Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What is that smell?

Somewhere in me is a post about the scream-fest that happened in my home this morning as I was trying to get myself and the boys ready to leave for work and daycare. Sometime I will write about my rising frustrations with them and with myself, and how angry I can get when they aren't cooperating, and how scary that anger is. Someday I'll put that all out there. But tonight I'm just going to bitch a little about sunless tanning products.

First, you should know that I do not tan. Occasionally my cheeks, shoulders, and upper chest get a little pink if I forget the sunscreen, but my arms and legs just remain a blinding white, no matter what. My mother, who has much more of a brunette complexion than I do, used to lie outside with Coppertone SPF 4 and talk about how when she was a little girl she ran around outside all summer and became nut-brown, kind of implying that if I got outside a little bit more, I'd be nut brown, too. This, of course, was way before anyone really knew or cared about skin cancer and wrinkles caused by the sun. I spread oil on myself and lay on a blanket in the grass for hours on end. I hiked and roamed the yard all summer. Still blinding white. In my mid-20's I actually lived outside for an entire summer and I was STILL blinding white. (Though that summer I did have a slightly pale ring around one wrist from my watch band!)

In high school, I tried some sunless tanning products. Quite a few of them, actually. I don't really remember anything about the results except for an embarrassing stench that to me smelled like a cross between cat pee and begonias. Not pretty. So I abandoned the sunless tanners and just stopped wearing shorts altogether. That was working out pretty well, until the last couple of summers. Sundresses, yoga pants. Who needs shorts? Who needs tank tops? I'm not a big swimmer, so the few times I got into a bathing suit in public I just rolled with the comments about my chalky legs and ghostly arms. Whatever.

The truth is, though, summer seems to be getting hotter and hotter. Last summer I broke down and bought some short capris for work, and even some actual shorts. My legs were exposed to the world in all their alabaster glory. Many bystanders were momentarily blinded. Several people called me "Casper," as in the friendly ghost. Random strangers laugh and approach me to line up their own nut brown arms and legs to mine, telling me like my mother did to get outside more often. Ha.

So yesterday while I was at Target I picked up a bottle of sunless tanning lotion, thinking that surely things have gotten much, much better in the couple of years since I was in high school. After my blissful bath last night, I mixed a small quantity of the stuff with my regular lotion and applied it to my legs with my hands stuffed into plastic baggies (a memory of orange tinted fingers rose from the past). It smelled okay, lightly citrus, just like it said on the package. Cool. I let it dry, wrote my blog entry, paid my bills, went to bed. Halfway through the night I woke to the smell of cat pee and begonias, with a light citrus top note. Mmmm. Just like I remembered.

True, my legs do now have some semblance of color, much more like human skin than say...limestone. True, there are some light streaks, and my knees do look a little bit dirty, like possibly I could pass myself off as a gardener. I kind of like the way it looks, and the fact that nobody has yet proven that this particular product will cause cancer. However, I have now taken TWO more baths, one first thing this morning and one this evening, scrubbing my legs vigorously both times with a pouf full of scented body wash, and I am STILL getting whiffs of that nasty smell. I guess it's back to the drawing board, Casper.


Shana said...

Ha! I tried a sunless tanner last summer for the first time in a few years and I totally know what smell you are talking about. Yuck! I do get a tan on my arms, chest, and face though, but my legs never tan for some reason. Not that it matters because I don't wear shorts anyway since I hate my legs! You'll only see me in pants, baybee, even if we go camping this summer. :-)

Miss you!!

cowpops said...

lol! You made me giggle!

As a fellow redhead, I understand the tanning thing. One thing I've found "helpful" is that sometimes, it seems like I have so many freckles, I really DO look tan! ;)

And my legs are blinding too. Your description just made the whole thing comical though. yayyy <3