Remember how much fun we used to have? Well, it was all bad for us. I think we’ve all figured that out by now, right? Riding bikes without helmets? Bad. (That part where you put your feet up and rode downhill with no hands was probably even worse.) Playgrounds with concrete, metal bars and stainless steel slides that were approximately 1000 degrees by mid summer? Bad. Sunshine? Bad.

We knew it wasn’t completely smart at the time we were doing it. They were telling us to use sun block. However, like all good teenagers, the more they told us to do something, the more we ran in the opposite direction. “Good grief! If I use sun block, how am I going to roast my skin to a nice crispy tan? Pass the oil. And the foil. Lemon juice for my hair? I believe I will, thank you.”

By the time I was a teen, I was obsessed with tanning. When I say obsessed I mean desperate. And obsessed. I have laid out on blankets, beaches, lawn chairs, car hoods, picnic tables, porches, backyards, trampolines, roof tops, rafts, driveways, canoes, sailboats, diving boards, logs, motor homes and decks. Not to mention tanning beds. Eventually, after years and years and thousands of hours spent basting in baby oil and iodine, I managed to get “some color.” Finally! I was elated. Hello, tan lines! Hello, honey toned skin! Where’ve you been all my life?

Flash forward to adulthood. It took me YEARS to back off the tan time. I have finally come to accept my pallor (to some extent.) I give myself little pep talks about how I may be colorless, but at least I won’t look like a “saddle bag with eyes” one day. This makes me feel better for about two seconds, then I schedule a spray tan session.

Last week, despite my better judgment, I was looking in the mirror and noticed a spot on my chest. It’s right where I can’t look at it directly because it’s too high, so I have to lean into the mirror and study it. It’s misshapen and a little raised. Sure, it’s probably nothing at all. I have an appointment tomorrow to find out. My parents and friend’s parents have been going through this for years – getting little chunks of themselves removed thanks to a little too much time in the sun. It just might be my turn now.

 If I could have foreseen this as a teenager, thought it possible to get bad news from the dermatologist – other than “you have incurable acne,” would I have changed my behavior?

 Pass the oil. And the foil.

 What can I say? I’m obviously an idiot.


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