Did it ever occur to you that the tanning might be addictive? Two new studies have come to that conclusion, at least tentatively.
“…..the [tanning] hormone has several parts, and one of them is an opiate-like compound. People get out in the sun and they feel good. It’s a feeling of euphoria….It seems to be an addictive behavior like alcohol or smoking, although I don’t know if it’s as strong.” — Dr. Robert Kirsner, vice chairman of dermatology, UM School of Medicine — Miami Hurled
I read something like this, I make it a point to bump into my good friend Tanya Hyde, president of the Haulover Beach chapter of Tanorexics Anonymous. I catch up with her and a few chapter members at the Hollywood Liquor and Rubber Balls sport bar last night. (Daytime, she’s on the beach, tanning. Natch.) They’re celebrating Summer Solstice — Longest Day of the Year, and the first day of summer.
“Sure,” she laughs, her teeth dazzling ivory against the deepest tan this side of Nipsy Russell. “I saw it. Like, duh? This is something new?”
I maintain decent color year round, but next to Tanya and her crew, I’m pale as Casper’s ass. It’s unnerving.
“Look,” she sighs, “we’ve been through this before. See Helios over there? He’s had something like 250 basal and squamish cancer cells removed. Every single one is the result of sun damage. But he’s on the beach no less than 6 hours a day, and always between 10 and 3 when the sun’s the strongest. Why? He’s an addict. Hooked on rays.”
Great tee shirt slogan.
“Yeah. Like, ‘Roast and Boast.’ ‘Baked is Beautiful.’ And look over there — that’s Ra Ra, dancing. How old you suppose she is?”
Who can tell? She has the body and moves of a teenage go-go girl, topped off with the face of Grandma Moses. Maybe she worries a lot?
“Ra is 28. Some dermatologists call it solar urticaria, others prefer polymorphic light eruption or photodermatosis. Basically she’s allergic to sunshine: it turns her flesh into prune skin. Think that stops her? Get real. Tell some smack shooter than needles give him pimples and see if it sets him straight. Ha!”
The sizzle of sun on the skin. The pressure of rays pushing down on your body. The crisp heat of the afterburn…..
“Yeah,” she says, a sly, dirty grin splitting her shining cheeks. “Tune out, tan up, turn on.” Her skin is darker and creamier than the pint of Guinness I’m drinking. How is this possible? “And we go out in a blaze of color, don’t we? It’s all about how you look against the pale sheets in the pine box.”
Tanya, that’s sick. But you know, I like it.
“You know where to find us, beach bum. You need to quit that desk job and live the life. You’re just a ‘rexic in a white man’s skin, I’ve told you that.”
Holy melanoma, Tanya, you’re supposed to be a self-help group, not an enabler! Not a goddam pusher!
“I am helping you, silly. You just don’t know it yet.” She downs her margarita. “Gotta go. Celebration of the first full day of summer tomorrow starts at sunrise, and goes all day. Bring Guido — redheads need to replenish their freckles! See you there?”