It’s that time of year again, when families with an average of 1.86 children* and access to some type of motorized vehicle migrate south for a week of fun in the sun, or rather, hopefully not killing each other while suffocating under three layers of UVB protective clothing.
I can’t help but get a little nostalgic as I pack a dozen bottles of hand sanitizer, ear buds, and my candy cane shiv for the flight to Florida. Things were much simpler when I was a kid, and quite frankly, more tan.
Despite repeated warnings from the Surgeon General and my preternaturally aged hands, I love the sun. In my book? Tan is good, and every single white-bellied resident of Cleveland playing cornhole on the beach this spring proves my point (by the way, if you happen to be a Facebook Robber and are casing my house, good luck getting through the copious piles of laundry, Halloween candy wrappers, and discarded LIVESTRONG wristbands blocking all points of entry).
When I was young, we didn’t have enough money to fly the friendly skies, so we drove to Florida for spring break in The Grey Ghost, our family’s unaffectionate nickname for my dad’s sometimes air-conditioned, often not, Thunderbird. With a piece of masking tape cutting the back seat in half and delineating sides that dare not be crossed for fear of losing a limb, my brother and I played the license plate game to pass time, which pretty much sucked after about fifteen minutes because every single car headed south was from Ohio.
Things changed once we crossed the Georgia-Florida border, though. With empty bags of pork rinds at our feet and the wind in our hair, we knew we’d arrived at a mystical place filled with lightning bugs, fudgesicles, and an unusually large amount of seedy lounges advertising Elvis impersonators.
We all piled into one room at a value-brand version of a Holidome, and Mom doled out the quarters she’d saved all year long so we could have whatever we wanted from the vending machines. Eating Taco flavored Doritos in bed while watching Saturday Night Live was nothing short of awesome, and as soon as I could see sunlight filtering through the curtains the next morning, I was out the door with my tube of Bain de Soleil, a Teen Beat magazine, and a dream.
This was my dream when I was a kid. In many ways, it still is.
Back then, a tan meant you were going somewhere in life, like the mall, to get an Orange Julius and some sweet new parachute pants. Now, being tan can still take you places, but it’s pretty much limited to your dermatologist’s office, usually for some minor outpatient surgery to get a spot of precancerous basal cell carcinoma removed from your nasal septum.
Today, my family boards a plane to go on vacation, which is great, except for the aforementioned need to carry a concealed weapon that looks like a piece of half-eaten Christmas candy. And the ear buds that plug into something that, while providing entertainment, makes us more co-travelers than anything else. And the lines.
Hence the nostalgia.
But the only thing you can count on in life is change, so like every other pasty mother I know, I’ve packed the SPF 300 and a little something just for me that’s stashed away in the recesses of my luggage. No. It isn’t a baggie filled with the medicinal marijuana you can now buy on every street corner in Colorado to enjoy with your Caramel Macchiato before a great day at the beach.
It’s a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic Diamond Strength Dark Tan Accelerator.
Old habits die hard, and if youth is wasted on the young, I’m pre-qualified to appreciate every fine line coming my way.
*According to the 2000 Census, the average number of children in families was 1.86. Apparently, a child isn’t considered whole until it threatens to run away unless you lift the ban on smart phones after 9:00 p.m.
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