The thing about sunscreen

(I’m at the beach this week. I know, you hate me right now. That’s ok. I understand. You probably should. I deserve it. I mean, the sun, the sand, the waves, the water. It’s all quite beautiful. And you’re not here. Feel free to be jealous all you want. I’ll just keep relaxing.

Anyway, did I mention that I’m at the beach this week? Which has given me all sorts of blog material. So for the next few days I’ll be writing about things that have amused me or made me think. They may not amuse you or make you think, but that’s because you’re holding a grudge against me for being at the beach when you’re not.)

Some people still aren’t using sunscreen. Seriously, folks? After all we’ve learned about the sun’s rays and the damage it can do to our skin if left unprotected? Cancer, painful surgery, and even death apparently aren’t strong enough motivators.

I mean, imagine if people still smoked cigarettes.

(Of course, I can’t seem to give up french fries, and they’re probably every bit as damaging to my body as tobacco or UV rays.)

Can’t blame people, though. Sunscreen is such a pain…

  • The initial contact of sunscreen with skin is almost torturous. You know it’s going to be cold. Your whole body tenses in anticipation. And that first sensation of liquid on your outer layer is shocking. If you’re using old-school lotion, it gives you flashbacks of any ultra-sound or other medical, umm, procedure you’ve ever had. If you’re employing the cutting-edge spray stuff, you feel like your greasing yourself up with cooking spray. Am I about to lay cookies on my chest and slide into the oven or am I going out to the beach to lay out?
  • Coverage is a problem. We’re not Dr. Octopus. We are not equipped with the amount and flexibility of appendages required to ensure that all parts of our exposed skin are protected. If you don’t have a significant other with you, there are no guarantees that you’re getting any outside help. Which leads to a decision you must make…
      • Concede that spot in the middle of your back that your arms just can’t get to. You are not a risk taker. You play it safe. Asking someone to assist you could be awkward or lead to rejection. So instead, you play defense and try to limit the time you lay on your stomach. But you might end up with an uneven tan. And that just looks bad, man.
      • Ask a friend to help with your back. This is a bold and sometimes controversial move. Who do you ask? The answer to that question depends on many factors.
      • Do you have spray sunscreen or lotion? If it’s spray, you can seek the help of either gender. If it’s lotion, you better stick to the same sex. No guy wants another dude’s hands on his body. For any reason. And most guys have trouble touching the skin of a female without going all George Costanza.
      • On a related note, is there any way a guy can even ask a girl to rub lotion on his back without the girl assuming that he’s going to go all George Costanza on her? Sometimes, ladies, we just want to protect our skin from the sun and have no ulterior motives whatsoever. I swear.
      • Another consideration is how well you know the person assisting. Are they going to treat your skin with as much concern as they treat their own? Or, more importantly, are they going to use the lotion to write their initials, or draw an inappropriate picture, or the ultimate in dirty sunscreen application…put their handprint, right in the center of your back?
    • Let’s say you choose to get help, and you take care of that place in the center of your back. What happens when you go to wash that sunscreen off in the shower? There is no scenario where it’s feasible or appropriate to get the person who helped you apply it to help you wash it off. Unless you have some sort of tool that let’s you reach the center of your back with soap, you’ve got a residual sunscreen issue. So instead of a sunburnt spot on your back, you have a spot that your shirt sticks to. And I’m not sure which fate is less desirable.
    • If you’re a particularly hairy fellow, you can forget getting anyone to assist you. Nobody wants to apply lotion on a guy who could be a stunt double for Sasquatch. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Same goes for back acne or any sort of skin issue. You’re on your own, pal. Better get used to center-back redness and pain.
  • The smell of sunscreen is a novelty. It’s cool to catch the aroma when you’re not at the beach because it makes you think about being at the beach. But when you’re at the beach, you end up smelling like sunscreen for several days. Which leads to more questions. Who decided that it’s supposed to smell like coconuts, anyway? And do actual coconuts really smell like that? And why is that song, “I’ve got a bubbly bunch of coconuts” suddenly stuck in my head?

So the thing about sunscreen is, it will protect you. But you’ve got to use it right. And you’ve got to have help. You can’t do it all on your own.

Which got me thinking about life…

Some people don’t want to be protected.

Some people aren’t smart enough to see their need to be protected.

Some people want to be protected, but they’re too afraid to ask for help. Or maybe they don’t know Who to ask for help.

Some people ask for help, and it’s not the help they need.

But the bottom line is, unless you get the help of Someone, there are going to be parts of your heart that are vulnerable to the harsh rays of life.

You may end up getting burned.

And that’s worse than smelling like coconuts.

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