Generally speaking, my complexion being somewhere between the spectrum of Julianne Moore and albinoism, I am not a tanner.
When the good weather hits, I live outside, but I do it under a generous slathering of SPF 45, at least. Despite precautions, I get burned a few times a year, and I'm not talking reddened skin and peeling here. Me, I know burns. I know burns from splashing big pots of boiling pasta on myself, and from grabbing roasting pans without oven mitts and from making friends with the wrong end of a curling iron and from turning on the wrong burner and from trying to catch candles that are on fire. The sun is still trumps. Of course the skin will turn an impossible shade of red, a shade so shocking and magnificent that even Crayola would have a hard time coming up with an appropriate name. Then, overnight, it develops this slimy yellow coating. Some of this puckers into crusty, crinkled skin, and other patches become giant blisters oozing with puss and other fun things. Then you spend the next 6-10 days crying every time you move or breathe or think of moving or think of breathing. And don't even talk to me about bra straps digging into sunburned blisters, or the way water feels like needles with you turn the shower on (I have to shower with wet towels on my shoulders just to dull the pain a bit). It's ridiculous, but for a pale girl, it's life.
And this year I got started on the process early - before summer has even officially arrived. Only mid-May and already I burned, peeled, and found underneath the makings of an actual tan (a rarity for me). But the problem is, I was wearing a scoop-neck t-shirt at the time and now I've got 2 brown arms and an oval of brown on my chest, and a whole lot of blinding whiteness in between.
And as you may know, no matter how many cute camis or tank tops or spaghetti-strapped shirts I wear this summer, IT WILL NEVER EVEN OUT! The white can never catch up because the brown just keeps getting browner. I will be two-toned for the next 4 months! Pretty soon people will be asking me about my crops, how the beets are looking and if the corn's as high as an elephant's eye. I'll be so farmer-like I'll have to start wearing overalls and adopt 37 barn cats. It's going to be a bad summer, I can just tell.
Do you know what a dickie is? A dickie is this ridiculous thing that should have died in the 80s and mostly did, if you don't count my mother's wardrobe. A dickie is just the turtle part of a turtle neck sweater. It's just the part that covers your neck, and a small circle of fabric at the base so you can wear it under a sweater and fool people into thinking you're wearing 2 shirts when really you're wearing only one! Oh, they're horrible things. But I'm thinking that if I wear one, and then tear the sleeves of a sweater and wear them (I guess I'd need some rubber bands to make sure they didn't slide down), I could protect the brown parts and let the white parts (shoulders, lower chest) play catch up.
However, this would neither be a flattering nor a very respectable get-up (notice how nothing would be covering the breasts). So I suppose I could also sport a tube top for modesty's sake (I bet you never heard the words 'tube top' and 'modesty' in the same sentence before!) but this is quickly becoming a fashion revival that I want nothing to do with.
I thought briefly about wearing SPF 50 on the brown parts and 25 on the white parts, but I figure, I've spent almost my whole life buying into this skin cancer thing, why stop now? I mean, every time that I visit my grandmother and she points out all her various "possible melanomas", I make a very firm resolution to be kind to my skin, and to also stop visiting my grandmother. And I've made good on at least one of those promises (and every time my grandmother points to my arm and yells MELANOMA!, and I tell her No, Nanny, that's just a freckle, or a birth mark, or my eye, stop poking me in the eye, Nanny!, my resolve for the second bit gets just a wee bit stronger).
So what's a girl to do? I have this lovely sundress hanging in my closet, dying to be worn, but I know if I slip it on now, it'll look like I'm wearing a white undershirt underneath from far away, and from up close the effect of my two-toned skin is likely to cause traffic accidents and canine insanity and the accelerated melting of ice cream. Not to mention that I will only be giving the sun the chance to burn yet another unsavoury pattern into my flesh - this time with a sweetheart neckline and skinny little shoulder straps, and then I'll have tri-toned skin which we all know is the leading cause of satellites falling out of orbit and childhood obesity and male pattern baldness. And it only gets worse from there!
There's got to be some other way.
Maybe I'll take some high-grade sandpaper into the shower and "exfoliate" until most of my skin falls off. Of course, that would probably clog the pipes and plumbers can be very judgmental.
When I was in high school we had a car was to raise money, and I was wearing a tankini and got a funny burn with prom (and a strapless dress) just days away. My mother suggested I seek the tanning bed and I came out looking like a ketchup chip. I didn't tan, I just burned in a way that my entire body was covered in pinpricks of red, like an allergic reaction (which it probably was). So I've learned my lesson there: sunburns are not a hip accessory, but if you wear your strapless dress without a bra, no one really notices the burn.
Maybe there's nothing left to do but buy stock in aloe vera and call it a day.