Jewish World Review July 6, 2001 / 15 Tamuz, 5761

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Pale at the Thought of Bronze -- I’M one of those pathetic people who don’t tan. My skin color has two settings, pale and scorched. I can do Casper the friendly ghost or boiled lobster, but very few shades in between.

I’ll go through the entire summer and come September I will still be as white as a sheet. I practically glow in the dark. On the upside, my family never needs to hunt for a flashlight. They just say, “Mom, show a little leg, Dad dropped the car keys.”

Naturally, I am a marketer’s dream when it comes to those self-tanning lotions. I first tried one in high school. The advertisement in Teen magazine said the lotion was guaranteed to transform my anemic-looking skin into a stunning beautiful bronze. My stunning bronzed skin would not only make me prettier, it would also make me more popular at the beach. What’s more, I would look positively gorgeous dangling on the arm of an extremely handsome lifeguard.

I was excited. I was particularly excited because we lived in the landlocked Midwest, I had never been to the beach and I was a rotten swimmer.

I slathered on the lotion. If one coat would make me bronze, two coats would make me very bronze.

Why stop with very bronze? I slathered on more. I would aim for very, very bronze. After three thick smelly coats of quick-tanning lotion, I climbed into bed with dreams of waking as a beautiful bronzed goddess.

Once I made it to the beach, (Teen magazine was vague as to exactly how that would happen), I’d have to break through the admiring crowd to make my way to my own personal lifeguard. I wasn’t sure but what I would wake up tanned, tall and blonde. High hopes for a pale, short brunette, but a girl does expect a little something for a $5.95 investment.

I awoke the next morning and found the results were just like the bottle said – stunning. My brother took one look at me and was momentarily stunned hitting his head as he fell backward laughing. My arms were the shade of a ripe peach. Add some fuzz and they could have plastered me on tourism brochures for the state of Georgia.

Then there were my legs. Stunning indeed. They were a sickening, putrid orange. My knee caps were the color of a jack-o’-lantern and the palms of my hands matched. My mother took one look, gasped and ran to her medical book to check the symptoms for hepatitis.

For five days I wore blue jeans, a long sleeved flannel shirt, shoes, socks and a wool scarf. A fine fashion ensemble, but it did draw a few stares in the 90-degree July heat.

Last year I finally gathered the courage to try one of the new and improved tanning lotions that turn you lovely coffee brown, not a putrid, sickening orange. The lotion came in four shades: light brown, golden brown, dark brown and extra crispy. Naturally, I went for the extra crispy. I applied the lotion with a steady circular motion and wound up with spots just like cheetah.

Two weeks later I had another go at it. This time I tried a foam version of the self-tanning lotion and applied it with long vertical strokes per the directions. For six days I lived with stripes on the backs of my legs that bore a remarkable resemblance to a zebra.

We may live in the Age of Bronze, but I for one have made my peace being the color of paste.

JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman