Monday, March 10, 2008

Saved By The Banana Boat

I've been sitting on this blog idea for a few months. Now that the winter is starting to slowly....ever so slowly...recede, I thought it high time I share with the world these random thoughts.

A few years ago I had the unfortunate experience of going swimming in Mixed Company. If you have never had to do this, let me explain.

Mixed Company for me would include any of the following:

1. Non-family members (family members have to love you no matter what, and if they make fun of you for still holding your nose when you go under water you can remind them of the time they ate an entire cherry pie in one sitting)

2. Kelly Rippa type women

3. Matthew McConaughey type men

4. Those who can afford electrolysis and no longer have to worry about the sunlight hitting their face 'just so' (not that I worry)

5. Those who like to play water volleyball or chicken. Pools are for reading beside and dipping in. If you want to work out, go to the gym. Also, I suck at sports and therefore always lose, and inevitably some part of my bathing suit sets itself free from my non-Ripa self. Unfortunately for me, my husband's family are of this variety. Under the rule of family members, I have to love them anyways.

I'm a good ol' American who likes the 4th of July poolside barbecue as much as the next person. So when it rolls around, I don my bathing suit that makes me look hip enough to be seen in public, and make a frantic dash to Target for whatever cover ups are still available. I don't understand why Target is beginning to set out their winter attire in July, but I'm no trendsetter.

A bag full of swimmy diapers, inflatable arm pillows, SPF 78, and a book that I won't end up reading complete the summertime tote. These items are not all for me. Just to clarify.

Off to the Mixed Company Pool Experience. No big deal, truly. I look forward to/hate it as much as the next woman. But I'm used to it.

I was enjoying myself, trying not to pass out from sucking in when I noticed a friend of mine applying a vat 'o lard to her already very tan flesh.

I am fair, have always been fair, and will always be fair even when I have a tan. I realize that other people have different skin colors that allow them to stay outside in the sun for longer than I. However, having read tons of information about the effects that motor oil/baby oil/your own spit mixed with antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice have on your skin, I knew enough to be horrified. She was rubbing on REAL LARD!

Therefore, it was with an informed and caring perspective that I offered my horror at her probably uneducated application of Crisco to her already very brown self.

Instead of thanks or gratitude or even an 'I don't care because I'll always be tan and smooth and beautiful and I'll never grow into an old wrinkly leather-like prune of a woman' she gave me this little nugget of happiness:

"Well, I wouldn't want to look like you, Tiffany. I'm blinded by your skin! I can almost see through you!"

I was caught so very off guard that I let my belly flub hang out and form udders over the top of my bikini bottoms.

I probably said something stupid in return. You know when you are so stunned and hurt that you say anything to keep from crying or hitting or looking like a pathetic loser? Yes, just like in the 2nd grade.

I quietly fumed about it, and then not-so-quietly berated her to my husband, who had the good sense to not only listen but chime in with comments about how she would get skin cancer and he likes pale-skinned girls anyways.

But still, I was upset and there was nothing to be done.

I have already owned that I am indeed a very fair (colored) person. I'm Scots-Irish, so....chances are.....I'm pale.

I went to the beach and burned every year of my young life. Nobody ever really said anything about it. Skin in sun for a long time = burn.

I knew I was lighter-skinned than even most Caucasians. I found this out when I went to Origins for some new foundation and they had to go hunting in their backroom for a dusty bottle of what looked like White-Out. They were amazed that their 'normal' light colors were too yellow or brown for me. The girl helping me had all her co-workers come over to see the freak show of a girl sitting on the makeover stool. 'No, Origins lady. I'm not related to Powder.'

Still, what did I care? It's not as if I could really do anything about it. I did attempt a few tries at tanning before my wedding. I (gasp) laid my paper-white self out by the pool and drenched myself in SPF 4 tanning oil.

I was tan for the wedding, but unfortunately my triangle top tanline can be seen in my wedding pictures. Very classy.

Shortly after the wedding I had a mole removed from the back of my shoulder. The doctor said it looked 'angry'. It probably didn't like the taste of Banana Boat. They sent Angry Mole off to a lab (ew, ew, ew for the person who has to unpack a mole-containing envelope) and it tested benign.

Thus ended my career as a Hawaiian Tropics towel girl.

I've been mostly at peace with my skin color, with a brief respite in the teen years when I was only at peace with the color black and vegan fare.

So after this Poolside Self-Esteem Massacre, I felt wholly bewildered. I felt like those 800 pound girls who go on 'So You Think You Can Dance' and pour their heart into an interpretive dance inspired by their high school crush on Zach Morris, only to find out that their friends and family knew all along that they, in fact, Can't Dance.

Was everyone making fun of me behind my back? Did I elicit stares and cause the other parents at the Doodlebops Live show to make up 'You're So White' jokes?

I thought endearingly of a time that I've never lived in. Just a short century or three ago, I would have been en vogue. You've seen the paintings. White creamy fluffy girls were SO hot. At least, that's what I've read. I don't know why they all wanted to sit around eating grapes, especially while naked, but still. HOT.

But then I remember that these Hot Girls had to wear skirts every day and were not able to tell a man to bloody well stuff it. So even though I would have enjoyed being the Hot Girl, I'd rather retain my freedom to fight. I mean, vote.

Poor pale Tiffy. How did I work myself out of my glow-in-the-dark doom?

I shook it off. Because just like in the 2nd grade, I realized that I am who I am and even if all the boys like her because she has triple-roll tie-dyed socks and crimped hair, I can be happy with who I am.

Yes, that is slightly cheesy. You would almost expect Kelly Kapowski to say it while Lisa Turtle and Jesse Spanno put their arms around each other.

Anybody feel like a dance?

No comments: