Thursday, July 31, 2008

JOURNAL EXCERPT: May 17, Wed., 1978 10:00 PM

"Went swimming today with G. over at his sister, A.'s, apartment. I enjoyed being around the girls at the pool. My nose is sunburned."

MANHOOD REDO: At the time this was written, I think I used to jokingly refer to myself as the bronze Irish god. The sun in West Texas is pretty harsh, and I spent a lot of time in it, got sunburned more than once with blisters on my back. I didn't know about aloe at the time, but how I wish I had. It is a plant whose juice is the miracle cure for burns. Rub it on multiple times over a few hours and the pain and redness disappear. Instead, I spent hours on my stomach trying to sleep and hours during the day trying to keep my shirt from touching my back.

Everyone in their teens and twenties in Lubbock would spend time outside tanning. Every spring, probably sometime in April, the coeds attending Texas Tech University and living in the dorms would line their lawn chairs up outside the dorm building, put on their swimsuits, and spend time the they weren't in classes under the sun trying to turn brown. If you were pale everyone thought you looked sickly. My sister and I would sometimes spend time together tanning in our back yard. I don't remember there being sunblock lotions with SPF numbers, just oils and lotions like Coppertone that were supposed to help you turn brown not red. Since Sunscreen Protection Factor (SPF) was first introduced in 1962 and the height of my tanning period was in the mid- to late 1970s, I suppose it's possible sunblocks were available and I just ignored them. I'm certain that things like tanning beds and booths had yet to be introduced.

I remember looking at my parents pale legs and being fairly grossed out. Of course, now I am my parents. I worry about the sun, especially since my father has had skin cancer appear repeatedly and had to have it removed especially from his ears and nose. Aging can have a way tempering our sense of control and power as men. At 52 I'm feeling a little more vulnerable than I did in my 20s.

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