Hello again from the Big Blue!
I have several items on this week’s agenda. First up: sunbathing.
Remember when it was the height of fashion to be pale skinned? Of course not, none of us are that old. But pick up any Jane Austen novel and you aren’t likely to hear mention of a suntan as a handsome physical feature. In fact, I think it was in Persuasion that one of the main characters, the romantic lead if memory serves, was described in very unflattering tones because of his brown face – a result of his career as a seaman. Personally, I think the man must have had some Spanish blood because I’ve seen a lot of Brits pass through here in fourteen months and the darkest skin they’ve sported was off-white at best. Benjamin Moore is actually introducing a new colour, “Brit White”, to its line of designer paint hues.
“Brit White…don’t look at it too long or you’ll go blind.”
(White people are allowed to make fun of other white people, it’s a fact).
Since time immemorial, tans were for the working class, the peasants. Then along came Jackie O, with her millionaire beau, stepping off his yacht, her body baked golden from hard days of doing nothing under that shiny orb in the sky. Overnight, paradigms shifted. Tans were now a symbol of wealth, power and leisure. Brown was the new white.
In many parts of the civilized world, this presented a real problem. Suntans require, among other things, sun. Just as those eighteenth century maidens found a way to confound nature by whitening themselves with face powder, their modern counterparts discovered the wonders of baby oil mixed with iodine, then tanning booths, then self-tanning lotions, and now spray-on tans to supplement their meager ration of sunlight. But no bronzing aid has ever been quite as effective as the two week, sun-seeking vacation.
Which brings me to Aitutaki.
I’m Caucasian, why fight it? True, I choose to live in sunny locales but this is because I am part reptile and, without an external heat source, I’m perpetually cold. My tan, a colour I refer to as “beige-ish”, I get from just going about my daily life. One of the comments I heard most frequently on my visit home was, “You’re not very tanned.”
First: I’m not on vacation. If I spent my days just lying in the sun, I’d soon be jobless and divorced – not necessarily in that order.
Second: I was tanned. You have no idea how white my private bits are. Brit white, actually.
Third: We had just finished winter. Yes, we have a winter here. We may not wear toques or gloves during our winter but we do tend to stay indoors and wear long pants a lot more.
Now, while I understand why our sun-starved guests are so happy to broil themselves day after day, there are still some folks whose sun worshipping I find amusing and, at times, perplexing. Yesterday we had an Austrian fellow here for the day, using our beach and renting some snorkel gear. This fellow was so sunburnt his back looked like a well done pizza, all bubbly and red…and he still sprawled out in the sun all day. Concerned, Prez went over and talked to him, encouraging the guy to cover up. “It’s OK,” he said in a very Arnold Schwartzenwhatzits voice, “I put some cream on.”
Well then, he put cream on, no worries. Afterall, having a blister the size of a hamster on your back is not a concern as long as you have cream on. Silly me.
Usually the stages of suntanning, for most tourists, go something like this: Day 1 – rush out and lay in the sun for hours. Days 2 thru 10 – slather body with SPF 200 sunscreen, don a beekeeper outfit to protect any exposed skin, whimper a lot, and hide hideously peeling face from public view. Day 11 – Depart.
But for those with the gift of evenly dispersed, high melanin content, tanning can become an endurance sport. Take the couple currently staying at the resort next to us. Please. I mean it. No matter what time of day, or how often, Prez and I take a cool-down dip in the lagoon, these two sun babies can be found rolling, rotisserie-style, on their loungers. “So what?’ you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you so what. Mr Sunbaby is so obsessed with eradicating tan lines that he will yank his too-small, leopard skin, (yes, leopard skin), Speedo right up the crack of his mocha-coloured bum. He will do this then walk around the beach for maximum ray penetration. Ick. Ick. Ick. A few days ago, he ditched the Speedo altogether, strategically covering himself with a towel, while leaning forward in his lounger to get sun down into that hard-to-reach sphincter zone. (Good Cod, I have to go rinse my eyeballs in bleach, I’ll be right back).
