Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Summer Heat Burns My Soul

The other day I did something completely out of character for myself. I took off my shirt while outside. Now it was in my back yard, however I did stay topless as I pushed my lawnmower around to the front of the house and in the garage. What’s the big deal you say? People take their shirts off all the time so what’s my problem? To start let me paint you a picture of what I look like. I’m 6’1” tall and go about 240 pounds on my leaner days. I am light skinned (my Irish, Scottish and English bloodlines win out over everything else for me), have freckles and am hairy. Add to that a lifelong image issue with my body (Americans seems to have this problem more than others) and there you have my reluctance to be seen shirtless even if it’s in my own yard. At least my body issues aren’t as bad as Kevin Smith’s who suffers from a much larger (pun intended) problem than I do. Please note this isn’t a dig on Smith at all, I terribly admire what he has accomplished in life and he has inspired me to start my own creative endeavors at long last. He has stated before that he doesn’t like taking off his shirt at the doctor’s office or even in front of his wife. At least I'm not that bad.

Basically what has led to this change in behavior is that my wife wants us to take a vacation to the beach but the only time available between our schedules and before our son goes back to school is towards the end of July. The closest beach for us to do this is in Galveston, Tx, about a nine hour drive away. So given my natural pale state plopping me into Galveston in late July means I will literally be red, sunburned to a crisp, unless I slaver zinc oxide on and wear long sleeved shirts and pants with a floppy sun hat at all times. Of course that endangers me to overheating myself on the beach and constantly sweating throughout the day so neither of those appear to be ideal working situations. My only other option now seems for me to go into the yard doing whatever work I can without wearing a shirt for about 30 minutes a day. Currently in Tulsa we are having 100 Plus degrees of weather and so far this week each and every day has been an Ozone Alert Day so I have to be very careful that I don’t overdo it. Today I even went over to a friend’s house and sat shirtless while our kids were in the pool. Very abnormal behavior for me but I do seem to be going through some life changes all for the better in the last year.

Perhaps by the time our vacation starts I will have been so sufficiently exposed to the sun that I won’t have many issues as long as I’m smart about what I’m doing. My wife won’t have any troubles at all. She is from Lima, Peru and has darker skin than I do. Thankfully our son is a mix of the two of us and while he’s not very dark skinned he’s not pale like his dear old dad and the more he gets outside the more tanned he seems to get. Being from Lima, my wife grew up going to the beach all through the summer but hasn’t been to one since she visited Atlantic City in the fall of 2002 when she was a freshly arrived vacationer to these shores. She ended up staying in the country but moved to Tulsa the following year where we met. Ten years is long enough and although it will be stretch financially and given my natural aversion to the sun, I’m willing to do it for the sake of our family. A family vacation has been long overdue and besides, I could stand having another go at some crawfish or alligator. That's one of the other changes I’ve undergone in the past year or so, I’m trying and enjoying food that I never would have touched in the past. Let’s just hope I make it back from all of this in one piece without too much burning.
Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

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