Right around the time I no longer allowed my mother to touch me with her mom hands to lather me up with sunblock is when I started to become plagued with sunburns.
She always made it a point to try and protect us from the sun’s rays but she had this awful habit of applying sunblock with sand still on her fingers. For those who have never experienced skin exfoliation with Coppertone, it basically feels like grout is being applied to your face.
Minutes later, once the sand crystals had permanently fused themselves to my skin, my doting mother would approach with a hot sun-baked beach towel to try and wipe away the granules. This was my cue to flee, because if I wasn’t fast enough, I’d soon know what it felt like to have my face wiped clean with a cheese grater.
You’d think after several decades of blistering sunburns and a bout with Melanoma skin cancer that I’d smother myself in sunblock before setting foot outdoors. But no. Even though the sun hunts me down like I’m a human solar panel, I still forget.
Last weekend’s consequence? My first sunburn of 2012.
It wasn’t a full blown head-to-toe sunburn like most of the others. Instead, the only part of my body that got burnt was the top of my head. Why? Because there’s nothing up there to provide adequate shade.
When I was younger, I had a virtual rat’s nest of hair. In fact, it may have even been a rat’s nest at one point. My hair was thick, curly, and impenetrable when it came to UV rays and combs. As much as I hated it back then, I’d give almost anything to have it back today. For now, thanks to growing old as ungracefully as possible, I have a sparse landscape of retreating strands and scraps that are desperately clinging to life in what’s fast becoming a barren wasteland of extinct follicles.
Gone are the days when I was encouraged to grow it out and donate to the Locks of Love. Today? The only organization that might be willing to accept my remnants is the Frizz for Pubes Initiative. And I’m not even entirely sure this group exists yet.
The worst part about a sunburn like this isn’t the pain. I’ve grown accustomed to it. The worst part is actually the peeling process. When sunburns start to peel and flake on arms and legs, it just looks like you had a bad sunburn. When it happens on a nearly bald noggin, it looks like you’re experiencing a raging case of dandruff or going through some sort of alien metamorphosis.
This morning we had a Pre-School Readiness program to attend so we could see just how many things we were doing to stifle Kamryn’s development and obliterate her collegiate potential. Checking myself in the mirror before leaving, I noticed that I was in the throes of molting.
I brushed my forehead with my hand a few times and watched as a blizzard of dead skin gracefully flittered to the floor. The more I tried to make the flakes go away, the more they multiplied, and the more it looked like a new head was trying to emerge from a cocoon of flaked chapped skin.
In a panic I called Heather back into the house and she calmly told me to just apply some skin lotion to my scalp and forehead. I resisted, thinking it would only result in a moist scaly appearance, but it actually worked. The dry skin and frizzy loners were quickly replaced with a nice sheen and a mini-combover effect.
Stylin’, I climbed into the front seat of the Mazda5 I plan on ripping to pieces in an upcoming non-review review and put the car into reverse. And from the back came the voice of our 4-year old daughter. A girl who clearly lacks both tact and the ability to recognize sarcasm.
Kamryn: “Daddy? It looks like somebody put whipped cream in your hair.”
Me: “Whipped cream?,” turning to Heather, “what the heck is she talking about?”
Heather: “Turn your head….oh, you just didn’t rub it all in.”
Me (after rubbing the cream into my tender baldness): “There. Is that better your highness?”
Kamryn: “It’s gross.”
Me: “Gross? Is it still there?”
Kamryn: “It looks like snow.”
Me (turning to Heather): “Is it bad? Seriously? Are there still a bunch of flakes?”
Heather: “We’re late. Let’s go.”
Me: “Okayyyy, well, that’s a yes. You just want to leave. You don’t care if I look like a scuzz.”
Kamryn: “Why does it look like that?”
Me (as sarcastically as possible): “Tell you what Kamryn. When we get to the library, I’ll just sit farrrrr away from the two of you so you don’t have to be faced with my hideous looks. I’ll shun myself from the group and stay out of sight so NO ONE has to endure the grotesqueness that is me.”
Kamryn (with what sounded like exasperated relief): “THANK you.”
Man. If she wasn’t four years old and hadn’t gone right back to reading her book, I might have chalked it up to a classic zinger. But she wasn’t playing along. She wasn’t just messing around with me. She was seriously thanking me for agreeing to shun myself from society.
Heather lost it and started doing the chipmunk wheeze she does when laughing uncontrollably. If you ever hear this sound, know that you didn’t step on an asthmatic mouse. Heather just thought something was funny. And in this case, Kamryn’s nonchalant reply had brought her to tears.
As for me, I eventually sat in the last row as promised and did all I could to avoid scalp-to-eye contact with the other attendees. But in the end, Kamryn made it all better when she climbed up into my lap, nestled her head in the crook of my arm, and whispered, “You’re not gross anymore, Daddy.”
Somebody call Hallmark.