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I think I’ll skip the tan this summer

It is summer again, the time when people are sunbathing in the parks and on the beach.

It reminds me of the time I decided to join them. That summer, I was not going to be left out. I was going to do something I'd never done. I was going to get a tan.

This might not sound like a very difficult thing to do, but it is for me. My light hair and pale, sensitive skin make it scientifically impossible for me to get a tan. I get third-degree burns just from thinking about spending five minutes exposed to sunlight. Vampires are able to get a healthier suntan. That's why I knew my suntan had to be a fake.

I thought the best way to impress the local ladies was to have a sexy, bronze tan. But first I had to figure out how to go about getting a fake suntan. So, one Saturday afternoon, I walked into the local drugstore and started asking questions. This resulted in a few strange looks from the shopkeepers, because I didn't look like the kind of person who would normally walk into a drugstore and ask questions about fake suntan products. It didn't help that I had to ask them to explain everything in tiny, step-by-step detail because I had a difficult time reading the fine print of instructions on the product.

I confused them even more with my reaction after they informed me that I would need two different kinds of suntan dye, one for my body and one for my face. "But I can use one for both, right? It’s all the same skin?" I asked.

"I would not recommend it," replied the shop attendant, looking worried in a way that suggested she really would not recommend it.

"It's alright, I'll just take the body dye, thanks," I replied, not picking up on the rather obvious hint at the time. I returned home, happy with my decision.

I entered the bathroom, stripped off my shirt and shorts, applied my fake suntan body dye everywhere and waited. Soon I would have an amazing tan, I thought. When I looked in the mirror a short while later, I discovered that things had gone horribly wrong. I'd left the dye on for too long, far too long. I had turned completely brown. Not a healthy suntan brown, but a “I just had an accident with a can of brown paint” kind of brown.

To make matters worse, it seemed that I had not distributed the dye evenly. My new suntan was rather more patchy than you would expect from the real thing. Between my fingers, for example, the dye had been able to accumulate and had turned the sides of each digit extremely dark in comparison to the rest of my hand.

I won't mention the other bodily crevices where this also happened, but there were a few, some easily visible.

There is a serious problem when it comes to using suntan dye. If you mess up — as I did quite spectacularly — you can't simply remove it. You have to wait it out until it fades away a few weeks later. This meant that I had to return to work the following Monday looking like I had fallen into an entire vat of industrial strength suntan dye after I had left Friday as the palest and whitest guy on the job.

Obviously, no one was fooled by my fake suntan. I did get extra attention from the ladies, but it was more in the form of shocked looks and sniggering as I walked by.

For the next few weeks everyone was asking if what I had done had been by choice or if I had been forced into it. Every time I simply replied "neither."

Tony Antonides lives in Central Point.

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