Okay. I’m pale. I get it. But with my last name and nationality, what do you expect, really? All my life I’ve been the butt of pale jokes and it’s likely never to stop. So I might as well embrace it and inform you of the consequences of living with this complexion.
When I was a kid, we had a swing set. I loved this swing set. I would play for hours around it; going down the slide, swinging on the swings, prancing around the supports.
Eventually even the most hyper active children wind down. After a few hours of play, my once exuberant attitude would diminish radically. But I would soldier on trying to convince myself I was still having fun.
One day exhaustion and denial got the better of me.
That’s right, I fell asleep on the swing. It was in the middle of a summer day with the sun beating down on me, and I was only wearing a thin sun dress. I woke up disoriented and staggered back into the house. At first, I thought the worst part was that I fell asleep while I was playing. Kind of embarrassing. But that wasn’t the worst part; the worst part was the sunburn. The sun literally burned me through my dress.
My memory of that day is hazy, due to the severe case of heat stroke I had. But I do remember that eventually bedtime rolled around and Granny wanted to get me out of my dress and into my pj’s. She told me to take off my dress.
But I could not lift my arms above my head. She tried helping me get the dress off; she gave it a few valiant efforts and then decided there had to be a better course of action.
I freaked out. To me, in my delusional state, the problem was that my arms weren’t working, so when Granny said she was going to get the scissors, there was only one possible outcome.
She was going to cut my arms off in order to get the dress over my head. Totally logical, I know. In the time it took her to go get the scissors and come back I was in full blown panic mode. When she came back in the room, I didn’t see my nice grandmother; I saw a woman that was going to butcher me.
I started screaming “No Granny!! Please don’t, please don’t!!!” She didn’t understand (and why would she?) so she kept coming at me with the scissors. I continued screaming, but managed to elaborate (somewhat) “No Granny!! Please don’t cut my arms off!!!!”.
Granny was slightly confused (for some reason), but eventually, she realized that I wasn’t going to stop screaming bloody murder so she tried to use reason. She explained to me that she was going to use the scissors to cut off the dress, so I could get into my pj’s. But that didn’t matter, I was still panicking “I’ll just sleep in my dress!!!”. And so I did.
The next morning I was able to lift my arms and take off the dress. But the psychological scars lasted much longer than the sunburn. I never wanted to be sunburned again. I took drastic measures to ensure my safety.
Like wearing my winter coat every time I played on the swingset. After all, I’d rather be delirious with heat exhaustion than be sunburnt and delirious with heat exhaustion. At least I was happy.
Big thanks to JArt for being the guest artist and providing illustrations.