By Heather O.
On Memorial Day, I spent pretty much the entire afternoon at the pool. My husband was at a conference, so I was flying solo with my kids. Not a big deal, really, but it did mean that I tried to apply sunscreen to my back by myself. I figured I could do it with the spray stuff.
Add to that the fact that I inadvertently bought spf 15 (we are strictly spf 50 kind of people–yes, we glow in the dark), and you can imagine my pain come Monday night.
I didn’t do much on Tuesday, the sunburn on my back was so bad. I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to get dressed, I just wanted to lie on my stomach and moan (which, truth be told, is pretty much what I did most of the morning until Little Sister’s screeches of hunger got me out of bed). Tuesday night I begged my husband to apply Noxema to my back, an old remedy that dates back to my youth. In fact, we used it so exclusively for sunburn that I didn’t know it was used for anything else until well into teenager-hood.
I lay face down on my bed while my husband smeared the white cream all over my back. Again, I was in no mood to move, so I lay there, feeling the coolness of the cream, for quite a while.
“How long are you going to lie there?” DH asked.
“Forever.” I answered. “Why, is it bugging you?”
“Well, you just smell like a teenager with an acne problem.”
“Well, this smell brings back all sorts of memories of my sisters in high school. They would smear this stuff all over their faces.”
“Oh. Right. I forgot Noxema could be used as a cleanser, too.”
So there you have it. A fundamental difference in my childhood and my husband’s. I associate Noxema with excrutiating sunburn, he associates it with popping zits.
But it is true that some of us spend summer smelling like Noxema and sunscreen. Another truth about summer is that given enough time in a chlorinated pool, blonde hair will turn green. And not just kid’s blonde hair. I have photographic evidence of my own green hair, just 4 summers ago when, in an effort to keep my son from drowning on the swim team, I got in the water with him pretty much every day. Add to that a week spent swimming in a commercial pool at a lakeside condo, and voila, green and crunchy hair. When a relative saw me that summer, she said, “Wow. I thought that green hair thing was just a myth.”
And with my green hair and propensity to bad sunburns, it’s hard to say I didn’t look sort of like a Christmas tree. Or a moldy lobster.
This year I’m ahead of the game right from the start. No green hair yet, but my first real sunburn is a doozy. Here it is, Thursday, and my back still feels like I was mauled by a bear. No worries though, because I know that after the pain subsides, I get to deal with the peeling.
Awesome. I often imagine that this is what leprosy must have felt like.
And nothing screams sexy like having your beloved stroke your bare back, only to come back with a fistful of your dead and rotting skin.
So Happy summer everybody, and for the love of Noxema, please, don’t forget your sunscreen.
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