Sick burn, brah.
When I was a younger man, I didn’t burn.
I could be out in the sun all day without turning red. I’d just get darker and darker, to the point I looked Puerto Rican rather than Irish-German. It was pretty great, actually. The downside of never really burning, though, is that I never learned, as most people do, to use sunscreen.
That changed in the early 2000s, when I spent 7 hours or so outside at Madiera Beach and came down with the first wicked sunburn of my life. My face, back, arms, neck, and chest were all bright red. I looked like a cartoon character who had gotten really angry, and when I took a shower, I thought I was about to die. I was visiting my folks at the time, and my mom doped me up with fistfuls of Benadryl.
I suspect this doping wasn’t an attempt to treat the sunburn in any way, but to knock me out so I’d stop bitching about my sunburn.
A few days later, when I started peeling, I could have easily done a walk-on as a zombie on The Walking Dead, if only it existed back then. You’d think that would have taught me to use sunscreen, but no. I’m of stubborn Irish-German ancestry, no matter how tan I might look. Learning lessons like that takes repetition, because I apparently refuse to believe my skin is weaker than some ball of hydrogen and nuclear explosions 93 million miles away.
Besides, when I lived in North Carolina, I’d gone to the beach a couple of times and just tanned nicely. Surely the sun had just gotten lucky at Madiera Beach, and I was still tougher than some punk-ass G-type main-sequence star.
Cut to Sunday, when some excellent friends of mine invited me over to hang out, have lunch, and swim in their pool with them. Again, I was supremely confident. Three and a half hours in the water would surely only give me a healthy, this-guy-could-be-from-the-islands golden-brown glow.
And now shirts feel too heavy for my bright red shoulders. I only burned on my shoulders and upper back, and probably not even that badly… but I did burn. You win this round, sun.
The point? Sometimes, even though we’ve made the same mistakes in the past, we keep making them over and over until we learn. It’s rather like writing, in a way that I probably don’t need to point out. If you’ve been called out on something more than once in your writing…
Well, you might do well to look into purchasing a bit of sunscreen.