Greased up sunbathers bask along the shoreline of Rainbow Park, like Galapagos lizards on the faraway beaches of that fabled island. Like Darwin, I wonder what its all about, and reflect on the concept of natural selection.
The biggest difference between the two species, humans and lava lizards, is that the lizards actually have a good reason for being out there. The sun and the heat helps them to digest food and keep their metabolisms running smoothly.
People do it because tans are aesthetically pleasing. Even in this age of 10-minute sunburns and climbing skin cancer rates, tans are still considered to be healthy and beautiful. Get too much sun one day, stagger home, and then collapse on the couch, dehydrated and babbling incoherently, and the first words youll hear from members of the opposite sex is how healthy you look. Never mind that you feel like youve run a marathon when in fact you just lay around all day, at least your skin looks vital and robust.
Ive never put much stock in sunbathing, as my ingrained farmers tan will attest.
For one, I find it boring. If I have something to read, I can manage a few minutes here and there, but Ive never been good at sitting or laying still.
Secondly, Its too hot. If its warm and sunny enough to consider sunbathing, its already about five degrees too hot for me. Im a winter person, through and through, with maple syrup running through my veins. The heat saps my energy, my intelligence, my good humour and, given enough exposure, my will to live. The few beach vacations Ive been on were spent almost entirely in the water and in the shade.
Thirdly, I hate that tired and punch drunk feeling you get hanging out in the hot sun, barely able to move, doing next to nothing. Id rather feel exhausted from a bike ride or a run through the trees than an overdose of Vitamin D.
Last but not least, I tend to burn and blister like a lobster in an incredibly short period of time. Those same beach vacations I spent in the water were usually preceded by a few days spent in the hotel lathered in aloe and Solarcaine. Sunscreen delays the effects, but nothing on the market seems to be able to block the sun entirely.
Once burned, I can generally tan a little better, but even my darkest tan seems to fade in a couple of days, after which point I have to go through the whole burn ordeal all over again.
The worst part about burns are the incredibly observant comments you get from your friends.