June 13 11

Sometimes as kids we do stupid things. Sometimes we learn nothing from these mistakes, because, well, we are kids after all. But sometimes the mistake is so ridiculously stupid that even as a teenager, you know there’s a lesson to be learned in there and you learn it. Hard.

I learned a lesson the summer I turned 13.

Hoo boy, did I ever.

My parents had a beach house on Isle of Palms in South Carolina. It was pretty much paradise, disguised in pastel paint and white picket fences. I was always much more of a pool person, since after swimming at the pool, you never discovered sand in crevices that you didn’t even know you had. But the beach on Isle of Palms was undisputedly beautiful, even to a teenager.

One fine day, I found myself parked on a beach chair with a walkman, a Speedo one-piece, and a pair of red Umbro shorts. And there I stayed. All day. I fell asleep in the chair. I didn’t even go inside for my daily turkey sandwich and mayo (REAL MAYO…not that miracle whip salad dressing disguised as mayo) on white. I didn’t even go inside at all. I fell asleep in the sun. Some time before dinner I was found in the same place I had been all day. In the beach chair. With the walkman. In a speedo. In my Umbros.

I remember at the time feeling kind of annoyed that I had spent the entire day baking in the hot sun and had absolutely no color to show for it.

(Because this is how 13-year-olds think.)

Until I went inside.

Remember that scene in Summer Rental when John Candy’s all “what on earth are you talking about, I don’t have a sunburn!” and meanwhile every single person around him is all…OMG YOU ARE A LOBSTER! I CAN’T LOOK STRAIGHT AT YOU IT’S LIKE LOOKING INTO THE SUN!

Well, THAT.

Only worse.

I was the exact color of my shorts.

And then it started to hurt.

And bubble.

And blister.

And then the fever set in.

I spent the rest of my vacation in bed, unable to even eat turkey sandwiches or see the sun or even put on clothing.

And I have spent the rest of my life with two permanent carrot-shaped marks on my legs, leftover from the Umbro shorts the day I sat out in the sun for too long.

It’s true. If you are nice to me, I might even show them to you.

But only if you promise to wear some sunscreen.

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  1. OMG. As someone who is so so so pale, I feel your pain. When I was little we went to Australia and snorkled in the Great Barrier Reef. Great, except we didn’t realize my sunscreen wasn’t waterproof so I spent 5 hours, with my back up in crystal clear water. That flight home is still one of the most horrifically painful memories I have.

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    ali replied on

    I’m actually still trying to figure out WHERE my parents were for the entire day. I mean, how did they allow me to do this to myself?

    20 years later and I STILL have marks.

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    Comment by Daisy on June 13, 2011
  2. When I first moved to Florida, we heard a rumor that U2 was staying at the Marco Island Marriott before their concert in Miami. We took a cooler of wine coolers (don’t judge-it was 1984)and sat on the beach, drank…and passed out. We missed U2 (yep, they were there!) and I blistered my boobs beyond anything I thought possible. I still can’t imagine your pain!

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    Comment by LibraryGirl62 on June 13, 2011
  3. This is me as well. I have many memories of BAD, BAD sunburns as a kid. People may make fun of me all summer for being so pale, but I’m OK with it because I prefer not to get cancer. It’s why when I was in Jamaica, I lathered up with SPF 50 every day and mostly sat in the shade.

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    Comment by Kristabella on June 13, 2011
  4. Oh, yes, the infamous sunburn. I have a couple doozy stories:
    - “The Pool” – my friend’s neighbors had an amazing pool – a slide, a diving board, and a waterfall. We LOVED that thing. One day, I fell asleep on my raft, intending to stay under the waterfall… and ended up floating into the middle of the pool, no shade in sight. I couldn’t lay on my stomach for weeks after.
    - Hawaii. It didn’t occur to me and my friend that not only is the 80 degree, right on the beach, perfect breeze weather deceiving, but hello! 20 degrees closer to the equator! SPF 30 is NOT enough. My shoulders and back were so fried, that I have permanent freckles there.
    - Jacksonville Beach. This was last Memorial Day, and I made sure to put on my sunscreen! Unfortunately wind + spray-on sunscreen = blotchy sunburn all down my legs. Waaaay sexy.

