Our vacation to Florida had sadly come to an end and we left as the sun was peeking over the horizon, with our sites set on a stopover for the night somewhere in South Carolina. It was sad because when you think about it, there was no real vacation, at least not the perception any of us had of a Florida vacation. But we all bear our crosses and that summer, that cross was that damned first day spent at the beach.
The sun beat on the car as we zoomed north along Rt 95 and with the aid of the pillow from the Naples trip, I was able to at least sit back in somewhat comfort as we sped along the highway. It was a long, often quiet drive as the southern July heat overtook the interior of the car and we were all shimmering with perspiration in spite of the air conditioner’s valiant efforts to exhale, with all its might, what cool air it could in its attempt to do battle against the rising temperature. Bless its little heart.
I watched as the scenery flew by in a blur and wondered what was in store for when I would return to work, my first full time job…oh, right, you know, the one with the crazy Italian lady. I sat in the back seat of the car, my arms safely hidden from the sun under a towel draped over my shoulders and another towel was across my exposed legs and I was fairly successful at keeping myself covered.
Once, when I shifted, I noticed some white spots dotting my thighs and with a swipe of my hand over my skin, they disappeared. Must have been beads of sweat collecting. But they were back a little while later and in great quantity. These spots were the beginning of water blisters that grew larger and larger at an alarming rate and not just on my thighs, but down across both my legs and feet. The ones on my arms remained fairly small and inconspicuous, all the while resembling nothing more than collected beads of sweat. When we stopped at a rest area for a potty break, my only concern was how to get from the car to the rest room without exposing what freakishly looked like grape clusters clinging to my body, the grapevine. I wrapped one of the towels around my waist and hunched over ever so slightly to allow the bottom of it to cover as much of my feet as possible–all the while still having to walk on my tiptoes–and nonchalantly saunter into the men’s room as though no one would notice. Of course the next obstacle was to maneuver all of my wrappings and take care of business and not let the towel fall. What a sight I must have been.
Later in the afternoon we had finally stopped for the day at a Days Inn because nowhere else would please Grandma and there wasn’t a Knights Inn available and my translucent grape clusters were plumper than ever. It was suggested that maybe a dip in the pool, that the chlorinated water, might help dry out my water blisters. Well, did I have to lose? After we checked into our room I tippy-toed to the pool, draped once again in my towel and I quickly lowered myself into the water, keeping my grip on the pool’s edge so I wouldn’t have to add drowning to the calamitous list of vacation “don’ts”.
I’d had enough sloshing around for one afternoon and began my ascent up the ladder. All at once I caught glimpse of a site I never expected and lost all consciousness of my surroundings; I was too deeply withdrawn into my own hysteria. As I emerged from the water, it was a scene reminiscent of the creature from the black lagoon; most of the water blisters, except those not fully formed, pulling the skin to the breaking point, had bursted in the pool and all that swollen skin was now hanging in shreds off my legs. Was this nightmare ever going to end?
Fast forward to returning home and getting back to work and for quite some time there was no chance of solitude or anonymity because I was leaving a trail of dead flaky peelings everywhere I went. I never did get that rich supple Florida tan I was so craving. In fact my skin just grew a lighter shade of red as I molted and after about two weeks, the metamorphosis had been completed and I think I was even more fish belly white than when I started out. I have gotten a sunburn or two since, but ones that paled (no pun intended) to this one.
The moral of this story is, to paraphrase Grandma B’s strict warning to Ariel about me, watch yourself in the sun. It’s so easy to overdo it, especially with today’s sun; lather up and take it in small doses.