But for some reason, as soon as I hit the teenage years my skin changed, going from my old Italian olive- tone to sickly looking sallow. I don't know how or why this happened, but it's the God's honest truth.
This, of course, did not change my desire for nutty-toned skin, so each summer I would lay myself out like a lizard to soak up the rays.
Who the hell thought of wrinkles and skin cancer back then? Certainly not I!
In May of 1985 my boyfriend, Matt, and I went to the beach, even though the temperature was only in the mid 70s. It was our first taste of summer that year and we were grasping it wholeheartedly. So what if he was a redhead and could burn on a stormy day? I was ready for some rays and off we went on his moped, me with a Stephen King book in hand.
Me and Matt, 1986, his Junior Prom
Damn that book was good.
And geez, the weather was so cool and delicious. No need to go in the water.
In fact, no need to ever flip over to my other side because hey, it was only May, it was cool out, no way was I going to burn.
Matt told me many times that he thought I was turning a little pink and should turn over.
But my book was so good, I didn't want to put it down. And hey, it's only May. I won't burn!
Four hours later, Matt got very insistent with me, that I either needed to turn over or we'd have to go. I was no longer pink, but a mean, dark red.
So I flipped over.
It immediately felt like I had laid my body down on a bed of hot coals. I stood up quickly but holy shit, my skin now felt like Matt was holding a blow torch to my legs and back.
And back then, even my one-piece was quite skimpy so quite a bit of hiney was showing. Previously very white hiney.
All I could think was, "Get me the hell out of this evil sunlight, NOW."
Let me tell you, sitting on a hot moped seat in this condition was not a good thing. I've basically blanked out the entire drive to Matt's house, which is probably a good thing.
The next thing I remember is laying on my stomach on his bed, screaming and crying that my legs were on fire. His mom standing over me not knowing what to do. Finally, one of them had the idea to blow a fan directly on my legs. Ahhhhhhh... that felt so damn good, but if someone even so much as stepped in front of the fan, blocking the air flow to my sizzling skin, I would once again scream and whimper.
Matt somehow got me home that day, where I proceeded to lay upon my bed, barely able to move for the next 3 days straight. My mom had fans blowing on me constantly, and several times a day she would crack open an aloe leaf and spread that cool goodness all over me. The pain of her touch was intense, but at least I got some temporary relief once she was done.
At one point, when Mom came in to spread the aloe, she said something like, "Justine, this isn't looking too good. Your skin is turning purple and bubbling.
Purple??? Bubbling? Like, little tiny bubbles?
Oh no, big, quarter-size bubbles. That were purple.
It would be at this point that most parents would take their kid to the ER or something, but not my mom! Nope, she'd just keep that aloe coming and I could just keep duck-walking to the bathroom because my skin was so tight I couldn't bend my legs. I would eat laying down on my belly and just lay there being miserable.
After 3 days I would be forced to go to school for a few hours to take a final.
Standing up the entire time.
With gigantic, oozing bubbles on the back of my legs.
I won't even go into detail about what it was like when those bubbles started popping open. I'll just tell you that there was wet skin flapping everywhere.
It was the worst burn I've ever seen a human being get from sunbathing, and if I sit here and really think about it, I can remember the pain like it was yesterday.
That was not my last bad burn, although, thank God, it was the last super bad burn.
I still rarely use sunscreen, but I also rarely lay out in the sun these days.
The best medicine for a major burn? Definitely fresh aloe.
My best advice? Don't lay out in the sun. Or if you do, use sunscreen!
This post was inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, and the prompt: "What was your medicine? Write about a time you remember being ill."
**Note to self: Call dermatologist tomorrow and make appointment for a baseline examination.**