I’m always suspicious when the Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach wants to go out and do something with me. Against my better judgment, I recently went with her to a movie and then we grabbed a bite to eat afterward. When we got to the restaurant, I ordered the French Dip, extra fries, split pea soup, and key lime pie for dessert.
The waitress turned to her, and the Woman Who is Always Tan and Has a Flat Stomach said, “Actually, I’m not hungry and I never eat when I’m not hungry. I’ll just have herbal tea, thank you.”
The waitress left.
I stared at her and said, “You’re not ordering?”
“I’m not hungry.”
I said, “So?”
She confided, “I don’t gain weight that way.”
I said, “I haven’t been hungry since 1981, but that certainly hasn’t kept me from eating. And in 1981 I was only hungry for about ten minutes until they fixed the microwave in my dorm.”
I pressed on, “Do you know that when my doctor prescribes medication that has to be taken on an empty stomach, I have to set my alarm for 4 a.m.?”
And then I yelled, “And do you flat stomach people care that when I got pregnant, I began to show seven hours later?”
She pretended not to hear me.
Not only is she always thin, she is always tan. In her ancestry she was lucky enough to have a great-great-grandparent who was Italian or Spanish.
Obviously, my ancestors were only thinking of themselves and not me when they only married other Norwegians. Would it have hurt anyone to marry someone who was not named Lars or Ole so that we could get some color into our skin tones? Sure, it would have required six-month-long boat journeys to other countries to meet someone with darker skin, but that wouldn’t have killed them.
Well, probably not, anyway. Okay there was a good chance they might not have made it, but is that really the point here? Hadn’t they ever heard the song, “Lady of Spain I Adore You?”
So last year prior to having to accompany my daughter to the neighborhood pool, I decided to do something about my Norwegian-colored skin. I decided to go to one of those spas where they first exfoliate your skin and then apply a tanning cream so that in May I would not look so much like a cadaver wearing shorts. Actually, I think a cadaver has more of a glowing tan to its skin than I do.
The woman at the spa applied the tanning cream, and I went home and waited three to four hours for my beautiful bronze tan to appear. What happened, however, was that I turned more of a light, pallid color. This in no way approached the description “bronze” or “tan.” I compared myself to my husband, who had not yet been out in the sun at all this year, and I was still lighter than he was.
My condition prompted me to call the spa lady back to inquire about what had happened to my beautiful bronze glow. She said, “Lauren, when you start out the color of a white laser, you’ll probably need several applications to make it up to the shade of ‘bronze.’ ”
“Considering my skin tones, how many applications do you think are necessary?”
“Maybe forty-six or forty-seven. But we don’t have that much bronzer on hand. We could special-order it, though I doubt I’ll be able to get that much.”
I shouted, “Forget it! I’ll just be the only mom at the pool again this year who wears long pants into the water!” Then I hung up the phone.
Now, because the sun’s rays really aren’t all that good for you, I never allow myself to be out in the sun for the purposes of achieving a “tan” for more than fifteen minutes at a time. And in Colorado, it is typically sunny every day. This means that, given my skin tones if I start the first of May and am outside every sunny day, by October three years from now I’ll maybe be up to what is considered a “light, light beige.”
Does anyone but me sense the futility of it all?
It’s hard to go through life trying to compete with a cadaver.