(I’m taking a break from enjoying the current heat wave…we’ve gone from -8 degrees to a balmy 6 degrees…to bring you this post…)
This week’s cold snap, or Polar Vortex (will this be one of the top terms of 2014? Or is it too early to discuss that?), prompted the news outlets to proclaim that we are experiencing the coldest temperatures in twenty years. Twenty years? That used to not mean so much to me, as I’m such a young, hip soul (play along and save your comments, ok?), but when I stopped to consider that piece of trivia, I realized that I actually remember the last time we dealt with subzero temperatures. Not surprising, considering the reason.
I was a sophomore in high school, and it was February. I recall that because my high school had an annual Sweetheart Dance, where girls had to invite dates (the feminist in me now hopes that this tradition has fallen to the wayside), and my friends and I were very excited for the dance. I had a date, a cute semi-formal dress, and I had booked my appointments at the local tanning salon.
Now, if you know me, you are probably very surprised to read that last part. Tanning salon? Me?!? The one that can’t be out in the sun, even with SPF 50+, and not get sunburned? The pasty, freckled, very pale one that can not tan to save her life? Yep. ‘Tis true. Tanning beds were all the rage back then; we didn’t have any of this spray tan stuff. I didn’t go tanning all the time, but every once in a while I could convince myself that if I just tried one more time, I could hold some color. So, a-tanning I would go.
You can imagine the panic that set in, at least with all the girls, when school was cancelled for several days before the dance because of inclement weather. It was super cold (thus, the parallel to this week’s weather), but I also remember a lot of snow on the ground. We were so concerned that the dance would also be cancelled, as most school events typically are when school is closed due to weather issues. For whatever reason, though, the dance was not cancelled, and I went ahead to my last tanning appointment on the day of the dance.
Everyone has those “stupid teenager” ideas, right? Well, one of mine was to stay in the tanning bed for extra time that day. What was I thinking? I probably thought that I would walk away, nicely browned and looking lovely for the dance.
Wrong. Way wrong.
That evening, I greeted my date wearing a black, strapless party dress, complete with a bright red sunburn (tanning bed burn?) that was even more painful than it looked. The burn was in a lovely circle shape on my chest, as well as my back, which made the strapless dress just the perfect frock for the occasion. Oh, the looks I got at the restaurant during dinner, and I got even more attention for not wearing a coat when it was so cold. That burn made me feel like I was on fire. Had I fallen on the ice, I could have melted all the snow on the ground. It was miserable. In fact, that is the extent of my memories from that dance. I’m typically pretty good at recalling details, but aside from the big facts (who my date was, the style of the dress, and the burn), I have managed to block it all out; or, perhaps my memories were just singed off my brain by the heat of that burn.
Fortunately, I never got back in a tanning bed again. Sometimes it takes a severe burn from light bulbs to convince someone that they will never, ever be tan. Ever.
Did the Polar Vortex prompt you to remember what you were doing twenty years ago?