“Why didn’t you tell me you were famous?” my son asked after seeing a cooked lobster on TV.
It’s an annual rite of passage that each trip to the beach ends in front of the same mirror, inspecting the same damage from the most recent conflagration. Sometimes it’s on my face, or back, but often, it’s my shoulders and neck that bear the brunt of my lack of attention to detail.
Applying sunscreen at the start of a beach day isn’t the issue. It never has been. For me, it’s the inability to remember to reapply. I get hypnotized by the sound of the ocean waves hitting the sand; the seagulls fluttering overhead; the smell of french fries emanating from the boardwalk behind me. Before you know it, I’m cooked.
“You are an interesting man,” said my wife as I inspected my hot spots in front of the hallway mirror.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You can remember meaningless sports statistics and the actual name of every original ‘Star Trek’ episode,” she said, “but you can’t remember to reapply sunscreen.”
It’s a good point. Doug Williams threw for 322 yards in Super Bowl XXII, most of them in an explosive second quarter, and the episode with the reptilian bad guy was called “Arena.” Those are vitally important things to remember, however. You never know when me and my wild friends might engage in a spontaneous and rousing game of trivia. Being ready is imperative.
My wife even reminds me to reapply sunscreen when she reapplies it to our children. Inevitably I become distracted by something else, something far more important, like whether those gigantic ships way off in the distance are Russian spy ships or North Korean spy ships. Sure, they may look like giant fishing boats, but spy ships are designed to appear unassuming. Attack divers are probably coming ashore at this very moment.
Before you know it, the reapplication of sunscreen is forgotten and I’m left to toast. Thanks, Russian or North Korean spy ships/fishing boats. Thanks a lot.
The heinous thing about the sun, the thing that makes it such a jerk, is that by the time you realize you have a problem, it’s too late to do anything about it. I suppose a lobster in boiling water suddenly realizes the predicament he is in when it’s too late to change his fate. So it is for me, the stinging realization when I continually make the same mistake, over and over again.
The other day, I was relaxing on a beach, sitting comfortably under the umbrella, extremely proud of myself for taking shady precautions. As I was doing this, a scantily clad woman walked past me. Holding hands with this women was a man, her husband, I assumed, who had toenails that looked like talons. This disturbed me and I began creating a vivid backstory about their courageous, yet ultimately futile life together.
As I was deep in the development of this tragic tale of taloned heartbreak, the sun had sneaked beyond the reach of the umbrella, leaving my neck and shoulders exposed. The creative fires of my imagination weren’t the only thing burning that day.
My wife just shook her head when she realized the extent of my sunburn. She clearly thinks it was my fault.
“It’s not my fault,” I pleaded with my wife. “Not this time.”
“Uh huh,” she replied.
“It was the talon toenails!”
It had to be the talon toenails.