SPF 0: Painfully Waiting to Peel
I have a bad sunburn. I get burned at least once every summer. This one is quite nasty—my nose and neck got it worst; my legs are a bit singed, too. My whole body is reacting to it. My head’s fuzzy, my eyes are irritated (probably sunburned themselves), and I need to take a nap. The tag in my shirt collar feels like a thorn.
We were at the Under the Volcano Festival yesterday. It was a glorious sunny day, with a nice breeze coming in off the water. The breeze always gives a false sense of security. Its coolness makes you forget that the sun is boring billions of radioactive needles into your epidermis. (Nice sentence, wanker.) We sat down on the grass to watch a band for 20 minutes, and that was it. In the hours afterward, walking around looking at the hippies, I could feel the heat spreading across my body. Something was definitely up. The belter and I checked each other over by pressing fingers into skin and observing the white ovals that slowly faded into the crimson expanses of our necks and backs. Yeah, we’d been thoroughly sizzled.
I remember the worst sunburn of my life. I got it one summer at Alick’s place on Gabriola. I was probably 13 or 14. It might have been the summer that Live Killers came out. We’d spent most of the day exploring Taylor Bay in inflatable dinghies. I’d been wearing shorts and no shirt—a look I haven’t sported since—and, once again, no sunblock. Though the planet still had an ozone layer circa 1980, we both got horribly burned and spent a week in our beds up in that cool little loft. His mother brought us various salves and ointments to reduce the agony. They helped slightly, but they couldn't stop the pain from going right into my bones.
It’s funny—I’ll never forget that pain, but I can’t quite remember how we spent the days while we waited for our sunburns to fade away. We most likely listened to CFOX and mock-interviewed each other into a tape recorder…planning careers that, I hoped, wouldn’t include playing outdoor summer festivals.