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    Comment by Darcey on June 13, 2011
  5. 14. Lake house in Texas. July. Marks on my shoulders forever from the burning and blistering on my shoulders.

    Yep. I get this.

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    Comment by Issa on June 13, 2011
  6. We’ve all done that one time or another!My friend & I went to Jamaica for spring break 1989 and since we really didn’t have much money to spend while we were there we spent the whole time baking on the beach with a #2 oil! I don’t think they even make that anymore. Needless to say we were fried. Now at age 43 I am paying the price!

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    Comment by Diane on June 13, 2011
  7. I can definitely relate to your sunburn story. Growing up in Texas where every weekend was spent at the pool, lake, or river to try and beat the heat has left me with plenty of sunburns in my lifetime. The reason for my comment today is because I just spent the last five days in the Isle of Palm! Such a strange coincidence that your post took place there. That island is so beautiful and I would not mind waking up every morning with a walk on the beach and drooling over all the beautiful beach homes. While there I was already trying to figure out a way to go back for another visit!

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    Comment by Ashley on June 13, 2011
  8. Been there, done that! You made me laugh when you said “where were my parents?” Because in the early 80′s when I had my worst sunburns…my mom was right there with me. Her strategy on every beach vacay was “put 4 spf for day 1, you know, until you get a base tan” and then you didn’t need it anymore. Except she has olive skin and I have ghostly white. Her plan didn’t work for me quite so much and day 1 of every vacay was just known to me as “sunstroke day”

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    Comment by Kathy on June 13, 2011
  9. I did the same thing the summer I was sixteen. I was also wearing hot pink Umbros, believe it or not. My parents let me stay home for two days, then made me go back to school, despite the fact my legs were swollen and blistered and scabbing and the skin was peeling off in sheets. I had to use crutches for a week.

    For years, I had that shorts line across the back of my legs. Then in my twenties I started using sunscreen, and now my legs have not seen the light of day in 10 years. But I’m guessing the damage is already done.

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    Comment by Lisa on June 13, 2011
  10. Ouch! That sounds scary.

    My fiancé refuses to wear sunscreen. He doesn’t burn badly, just a bit and then tans. I know this is so bad for him, but he does not listen.
    For our wedding, I will be going Victorian style – lily white / mayo coloured skin. It’s the new healthy glow.

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    Comment by Heather on June 13, 2011
  11. I heard a statistic the other day that scared me. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was something like a person born in the 60s has a 1 in 20 chance of getting skin cancer. For Somone born in the 80s (it could have been 90s, but regardless) it’s 1 in 6. That’s frightening. What does this mean for our children and future generations?

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    Comment by Tamara on June 13, 2011
  12. I have only been burnt once in my life, Jon says it doesn’t count-but it was the the closest I have gotten. But oh mah goodness-permanent sunburn scars is crazy talk!!

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    Comment by Sensibly Sassy on June 13, 2011
  13. I had so many awful sunburns as a kid, I can totally relate.

    These days I use tons of sunscreen. I spent 5 days in the Caribbean last winter and came home without a single tan line. I don’t mess around anymore when it comes to sun. Unfortunately, a lot of the damage has already been done.

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    Comment by Danielle on June 13, 2011
  14. I have been to the Isle of Palms, stayed in a house with a wooden boardwalk across the dunes to the beach, and it is so lovely I can hardly stand to remember it. Actually my husband is going for a week in August, I will be staying home to watch the kids.

    Permanent scars from sunburn? Wow, that is serious.
    (Have you seen the recent Miracle Whip commercials? Its like they’re trying to lose customers – shudder)

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    Comment by monstergirlee on June 14, 2011
  15. Personally, I use an android device, but as long as the developers and marketers are still excited about your post, there will be more money, better apps, and as a result more people still with your post. Thank you for sharing this beautiful articles.

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    Comment by jenny123 on June 17, 2011
  16. [...] up packing a backpack full of bathing suits and changes of clothing and bottles of Coppertone (60 SPF!) and our refillable Snoopy drink containers and towels and we signed up for another day in the sun. [...]

    Pingback by » PSA: Please Think of the Children. And of ME. Cheaper Than Therapy on June 21, 2011
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