Wear Sunscreen

In honor of the first sun burn of the year that I obtained on Saturday…

My skin is terrible. I will get a sun burn at the least likely of times and the most obvious times, I know this. However, even at thirty, I can’t remember to put sunscreen on myself and prevent the inevitable pain. Instead, I go golfing on a Saturday in May and since it is a little chilly out I assume that I will be okay without applying sunscreen.

I have no excuse. Sunscreen companies have made it beyond easy with the spray on application. I just never seem to learn. Even when I make a concerted effort to apply as instructed I get burned (that, ladies & gents, is a pun).

July 4th, 2000-something.

It could not have been a more perfect day. As I woke up, I had two goals –

1. Drink enough to forget the day ever happened.

2. Do not get sunburned.

Lucky enough to have generous friends allow us to have fun at their home on Gull Lake in Nisswa, MN. Everything was falling in place for an amazing holiday.

Armed with two spray cans of SPF 30 and a case of Bud Light, ready to achieve my daily goals, I made my way to the dock (where I would spend the next 8 hours).

As I opened my first beer, I applied the first coat of protection.

Normally, the road block that I cannot avoid is achieving a heightened level of inebriation that causes me to forget to apply the second, third, fourth (and so on) coat.

Not today my friends.

On this day I would not be stopped. I found a comfortable spot on the bench built on the dock. I had easy access to the cooler and promptly applied the second coat as I cracked open Bud Light number four.

As fate would have it, on this very day my parents happened to be touring the lake in a boat with some of their friends and were nice enough to swing by the dock and say hello. The conversations were brief, but it was great to see them none the less.

As their boat pulled away my mother shouted, “Timmaaayyy, don’t forget sunscreen!”

It’s amazing that even in my mid to late twenties she could still find a way to give my friends material with which to make fun of me.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As the rest of the day was filled with my friend’s exaggerated impressions of my mother’s screamed advice.

Advantage Timmy.

Open beer eight, apply third coat. Open beer 12, apply fourth coat… you get the idea. My goals were being achieved and it was glorious.

As the sun began it’s slow, defeated descent to the horizon, I began my standard self assessment of sun burn. Nose – looking good. Arms – is that a tan? Legs – milky white as the driven snow. Neck – good.

Even my ears aren’t burned.

This certainly meant that I would reward my outstanding performance with numerous beers next to the evening camp fire.

As I changed into jeans, sweatshirt and shoes, I couldn’t help but be proud of myself.

That was easy. I’ll never get sunburned again.

I walked up to the fire, beer in hand, and joined my friends.

Suddenly, it felt as though my feet were on fire.

I am wearing shoes, why are my feet so hot?

I am a reasonable distance from the fire. And, after a quick concentrated assessment, they are not on fire…

Then it hit me. The tidal wave of anxiety crashed into my chest (you know the feeling you get when you have forgotten to do something very important? Yeah, that).

Mentally I was tracing through all of the sunscreen applications through out the day as my mom’s voice echoed in my head, “Timmaaayyy, don’t forget sunscreen!

I forgot about the tops of my feet.

I had been sitting on the dock all day with the my bare feet exposed to the sun like the uncooked side of a pancake. To this point in their existence, my feet had been exposed to maybe a total of 12 hours of direct sun light. This day, I gave them an uninterrupted 8 hours of bright, unmerciful July sunlight.

If you have been sunburned before, you are familiar with this stage. Your skin is warm and a tad uncomfortable but not painful, yet. But you know the pain is coming.

Well, I could see the pain coming at me like a locomotive without brakes and I was tied to the tracks.

I have one option.

Drink beer. Lots of beer. Natures pain-killer (kind of). I dumped beer after beer down my gullet until I forgot about my feet, the sunburn and where I was.


This is going to be bad.

I was staring at the ceiling, my throbbing feet felt radio-active as I did my best not to move them.

I had to see the damage. Slowly, I pulled my feet out from under the sheets that felt like they were made out of sand paper and thorns.

I thought I was going to cry. It looked like someone had held hot frying pans to the tops of both my feet. Next, I set both of them on the floor, the blood began to rush and pulsate so that it seemed that my feet were going to explode.

When I am sun burned, what I hate more than anything is when people comment on how bad my sun burn is. Do you think that I don’t feel it? Are you trying to be a jerk? Are you a sadist that wants to remind me of the constant pain that I am in? Or, are you just making small talk?

That being said, I had a new goal for the day –

1. Put socks on.

Two options: slow and steady, or, quick like a band-aid. Because I am an adventurous chap, I tried each. And, I’ll tell ya, neither were very pleasant.

Once I made it home to Maple Grove, I began applying all forms of aloe vera and solarcaine. The next morning I woke to noticeably swollen feet. They looked like a cartoon character’s feet that had been smashed with a giant mallet.

As I was getting ready for work, I was forced to lube my feet with aloe and solarcaine to put my socks on. Then jam my fat, swollen feet into loafers.

Every step felt like razor blades on the top of my feet.

Over the next couple of days the pain began to subside and slowly, my feet began to heal and peel until soon the burn was just a distant, agonizing memory.

You would think that I learned my lesson, right? Nope. I continue to get burned because I am either absent-minded, unprepared or drunk (usually a combination of all three). I am getting better and I know that I need to get much better for my own health and I really do try to remember… but dammit no one else ever seems to be putting on sunscreen. What’s the deal with you people? You never have it when I forget it. You are never putting it on when I could use a reminder about putting some on. Then, you all sit around and complain that you need a tan. Boo-fucking-hoo.

Moral of the story: if you see me and I am sun burned, you don’t need to tell me. I can feel it. With every subtle movement, ray of sunshine, or light brush against even the softest of fabrics… I can feel it.

And, you can bet that everyone that I work with has already chuckled and said, “someone got some sun this weekend!”