In the pool three days this reporting period. Sunburned Thursday morning, slathered on Neutrogena SPF 60 Saturday afternoon, slathered on SPF 60 and waited until after 5:00 p.m. and found a spot in the shade of an umbrella today. And all three days, wore a hat.
For the record, I am not the woman in the photo. I looked like that once, and it was unintentional. I sat beside the Frio River in Concan one August afternoon, painting the scene and managing to forget that no amount of shade protects against the sun reflecting off the water. I burned through the white tee-shirt I was wearing.
The other time I risked looking like that, I answered the call to garden by creating a twine lattice for the queen’s crown to climb around my side porch. At high noon. On a 100-degree June day. I didn’t burn, however. I broke out in an itchy rash on my face, neck, and arms. I went to the doctor and begged for steroids, my only hope of stopping the misery. Two weeks later, I walked in on a group of my colleagues taking a break from the library’s summer reading program.
“I have a job interview on Monday,” I said. “Should I mention the rash, or just ignore it?”
The response was unanimous. “Mention it!” After disposing of my question, they asked their own, beginning with, “What in the world did you do to yourself?”
I’ve spent time in the sun–on bicycle, on horseback, in river and pool–but I’ve never been a sunbather. The heat, the sweat, the glare (which made reading impossible), the boredom…Soaking up rays for the sole purpose of turning into toast is not my idea of fun.
I learned about ultraviolet radiation when my family joined my aunt’s family for a day on the beach at Galveston. I was three years old. My mother spent the day rubbing me down with Sea-N-Ski and dragging me back into the shade of the big umbrella. She later explained she was afraid that if I burned, she would have a very sick child on her hands.
As it turned out, she should have made my father, who shared my black hair and blond complexion, spend his day under the umbrella as well. He was unable to work the next day. My mother assigned him and Lynn, my thirteen-year-old cousin, who had come home with us, to twin beds in the large, airy back bedroom. Several times a day, she applied her favorite burn remedy: Foille. It had been used on our soldiers in World War II, she said, and was therefore the best balm for civilian burns as well.
Unfortunately, Foille, a nasty-looking yellow ointment, had a doubly nasty odor. Daddy didn’t complain–I don’t think he said much at all that day–but Lynn did. The exchanges went like this:
“Oooohhhh, Crystal, that stinks. It’s going to make me sick.”
“No, it’s not. Now be still and let me put this on your back.”
“Ooooooohhhhhhhhh, it sti-i-i-i-i-i-nks. I’m going to be si-i-i-i-i-ck.”
“Lynn, stop that right now. They used this on the soldiers in the war. Be still so I can put it on your back.”
I remember all this vividly because I observed it first-hand. Every time Mother went on a Foille raid, I trailed along behind. I spent the rest of the time making raids of my own to check on the invalids. Exchanges went something like this:
“Lynn, when are you going to play with me?”
“Uuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Go away.”
“You want to play Chinese checkers?”
“Will you draw me a picture of a horse?”
“Crystallllllllll, make Kathy GO AWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!”
Mother made me go away, I sneaked back, Daddy went to work the next day, Lynn got up and drew me a picture of a horse. And for years after, I periodically reminded everyone of the time Lynn and Daddy got sick from too much sun and I didn’t.
I was an insufferable child, but cute.
This began as report on my progress regarding exercise, sleep, and writing, but, as so often happens, it drifted. Since there isn’t a lot to say about sleep and writing, I’ll stop in mid-drift. There’s still time to work on sleep before the sun comes up.