Me vs. the Sun

So I have this thing I do where I’m stupid. Don’t worry – it’s endearing. Trust me.

Every year I fight this battle. It’s epic. Think the 300 Spartans holding their ground at Thermopylae. The charge of the Light Brigade. The Alamo. Custer. The Starks of Winterfell against… well, pretty much everyone. (Noticing a theme?)

It’s my rite for summer. It’s relatively harmless as far as rituals go. I don’t sacrifice a virgin, draw stones for a lottery, or re-enact some Dionysian orgy. (Well, I do my best to try to start some naked revelry every once in awhile but The Queen tends to shut that one down pretty quick.)

But this is my personal tradition for the season. I battle the sun. And once again, this past weekend, I lost.

Until this year, I didn’t understand why I was unwilling to acknowledge the sun’s power. It’s the same story every year. I go out to do battle with that fiery tyrant then come home soundly defeated. I gingerly dress my wounds as I vow revenge next year. But now I’ve figured it out and I’m ready to share with you.

Last Sunday was my “the pool is open and let’s get all of those pool tasks done” day. The Queen and I went on a dream vacation to Scotland at the end of May. I spent a week at our corporate headquarters training for a new job. All good things but they had put me behind the pool season by a few weeks.

So Sunday was my day to get things done. I was a man with a mission. What a great day to be outside! It was sunny all day but that’s not a problem, right? I was only going to be outside for about 5 or 6 hours.

Sunscreen? Ha – no thanks. Sunscreen is for old people and infants.

And, apparently, anyone with skin. Ouch. Once again, I ended the day with a stinging red burn across my shoulders that I just knew was going to peel. Ugh.

I know that I should wear sunscreen. I understand the science. I’m not some flat-Earther or other junk science cultist. I make sure the kids are well-coated with the appropriate SPF. But I just seem to have this mental blind spot about the need to protect myself.

Is this me hanging onto the immortal worldview of the young man? I thought I was okay with aging. I down a fiber drink every day. (It’s better than eating brussel sprouts.) I rock the full-out salt-and-pepper hair. (I’m not the guy who has a colorist.) I take a statin for my cholesterol and run on the treadmill 5 days a week. (Maintain, maintain, maintain.)

My idiotic rejection of this cancer-protection treatment makes no other sense. This must be that last refuge of the feeling of invincibility. The obstinate belief that I’m going to live forever. That mortality is not my destiny set at the moment of my birth.

I’ve learned my lesson this time. I swear. No more stupid obstinance. I’ll sunscreen up for the rest of my days. I’ve got to take care of myself, after all. No longer will I take the ignorant risks of the young man.

Oooh, look – skydiving! Let’s try that!

We’re not getting any younger!


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