Freckles Are NOT Cute
I have a confession to make. I don't tan. At best, I freckle heavily. At worse, I burn and blister.
My introduction to the California sun was a birthday party for a fellow 7-year-old. The supervising moms took us to Half Moon Bay where we cavorted on the beach all day. My own mother was hosting my brother's birthday party, but allowed me to go with a large bottle of Sea & Ski and instructions to the Supervising Mom that I HAD to have sunblock.
These two moms were supervising what must have been at least 12, maybe more, kids. Needless to say, in the excitement of being at the beach, having a party, lots of new friends and classmates, I didn't remember the sunblock and neither did the other moms.
I came home colored like a parboiled lobster. I don't recall blistering, but I do remember spending the next three days in bed, very sore, very sunburned and very sick.
I've been wary of long spells in the sun ever since.
Instead of having one of those perfect, golden California tans, I had dots. "Oh, but freckles are soooo cute!" my friend's parent would coo. "So Doris Day!" Ugh. Gag me.
The Beach Boys were hot. Miniskirts were hot. The "Mod Look" with its straight long blonde hair was hot. California girls had a number one hit song named for them--we were supposed to be hot.
I had frizzy, kinky, curly brown hair and freckles and my parents didn't let me wear mini-skirts. One of my biggest arguments with my mother was why I couldn't iron my hair to get that British Mod look. My mother had the grace not to tell me that looking like Paul McCartney's girlfriend was going to take a lot more than ironed hair.
Only once in adulthood did I manage to lay down a tan. It was summer, I was clerking full time for my law office, and I took my lunch hour in a near-by park where I stripped down to the bathing suit I'd worn under my dress suit, and laid in the sun for exactly 15 minutes every day. Having been confined for most of the year to classrooms and offices lit by fluorescent tubes, I had the pallor of a fish belly. I figured a daily short walk and a bit of sun would do me good. After two months of 15-minute increments in the sunshine, I actually acquired a nice tan. It vanished with the fall of the autumn leaves, leaving me more heavily spotted than before.
Since arriving in Israel, I've spent more time in the sun than at any point previously in my adult life. First, sans car, we walked everywhere. Even after we got a car, walking was still a pleasure and we walked to stores, to Moshava Germanit, on Shabbat, from ulpan, for exercise, to see the Tayelet, to Talpiot when we didn't want to fight traffic or struggle for parking.....and each trip brought me a bit closer to looking like a map of the constellation Andromeda: little brown spots EVERYWHERE.
Yossi's little girl tried to tell me that being "white" was considered beautiful in this part of the world. "Ah, motek," I told her regretfully, laying my arm next to her baby-smooth beige arm, "I'm from California where women spend a lot of time in salons and on beaches trying to get the exact color you've been born with." Her eyes widened. This was clearly a new and revolutionary idea. I added that most California girls would prefer to have her peach-beige color rather than my conglomeration of spots. "What's prettier?" I asked her, "Your nice smooth beige tan, or skin with all these spots on it?" "I would be pretty in California?" she asked tentatively. "You are beautiful in all the world, not only in California," I assured her. [And she is--we've already warned Yossi that he's going to have to beat off boys with a baseball bat in about six years.]
Yossi himself assures me that I am fortunate to have the most handsome husband. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband.....but we're a bit, well, older, and somehow I was taken aback that Yossi would see anything special about his looks. "He is so blond! And he has blue eyes!" Yossi explained. The Husband was a surfer dude in his youth.
"Yossi, where we come from, blond hair and blue eyes are a dime a dozen--there's nothing special about it," I remonstrated.
"Here, it's special," he insisted. "This is the Middle East, Sarah. There are not a lot of people with blond hair or blue eyes."
Okay, it's not Michigan. Still, I have seen a large number of fair-haired and light-eyed people here, and many of them are in the Palestinian Arab population, not merely the Ashkenazim.
However, none of this tacit approval of "fairness" did a thing for my on-going battle with the sun. Sunscreen to keep out ultraviolet rays, to protect against skin cancer, to moisturize against dryness...and to stop the proliferation of these freckles!!
Last week I was in Superfarm and saw sun screen on sale. Sun screen at summer's end is always a great deal--often 50% off. Since my supply was running low, I bought a bottle.....and after reading the label, realized that not only was it a sun screen, but it was also a "self-tanning" lotion. In other words, a dye.
And you know what? It works! I have a tan that would be the envy of any California beach bunny, even if it is artificially induced. No more freckles!
*photo courtesy of http://www.fiftiesweb.com/tv/howdy-doody.htm