I’m writing this to you from my deathbed, which coincidentally is also my actual bed. My eyes, once sparkling with life and laughter, have now dulled with fatigue. My demeanor, once lively and energetic, is now sloth-like. My skin, which mere days ago was a healthy bronze (off-white) hue, is now the exact color and temperature of a freshly cooked Maine lobster. This sunburn is my life now, and I have no one to blame but myself.
I thought I could play volleyball on the beach for six hours in the 90-degree heat and my skin could handle it. “I’m half Italian,” I thought. “I’ve never needed sunscreen before,” I proclaimed proudly to my girlfriend as she tried to make me put some on. She laughed as she told me I would regret not wearing any. Alas, she was right (as usual). I had overlooked a key lifestyle change I had undergone in the last year, my move from sunny California to this winter wasteland known as Chicago.
Of course, I never needed sunscreen before when my skin was perpetually tanned by the near constant 75-degree weather of the Bay Area. However, after the six months of winter I just endured, my skin had faded from its once alluring mocha tone to a color Valspar Paint labels as “Quail Egg White.” This lack of realization was my downfall. I thought nothing of gallivanting around the beach shirtless, swimming in the lake, and then attending a rooftop party, all under the blazing midwestern sun. I watched as others dutifully reapplied sunscreen every two hours and laughed as I thought of how much tanner I would be than them.
Sadly, that laughter now haunts me every night while I lie awake, tossing and turning on my sandpaper sheets. When I purchased them I was sure they were made of 400-thread count cotton, and yet when I lie on them now, I realize they were hewn from the bark of a redwood tree blended with actual sharkskin. It has been so long since I’ve slept. The sun has scorched every square inch of my torso, and there is no sleeping position that I can maintain for more than fifteen minutes. I somehow even burned the bottom of my feet, an accomplishment I would be proud of if it wasn’t so goddamn painful.
“Just put some Aloe Vera on it,” I can hear you saying as you mock me and my weak skin. I’ve put more Aloe on my skin in the last few days than most Cancun resorts have sold in a lifetime. My aforementioned sharkskin sheets are now green and yet I continue to apply that cooling gel to my skin as if it is a topical heroin and I am a Skid Row junkie. Speaking of stickiness, I feel the need to apologize to my roommate for my aroma. You see, when even the air hurts your skin, your desire to take a shower plummets to zero.
To be fair, I did attempt to shower the sand off myself when I got back from the beach but immediately bailed on that plan when the first drop of lukewarm water touched my back. I also have accepted that even if I do somehow (perhaps with the help of Vicodin) manage to take a shower, I will immediately lather myself with Aloe upon getting out, and be just as sticky and gross as I am now.
I think back fondly on the life I had before this sunburn and realize I took many things for granted. I miss the days I could simply walk down the street to get my food instead of paying delivery fees to avoid the cruel heat of Chicago in June. I think wistfully of the days when I could open my windows and let the breeze flow through my house like a cleansing river, instead of the roaring inferno it now feels like. Even the simplest things, like wearing shirts and being able to use the stove in my kitchen are now distant memories, fading into the past.
There are many factors and decisions that lead to the lifestyle I am now forced to live, but I know I cannot truly blame any of them. Yes, I should not have drank nine loaded Coronas and taken a 45-minute nap face down on the sand, but I cannot blame my bartender.
Should my girlfriend have realized she’s dating an idiot and used my nap to sneakily apply sunscreen to my body? Yes, but I have forgiven her for her transgression. I know I should have worn a real shirt, and not a deep cutoff that exposed my shoulders to the sun even when I was clothed, but I can’t blame the way I was raised for that decision. No, the only true cause of my ailment is the sun.
Mankind was not meant to live in these harsh conditions, toiling under a blazing ball of fire and gas (not sure what the sun is made of). We are a fragile species, with no fur to protect us from the fiery heat constantly beating down on us (because I shaved my back hair). The truth is clear; the sun is our enemy. We praise his warm embrace, and long for him to caress our bodies while we suffer through the winter. But this is all a sham.
The sun is nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing, tricking us into lying out beneath its rays while it torches us with a relentless fury. I am here to say no more. No more will you catch me napping on a pool chair, hoping to get tan. No longer will I drink on patios or rooftops, telling anyone who will listen how much I love summer. My burnt and broken body is done with the sun. I will remain indoors until November, like a vampire who’s signature pale complexion is bright red, because I fully believe this sunburn will last until then. You’ve tricked me one too many times, sun, but I’m finally done with your games.