Monday, June 14, 2010

30 Days of Smell -- Sunscreen

In Tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire to take their clothes off and perspire
It's one of those rules the greatest fools obey
Because the Sun is far too sultry and one must avoid its ultry-violet rays
The natives grieve when the White Men leave their huts
Because they're obviously....definitely....Nuts!

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun
-- Noel Coward, "Mad Dogs and Englishman"

Well, I am neither truly a mad dog or an Englishman (though the latter is my heritage -- and some wonder about the first), but I am in the tropical climes (sort of) and while I did take my clothes of and perspire, I took them off to put on a pair of bathing trunks and head out to the ocean side in the midday sun.

The water was refreshing but I am, as my good doctor put it, blessed with northern European fair skin, and so after a very short while, the scent of burning flesh accosted my nostrils. Okay, it was not quite that drastic, but noticed my shoulders felt a little warm. So I scrambled up out of the water and headed to my beach chair where I'd stashed my SPF4,000 sunscreen.

A little girl started crying when she saw me. "Mommy, what is that bleached white thing running up the sand?" she moaned, pointing. "Don't be afraid, darling," I heard the mother comfort her, "it's just Moby Brent, the great white whaleman."

Reaching my chair, I dried off and slathered the sunscreen on. It smells the same to me as it always did and brought back memories of being the whitest kid at Westview Swim Club in Columbus, Ohio. "The Amazing Brently -- The Boy Who Will Not Tan."

The few times I tried to tan, I ended up being badly sunburned. The sunburn then turned into a giant skin flakes until I looked like a reptile shedding his skin. While others tan as brown as a berry, I burn bright as a cherry. Not at all an attractive look.

So the scent of sunscreen soon came to mean safety from sunburn to me. A welcome smell of protection. Dowsing myself with sunscreen means I can go play in the ocean or spend hours at the holy game of golf and come home with my skin moisturized and as cadaverously white as when I left.

I also thought about other sun protection I have. Found in the Bible. Psalm 121:6 to be exact. "The sun will not smite thee by day..." King James Version. Ya just gotta love the idea of the sun not smiting. And why won't I be smitten? Because, "The LORD shall preserve thee..."

Ah, the ultimate sunscreen.

Okay, that may seem a bit of a stretch ... to go from the virtues of Coppertone Sport SPF 30 to the watchfulness of the Lord, but that's how a kid who grew up reading and memorizing the Bible thinks as an adult. I'm Bible-haunted and my life -- including sunscreen -- reminds me of verses.

I don't think that's a bad thing. Especially when I need protection from the sun -- and a number of other sorts of things, too.

Now, I have given up the idea that, even as buff as my body is, strolling the beach will ever get me longing glances, amazed at the rock hard abs and my deep dark tan and my full head of beached hair blowing in the breeze. Instead, I am an almost 60 year old white man who, if he wants to live until his 70s or 80s needs to cover up. And besides, it's fun to scare little kids occasionally.

-- Brent

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