Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reposted: Brutal Beauty

This is for you Betty Duffy. This is my original post about how the spray tanner got on my toenails. In the time that has elapsed since when I first wrote this, I saw on TLC that parents make little girls do this for pageants. The whole notion makes me want to cry, vomit and call CPS.

Brutal Beauty

I have always found golf courses to be strange and perplexing places. There is some sort of irreconcilable irony in taking a parcel of earth, tearing out all things indigenous, and replacing them with sod that stays green year-round regardless of the harshest of weather conditions, trees that have been imported from other parts of the world, and ponds stocked with fish from foreign bodies of water. Stranger still, most golfers will tell you that they like golf because they enjoy the time to commune with nature. That notion always makes me wince because I have some idea that nature must contain something natural. Bear this idea in mind as I will now tell you the story of my day.

So, this weekend I will be attending a holiday party at a swanky hotel in Washington. I bought a pretty dress and polished my pretty black heels. I intend to blow dry my hair and spray myself with my favorite perfume. All of these things speak softly to a piece of myself that loves all things pretty. They make me happy and giddy with anticipation of the coming festivities. But as I did a trial run of my outfit in front of my trusty full-length mirror, something was missing. I just looked pale. I looked tired. I pinched my cheeks to give myself the look of a flush. Nope, that wasn't it. It is the middle of December in Virginia. What I need is a tan.

This is where beauty takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque. It descends from something that is soft and luminous, to something that is dark and cold. It rips away from the person everything that is natural and replaces it with something that is synthetic and dishonest. But in my pursuit of beauty, I stayed on the road, even though I knew where it would lead.

My road led to the Mystic Tan in Springfield, Virginia. This is a small shop in the middle of a brand new strip mall. The stores that surround it include Starbucks Coffee, a Borders Bookstore, and a fruit-smoothee shop. The Mystic Tan stands boldly among all of these facades boasting a trendy ocean-blue and sunshine-yellow color scheme. There are large pictures of semi-naked, orange-skinned people with Santa hats beckoning you in. I opened the door and behind the counter a pretty, blonde girl bid me welcome. I told her I came seeking a spray-on tan and she prepared my way. Everything in me was telling me to run away. I was too old for this, I didn't need a tan to be pretty or interesting. "What awaits you is torture!" My mind was screaming at me and my feet just kept on walking.

What struck me first when I walked into room number 5 was the bitter, biting cold. Despite the chill, I closed the door and proceeded to disrobe. Now, I am not one of those who feels self-conscious about being naked. If I go tanning, I do it nude. If I get a massage, I don't want my underwear to get in the way of the experience. Beauty is accomplished in the buff - and so it was. I took off my clothes and walked into the tanning machine. It looked like a cross between a shower and a space ship. I popped my bottle of clear Mystic-tanner into the specified location - and then - it happened.

A freezing cold, super-fine mist started spraying at me with the force of a fire hose. It seemed to permeate every part of my shivering body with it's arctic velocity. The intensity caused me to gasp to catch my breath, the sensation of jumping into a cold swimming pool, and the microscopic particles blew their way into my lungs leaving me without precious breath. Standing there, naked and alone, paralyzed in some awful place between flight and fight, my heart cried out to the dear Lord, "I am about to asphyxiate on self-tanner!"

Needless to say, I made it out of the beauty-torture chamber alive. I am aglow with the sunkissed bronze of one who has spent a spring day on the links. Why did I do it? I cannot say. There is a self-awareness that grips me so tightly sometimes that I feel compelled to perform acts that can only be described as barbaric. Will anyone notice? Will anyone like me even a little bit more. Perhaps. Golfers enjoy the overly fertilized, chlorinated, manicured "perfection" of the golf course. I can only hope that someone at the party will pay me the same mind.


Betty Duffy said...

I think you need to send this in to Natural Health or something like that. Definitely publishable. You're a good writer.

Didn't Megan have a freak out in a Mystic Tan? How do they stay in business?

S to the K said...

Spray Tanning! Whats next a lower back tattoo? Did you meet the Olly Girls? Whats your Myspace URL??
As an avid golfer I would have to put my commune with nature aside and pick, a reason to drink outdoors, as what will always draw me closer to the sport..

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