When I don’t go outside for a while, like if I don’t make an effort to get out of the house and stand in the sunlight, I get really pale. I work in a restaurant, it’s in a basement, it’s so dark inside that after a really long shift I don’t leave until the sun has gone down, which, especially in these summer months, that feels like a long time, a really long shift.
One time I had this friend, he put this whole thing of tape around his forearm. I was like, “Man, what are you doing?” he was like, “I’m just trying to see if I keep this tape on my arm for a while, like maybe it’s going to get really pale,” he’s a construction worker, always outside, he’s got that golden coat of tan, you know, like you see on the well-to-do, always golfing. But my friend’s not golfing, he’s hanging shingles or something, I don’t know, not shingles, whatever, I just made something up, but he’s outside, like installing windows or something, something outside.
I was like, “Why do you want to do that?” he’s like, “I don’t know, why not?” so I said, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Doesn’t your skin need to breathe?” and he got defensive, he shot back, “All right man, you know, maybe that’s a risk I’m willing to take, and maybe you should just stop asking so many questions.”
And so I did, I stopped asking questions. But maybe I should have asked a few more, like aren’t you worried about keeping the skin clean under there? Or, aren’t you afraid that it’s going to hurt really badly when you try to just rip that tape off? Because he did keep it on there too long and, I’m sure something happened with the pigmentation, but nobody was ever able to tell, because he got a rash, and he kept itching it, probably in his sleep, because people would ask him, “Hey dude, you should get that checked out. Are you itching it?” and again, he’d just kind of turn his body, like protecting his taped up arm, “Leave me alone, all right? I’m not itching it.”
Why would he lie about itching it? Like I said, itching it in his sleep, whatever, just a theory, but there was a definitely a rash, an aggravation, and it must have gotten infected, and there was an extended stay in the hospital. It turned out to be one of those antibiotic resistant bacteria, and we were all really scared, I thought that was it, for his arm anyway, I was like, if he’s making it out of there alive, it’s going to be with one less arm. And for what? Why did he put the tape on in the first place?
I don’t know, the doctors handled it. They got some sort of different antibiotics or something, I have no idea. But it made me think about my job, my lack of sunlight, our differences in tan, my lack of any color. One time I went to the beach and made a little design out of sunscreen on my chest. Sure enough, I went home, took a shower, and there it was. I should have maybe thought out the design a little better, it was crooked, my applying of the sunscreen was definitely inconsistent.
I kept my shirt on for a while, not that I really have any reason to take my shirt off, still, I’d look at myself in the mirror and think, why did I do that? What was the point? Maybe it was the same thing with my friend, with the tape. Maybe he was really just very bored, maybe he wanted to see a really crazy precise white stripe across his arm. Why? Why not?
Back to my job, back to the basement. I get worried that my skin is going to get so pale that I’m going to get that same resistant bacteria covering my whole body, they’re going to have to put me under a giant human-sized heat lamp, just like a tanning bed, but red and yellow instead of ultraviolet blue, they’ll be like, “Sorry Rob, even the antibiotic-resistant-resistant antibiotics couldn’t knock this thing out of your system. We’re hoping that these big lights here might cook it out of you. Yes, it’s going to be painful. All movement is going to be very unpleasant. But when it’s all said and done, we’re thinking you might walk out of here with a pretty sharp looking tan. And that’s something to look forward to, right? In this time of year, right? That’ll be pretty cool, don’t you think so?”