By Jim Bailey
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — Seems as though it took summer long enough to arrive this year. Weekends have been a time for rain to restore the grass that turned a dingy brown last year (never mind that the western states could have used some of it on their wildfires).
So when a hot dry weekend finally arrived in mid-July, just in time for LeeAnn’s big swim meet, I found my skin ill-prepared for several hours in the sun. I thought I had a perfunctory tan. But hours in bright sunshine is another matter indeed.
Fortunately, I take a tan pretty easily. Not so my wife, who tends to turn a lovely shade of pink. I’ve never been one of those sun-worshippers, though, who by my age pride themselves in leather skin from winter months in Florida and summers on the golf course or by the pool. Me, I’d be making regular appointments at the dermatologist.
It was a three-day swim meet. The first was a Friday evening, which I figured I could handle without sunscreen. To ward off the glare I did grab a cap and sunglasses. But by sunset my knees, normally covered by my shorts when I’m in a standing position but exposed when I’m seated on the pool deck, felt as if I’d been standing too close to a charcoal grill.
Aloe applications soothed the tenderness, and I determined to apply sunscreen the next morning. But I didn’t take it with me to the pool. By midafternoon the sunscreen was long gone, and the redness was taking on the color of blazing charcoal as I vainly tried covering one knee at a time with my heat sheet, which obviously wasn’t big enough to cover both knees at once.
And by now my arms, already pretty well browned, were beginning to resemble a medium rare steak. And Bonnie was getting pink as well. My cap covered my face, but not the back of my neck. We left as soon as LeeAnn’s last event was over and headed for the coolness of a restaurant.
More aloe eased the burn somewhat, and this time we remembered the sunscreen the next morning. I also made a point to grab a towel, strategically placing it over my medium-well knees. But by now my arms were feeling the heat as well. And my shirt collar must have been wider than the day before, because my neck was on fire by the end of the meet.
I survived, of course. But I now have one glorious farmer tan, many shades darker than the strip where I wear my watchband and the area under my wedding ring (not to mention my pale torso and feet).
It was worth it. LeeAnn tore up every race that wasn’t a freestyle event, winning a heat in the 100-meter backstroke and finishing second in her 100 butterfly heat.
And I now have enough skin pigmentation to get through the summer.
Jim Bailey’s column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.