harm’s way, but because I have a lifelong witness to verify the extent of humiliation and psychological scarring involved in medical photography.

How bad could it be?  Well, let’s see.  I’d characterize it as far fucking worse than I ever imagined.

  • Bright, industrial-grade photography lights, EVERYWHERE.
  • Me on a pedestal.
  • Naked.
  • Some stranger — who IS NOT A DOCTOR {and looks eerily like the bartender from that great place on the Lower East Side} — with a camera, who I was quickly beginning to suspect was hired off of Craig’s List, snapping away.

“Can you turn so we can get the inner thigh please?”

Ohmygod.

Ohmygod.

Kill me.

Please.

I looked across the room at my husband and his jaw was more than slightly hanging open in shock.  Probably not what he had in mind when we did that whole “for better or for worse” thing.

The sun sucks.

So now, every trip to the dermatologist entails my slides being projected across the room {life size, naturally} while every inch of my naked body is compared to these “before” photos.

Fucking sun.

As luck would have it, my kids are just as fair-skinned.  Talk about hitting the DNA shit list.  So suffice it to say I’m a freak freak freak freak about sunscreen for them (and for me).  Basically, if they are going outside in the sun, or looking at it through the window screens, there’s going to be copious sunscreen.

You can imagine how much they love this.  But they know it’s a deal-breaker to play outside without “sunscream,” as they put it.

And I, therefore, spend my time from Memorial Day to Labor Day (actually from about April to November) basically chasing two greased pigs in an endless cycle of applying and re-applying sunscreen.  All in an effort to avoid public wincing, red hot burns in strange places and a future photography session with a shady guy who has zero medical background.

I hate the sun.

If you’re a leisurely tanner — well, enjoy your long holiday weekend in the sun.  In our house, we’ll be stocking up on wet suits and putting our names on a list for a melanin transplant.

Happy summer, all.

 

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Comments

  1. Karin Lesko says:

    I well remember the skiing sunburn (wince) but the medical photographer – OMG! Great story, Kim. I’ll be thinking of you each and every time I half- heartedly apply “sunscream”.

  2. Alexandra says:

    You know what? ONLY YOU can write something like this: where I feel it.

    Funny, sweet, your husband by your side.

    And hating the sun.

    Me too: I had a basal cell 3 years ago. under my eye.

    I hate the freakin’ sun.

    • fordeville says:

      Thank you — I’m glad you feel it. But hopefully not on your skin.
      I’ll see you all in November, once it’s safe to go outside again.

  3. tara says:

    Yes I know it’s not on the best organic/natural sunscreen list, however any spray sunscreen that allows me to chase down my kids to properly douse them is #1 in my book.

    -Another fellow sun hater

    • fordeville says:

      The spray is a great Shock & Awe approach. Unless the wind is working against you, of course (we all find that out the hard way, right?).

  4. sparkling74 says:

    I have always been pretty vigilant about sunscreen and when my mother got a melanoma scare a few years ago, that upped the ante for me. BUt I hate being a greased pig and I hate how everything smells like chemicals. I hate being hot and won’t wear long sleeves in the sun. And Im’ in the sun all summer. It’s a nightmare, as you describe. And of course, I totally worry about what the sunscreen is doing to me…. Found you at finding the funny and may you bear the burden of naked skin photos for all of us, instead of us!

    • fordeville says:

      If I can stop another person from having to endure the naked skin slides, then my work here is done :)

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