Which brings me to my second topic: Speedos.
Men, I’ve compiled a list of people who can wear Speedo bathing suits, please pass this list along to every man you know:
1. Olympic swimmers.
You may have noticed it’s a short list and you’re probably thinking, “Hey, my body’s not so bad; I look good in a Speedo.” Stop there. Stop it. Just…stop. Look, even if you are a Calvin Klein underwear model, (and I’m guessing you’re not because I’ve checked the demographics of my readership and male, underwear models are sadly underrepresented), there is something that happens to a man once he fits that tiny, form-revealing piece of Lycra over his groin…something bad. A Speedo says two things to me, regardless of the physical shape of the wearer. One: “I am cheesy.” Two: “I want you to look at my penis.” Neither of these sentiments will endear you to me, trust me on that.
The problem is, it is the men who are least qualified to wear the obnoxious bathing costume that seem most drawn to it. If I never again see another piece of limp, septuagenarian flesh oozing out from the confines of a fluorescent Speedo, looking for all the world like a roll of pizza dough ready to drop to the sand, it will be too darn soon. And, men, if you cannot see your Speedo when you look down, do us all a favour and toss it in the bin. We don’t mind the happy tummy but the male girdle makes us cringe.
Yes, yes, there are an equal number of women out there sporting a hideous array of bathing attire, (some day I will tell you about the Amazonian Cougar my friend Moana saw a few days ago who changed bikinis six times in the course of a six hour lagoon tour), but come on guys, aren’t you supposed to be the sensible sex? Heck, I bet even Michael Phelps wears a pair of board shorts when he’s not training. However, if I see Michael on our beach, with a Speedo on, he gets a pass…as long as he has at least one Olympic gold medal around his neck to prove his identity.
Speedos bug me. You know what else bugs me? Bugs. Third topic: why do insects exist?
Summertime in the South Pacific means rain. Rain makes the flowers grow, wonderful, but it also makes the insects hatch. There are these little bugs here, black, about half the size of a grain of rice, that show up in droves in the wet months. The purpose of these bugs – I’ve heard them called a variety of names, including “Whiskey Bugs” (?) – is to drop out of the sky. That’s it. I really don’t know what else they do. I imagine them coming to life, crawling out of their larvae sack, or whatever they hatch from, making the long crawl up to our ceiling, then letting go and landing, splat, on our kitchen table, with a self-satisfied grin on their crunchy little faces. Mission accomplished, job well done! I’ve renamed them Drop Bugs. Of course, they don’t just land on the table, they also land on us. Frequently. Try getting romantic with your spouse while Drop Bugs fall like snow, from the ceiling. Not a pretty picture, my dear Nutters.
Ants also love the wet weather. Winter lulled me into a false sense of security; the ants all but vanished. Hooray, thought I, my toxic pesticide spraying program worked! But no, they’re back and just as annoying as ever. I’ve found them in my laptop, in my wetsuit booties, and in my kettle. I once downed half a cup of Earl Grey before I realized the crunchy bits weren’t loose tea leaves.
If I didn’t loathe them so much, ants would impress me. They’re very industrious. Drop a microbe of food on the counter and they’ll find it. And I’ve seen them work together to carry some colossal carcasses away. Sometimes I worry if I lie still for too long I might wake up on the buffet table of a large ant colony.
Occasionally, I lose it with the never-ending ant activity. I’ll see a bunch of ants marching around on the kitchen counter and I’ll just start pounding on the counter with my fists. “There’s a huge compost bin full of food outside!” I’ll yell. “Why do you have to walk on my clean counter??!!” But what’s the point? I’m hopelessly outnumbered. If I was smart, I’d teach them to apply sunscreen to our guests.
No wait, I have it! I’ll train them to eat Speedos!
The ants are my friends.
QUESTION: Do you now wear, or have you ever worn a Speedo? Confess!
Until next week, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!