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Spray Tanning – another version of middle school

July 24, 2010

Let it be known that I don’t tan.  No matter how many hours I spend at the beach or run outside, my skin knows two shades – pasty white, or lobster red.  I have become partial to the pasty white because sometimes pale can be misconstrued as “stylish,” but alas, I will never be glowing bronze.  I have come to accept that the color of my skin will inevitably match the color of my white wedding dress.  I will be a monochromatic bride.  Ahh, c’est la vie.

My roommate, however, refused to accept my fate and talked me into getting a spray tan.  She is no stranger to the process, and highly recommends it to losers like me who cannot attain their own natural glow.  After asking dozens of questions and watching my roommate give several detailed tutorials, I decided to go do a “trial” run at the local tanning salon.  I needed to make sure I could accurately apply barrier cream, hold my nose in the booth properly, and give myself a “non-streaky” rub down afterwards.

Let me point out, ladies, that a tanning salon is like stepping back into middle school all over again.  You are not allowed to wear makeup.  Your hair must be pulled back all the way.  You need to be freshly showered, shaved, and exfoliated; aka, all the good ‘ol middle school flaws are showing through.  The protective shields are down, so as I was driving to the tanning salon I was increasingly grateful for the fact that I have tinted windows in my car.  All I needed to complete this picture was the head gear I wore in 7th grade, and I would have been the same pimply faced, gangly teenager of years past.

I walk into the tanning salon, already feeling unbelievably self-conscious, when I am greeted by a perfectly tan man at the counter, showing his perfectly rounded biceps under his perfectly tight polo shirt.  Super.  Just super.  He asks me if I’ve been there before.  Isn’t it obvious that I have not?  I tell him no.  “Great,” he says, “you get half off for coming in as a first time customer!”  This is excellent, I think to myself, hoping that perhaps this experience will perk up.  “The low price,” he says, “is incentive to get you to come back”…wink.  Wink?!  He winked at me?  What was the wink for?  Because I’m pale?  Because I look like I’m 13 again?  Because God is just so cruel that the stereotypically good looking man behind the counter is yet again proving his superiority over insecure girls like me?  Why the wink?

I fill out the form.  Perfect Man takes me back to the booth where I will be sprayed into perfection.  He goes through the steps with me – the cream, the hairnet, the button I have to push, the rub down at the end.  He says if I forget any of these steps to just read the chart on the door.  Okay, I say, I can do this.  I stare at the blue booth, with the chrome spray heads that will launch me into my new life as a tan woman.  Perfect Man leaves, and I lock the door, as instructed.  The instruction to lock the door is perplexing.  It’s good for privacy, but dear God, what if something happens to me while I’m in there? It dawns on me that I could die in this little booth and because I locked the door they wouldn’t be able to get me.  They would think I was just getting tanned over and over again, but once they finally realized I was in trouble and broke the door down I would be lying there, lifeless and looking latina.  Should I go through with this?

Suck it up, I tell myself, this is for your wedding.  This is so my soon-to-be husband doesn’t need reflective eyewear to watch me coming down the aisle.  I step into the booth and press the green button.  I squint, turn my fingertips in, and it starts – oh crap, wait, I’m not supposed to squint or I’ll get streaks.  I try to relax my face, but have already forgotten to take my breath when I was supposed to.  Crap.  It sprays up and down and the little chamber fills with chemical fumes.  Will I die here?  Will they find me on the floor like I imagined?  I need to take a breath.  The sprayers stop.  Crap, turn quickly, turn quickly!  I get my hands in position (palms in front of belly so not to look “unnatural”), and wait.  It starts again, and I have forgotten to take my breath.  Seriously?  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been grateful for doing swim team as a kid, and this is one of them.  I have been trained for survival in this booth.  Finally, it stops.  The tanning smog is so thick I can barely find the door handle, but I step out of my little den of iniquity.  I throw my hair net away, pull in an upwards direction with a towel to avoid being streaky, pat my face, and get dressed.  Perfect Man waves at me as I leave and when I step outside for the first time, I realize I am tan!  I am bronze, and natural looking, and my legs look fabulous!  My journey was a success, a complete and utter success.  I put my windows down and sing loudly to the radio on my drive home, no longer feeling self conscious without my makeup or curling iron or lash brush.  I will be a tan bride.

When I get home I stand in front of my full length mirror to admire myself.  Lovely, I think, just lovely.  I turn around to admire the back of my legs.  On my left leg there is a long, 1″ wide, bright white strip running from my ankle all the way up to the bend of my knee.  It is as if a ruler was placed on the back of my calf.  A long white strip.  Up my entire leg.  And middle school begins all over again…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenna permalink
    July 26, 2010 7:35 pm

    you are brilliant! so funny. 🙂

  2. Courtney permalink
    August 11, 2010 10:17 pm

    that night was HI-larious! glad I could pull you over to the ‘dark’ side ha ha! But the best is that it looked fabulous on your wedding day 🙂

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