With a summer this warm, you start to notice the sun tans. Most of the twenty-something year olds you see are burnt brown like one of those rotating hotdogs in 7-11, and as soon as the sun peeks out they charge en masse to a suitable slope or beach or grassy spot in order to strip down to their underwear and just lay there.
First of all, I never understood the laying there. How much fun can it be to JUST LAY THERE? Not reading, not talking, just closing your eyes and lightly dozing while the UV rays pour through a fragile ozone layer and send your cells into merry dances of cancer. I like the sun, as much as I could like any large and continuous thermonuclear explosion, but I like to watch it from the shade of a tree, underneath a large hat.
The basic problem—the sun is bad for you. Yes it is: a healthy tan is showing off how much you have damaged your skin and nothing else. And personally I think tanned skin, even in summer, looks dreadful. I just don’t like it. I guess there may be a connection to listening to too much Sisters Of Mercy while in my early 20s, but I think if somebody is white (meaning Caucasian) then they look best WHITE (or pink, or beige, or whatever we are). Of course there are a large number of people in Sweden who are not white, but you do not see them (Michael Jackson aside), rushing to bleaching salons where they can get a fashionable “pale” to impress their friends in the cocktail bars.
With a tan you do not look exotic, or mysterious, or healthy—you just look like a white person with sun-damaged skin. And you can see, wandering the streets, those people in their 40s and 50s who have been getting too much sun for quite a few years and now have skin like a camel’s arse—brown, deeply lined, leathery and pocked by a choice selection of moles and cancer spots.
Being Irish, I burn in the sun, so I guess I never had to choose. But those of you who can choose had better keep in the shadows and wear floppy hats because the health systems of the future might have better things to do than slicing cancer out of your leathery, scaly, prematurely aged hides. And, really, who wants to look like this…?