Go ahead, take a sniff. You’ll feel better. I promise – I do.
I screw open the top, take a whiff and no matter what time of year, it’s summer and I am at a hot spring resort somewhere in northwestern British Columbia, Canada swimming in a pool that becomes a Coppertone oil slick. Why we need suntan lotion in the wettest climate north of the Amazon rainforest, I don’t know.
It’s the promise inside the bottle, the colour of desire, the colour I want to be but can never attain – a sizzling brown, gleaming like a piece of jewelry in the sun, so dazzling people have to turn away. It’s the promise of tan lines and naughty white flesh beneath my bikini, innocence fenced by the hussy of my tanned hide, flaunting itself in the rays of the brazen sun. Welcome, shameless gaze!
Instead I get sunburned flaky skin, freckled and hot, forever pallid. No matter how often I peek beneath the straps, the colour differences are the colours of the Canadian flag – red and white. The bottle slumps in despair at the impossible task being asked of it. It is whispering to the molecules inside: “Why she bothers is beyond me. Oh well, here comes the squeeze. Brace yourself. We’re gonna do our best to make this kid look like a California dime. With any luck she’ll blend in with all the other bodies draped over their towels, twisting their necks backwards to see what colour their legs are turning.”
It’s beach play with shovels and pails, sandcastles and leaky moats, pebbled garrisons, driftwood damsels with seaweed hair. Sand dimpled skin, crusted with salt, bathing at the end of the day and watching my castle swirl down the drain. Tomorrow, I will build another castle even bigger and better and tell a new stick-people story.
Better than white wine spritzers, it’s a spirit lifter with no calories, at least not if used as directed. Maybe it does have calories if you drink it, but I’m not suggesting you drizzle Coppertone on your Mai Tai, just replace your body lotion with it. Slather it all over your summer starved limbs and cod-belly-white torso, lovingly rub sunshine into your day. Transport yourself to the beach with a good book that doesn’t get read, that sits on your chest as you watch the waves tumble up the sand, bubbling possibilities reaching for your toes …. whoa, is that Bradley Cooper walking towards you?
It’s Innocence. It’s Carefree. It’s “I’m too young to get cancer. What’s cancer? The sun gives you cancer? But I’m too young.” Before wrinkles, before caring, before knowledge, before the first time you glance in the mirror and see freckles that aren’t. Before the scolding dermatologist. Before SPF 3000.