So I made a quick trip to Florida to see if there was such thing as 70 degree weather. I arrived with skin the color of Rockaway grass. Somewhere between white and ash white. I broke out the shorts for the first time since I can’t remember and all was good – until I went outside. Something about seeing your legs inside is different than going out in public and showing off your chalky sticks with the sudden appearance of a new varicose vein. I hopped on a bike for a quick ride. Flecks of dead skin on my legs popped to the surface like a dandruff commercial. It wasn’t pretty.
I wanted an instant tan (man, I should’ve stopped in Howard Beach on the way to Kennedy). I caught a couple of guys in their nineties pointing at me and snickering. Old bastards. I was here for a weekend. I didn’t have time to put on 45 sunscreen. They just shook their heads, fully protected with polyester pants and golf caps. One guy had a scarf. I think I heard one of them call me a powdered donut.
As I pedaled past the palm trees, I felt the eyes of Florida upon me. Though in most cases, the eyes were behind these enormous sunglasses that looked more like the scanning machine you step into at the airport than something you cover your eyes with. If they weren’t wearing the big shades they were wearing eyeglasses that were a combination of George Burns and Velma from Scooby Doo. These poor people. With their Hubble telescope glasses they were getting a close look at me as I passed on my bike looking like a rolling gallon of skim milk. I know I heard some old lady say, “What a fool.”
I was tempted to launch one back— hey, lady shouldn’t you be in bed by now? (It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon) but I knew she was right. Later that evening I had to act like I had botox injections in my forehead. Or stare straight ahead like your central casting zombie. If I smiled or made any facial expression at all the sunburn pain reminded me what an idiot I’d been to rush out and get “color.” And it didn’t help to be called George Hamilton and John Boehner by my so-called good friends.
Ah, but several pina collisions later, all was good. The burn soon turned bronze. Some ladies pushing the century mark lowered their glasses to look me over with lust. I said to my beautiful wife she better stay close, these women here might attack me. Ha, she said, you wish.
Before I could fully adapt to the Florida way and develop proper shuffle board skills I was heading back to the white grasses of Rockaway. I couldn’t wait to walk among the ghosts, me in my tan – I’d be the envy of all.
As I bent to pick up my suitcase, I felt a little something in my lip. No, no, no. Nooooo. A sun blister. (Really it’s a sun blister. It’s not a canker). By the second day back in Rockaway my tan was giving way to a snake like peel. My lip blisters multiplied. I went to Florida looking like a box of baking soda and came home looking like bacon.
And people can’t help themselves. They have to stare at your lips when you’ve got some ugly something or other on them. And I can’t tell you how many times people have said, you didn’t put anything on? I know, I know…
But you know what, this time, I think the blisters are a good thing. I need a reminder that a warm sun is shining somewhere.