There is a lingering stereotype of the British, portraying us as sun-mad plebians who, at the first hint of weekend summer sunshine, strip our clothes off and expose our under-exercised, wobbly, tone-free glowing white flesh to the great eye in the sky. This then results in the inevitable mass casualty list of sun burn victims who drag themselve into work and congratulate each other on an sun-filled weekend of indulgence and express jealous Ooohs and Aaahs over the colour change from white to red.
Although I have a coffee-coloured Asian Mum, my Dad is a freckly, uncooked chicken-white cultural blend of European countries that don’t boast excessive summers, and therefore although my Brother is a naturally caramel hued creature who tans fabulously with little effort, my default skin tone is pale. However, thanks to my inherited Asian DNA I have discovered that if I tan carefully and steadily I too can enjoy a lovely olive-brown skin tone without too much effort.
I have readily mocked the British relationship with the sun – that mindless stripping-off that we do when the suns rays beat down, the mass migrations to the coast, the brutal courting of the suns rays that we go through – and you’d think that I would in turn be less of a novice when it’s my turn to baste myself.
However, you’d be surprised. Exactly 2-weekends ago today The Hublet and I decided to take ourselves to the beach to make the most of the long awaited Florida sunshine after what has been a surprisingly long, cloudy, wet winter. We went to the store and loaded up on beach chairs, towels, a dorky foam board to goof around on, and even went out of our way to pack a bottle of sun lotion.
We headed away from Jacksonville and bimbled down towards St. Augustine, choosing a far less crowded beach on which to unveil our winter-white virgin flesh for the first time. We arrived at the beach and were so keen to maximise our tanning potential that we made the decision to not slather ourselves in sun lotion.
Why. Why did we make this amateur mistake? Was it my British DNA betraying me? Was the sun sending nefarious rays to my brain and messing with my common sense center?
We spent 3-hours at the beach: 3 glorious hours of paddling and splashing and reading books and shaming ourselves on the foamie board under the judgmental glare of serious surfers. After 3-hours of blissful abandon we decided to head back to Jacksonville and, upon returning to the truck, were happy to see that we had both definitely caught the sun.
Oh boy had we.
Over the next few hours our sun-kissed glow rapidly began to turn into taut, painful, red flesh.
I couldn’t walk properly by nightfall and we both gingerly eased ourselves into bed, thankful that our backs had not caught the wrath of the sun in the same way that our fronts had, allowing us to at least sleep on one part of our bodies that wasn’t turning into lava.
I won’t go into further details as The Mothership has already given me a massive ear bashing over the phone, everyone at work had their, “You shouldn’t have done that, you should have done (insert obvious statement here that, to someone with pure unburned skin is so easy to offer) instead…” moment, and I just know that all of you guys will be tutting to yourselves as you read this post.
Suffice to say, PLAY SAFE IN THE SUN KIDS. Make sure you slather up with lotion before you go out as, with sun burn, prevention is infinitely preferred to cure.
2-weeks later I’m still a little leper, however I’m happy to say that underneath the peeling skin I have definitely changed colour and can swear that beneath the children-scaring layers is a hint of olive.
Summer Season = 1, Me = 0