Monday, March 09, 2009

Yes, I am Irish.

Every spring when the weather starts to warm up and I put on shorts I am shocked by my very white legs. Now, they are not just a little pale. They are so white they actually have a glare and people around me require sunglasses.

Years ago when I had more money than sense I would go to a tanning salon. I would start out at a slow, low level and lay there for just a few minutes. My intent was to put just a little color in my otherwise pasty skin. At one point I complained to the technician (what do you call the person who assigns you to a room?) that nothing seemed to be happening so maybe we needed to turn it up a notch. She told me that one of the beds had just had the bulbs changed so that might speed things up. And, she was going to set the timer for a longer period of time.

Huge mistake! The combination of the intense bulbs and the longer duration caused me to end up at the emergency clinic with what they called "solar poisoning." I was in horrific pain and looked like a cooked lobster. That was the last time I subjected myself to a tanning booth.

Spray on tan seemed like a good idea. No risk of pain. I had no idea what I was doing when I used a coupon to get the "look like you have been to the islands." I had a date that evening and as the evening progressed I noticed my arms were getting darker and darker. A little while later I went to the restroom and I laughed when I saw how white my teeth were. My skin continued to get darker and my teeth kept looking brighter and brighter. Again, the need for sunglasses for those around me to cut the glare my smile was emitting. My date and I had a good laugh as we made bets on what would be my final ethnicity.

Then there are the do it yourself self tanning lotions. I tried that, too, but you have to purchase just the right lotion and be very careful how you apply it. It was too much trouble to try and keep things even. I would end up with extra lotion in the crease of my elbow or at the wrist or behind my knees which gave the appearance I needed a bath. How many times did I have to wear long pants in the summer to avoid the inevitable stares?

I have a coworker that must be using a self tanning lotion because he keeps showing up with rusty looking hands. No thanks. I will keep telling myself that my very white skin complements my very white hair. Whatever!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Summer Camp

Did you ever get to go to summer camp? I was very fortunate that each summer from 5th grade through the 9th grade, I was shipped off for two weeks to a very rustic camp in Arkansas. I loved Camp Wyldewood. It lies at the foothills of the Ozarks and it is beautiful! Of course, as an adult I found it to be much more attractive in the spring and the fall when the temperatures do not require ingesting a daily salt tablet. I can remember how hot we campers were during those summer months. There was no electricity in the cabins which meant the only air conditioning was from the random breeze that blew through the screened-in windows on three sides. At the front of the cabin was the only door and on each side of the door were built in closets. With fourteen girls per cabin there was very little room for hanging many clothes. We kept everything else in footlockers that slid under the bunks.
If you hurried through lunch you had a little time to grab a somewhat private shower which was my goal. I was a skinny, flat-chested 11 year old who absolutely dreaded the communal showers even worse than the cold-water-only plumbing. I assume the boys had the same accommodations although their daily swims more than likely constituted the extent of their concern for personal hygiene. As hot as we were you would think we would have been happy for the cold water. Not!
But it was fun and in spite of some mild homesickness each year, those two weeks were the high point of my summers. My family always took vacations as well but those were typically spent in a car with my younger brother and sister arguing over who got to sit next to the window. My time at Wyldewood was a close as I got to freedom and independence until I went off to college. I made some great friends in Session V and each year we left with full autograph books and addresses for pen pals that usually lasted until Christmas.
In addition to daily devotionals and Bible study, there was softball, hiking in some of God's most beautiful country, swimming, canteen and crafts. We had Sadie Hawkins Day, lots of singing and a big night out where we dressed up, paired up and were given a tour of the nearby university which was the alma mater of all the counselors. Years later I would see many of those same campers when I chose to attend that same college.
Those were the days. Before curling irons and blow dryers. Before cell phones and texting. Before the internet and emails. Before Tivo and 500 channel choices. It was a simpler time and brings back a lot of happy memories.