June 25, 2007

Uses For The Pasty

A declaration of pale skinned power, from another Boar column.

What is the sound of summer? Is it sunny pop music wafting over the gentle buzzing of wasps as they attack picnics up and down the land, the screams of the stung mixing with the chirpy melodies? Is it a different sort of melody, the promise filled but sinister warblings of icecream vans, the kind which the mother of one of my friends told her children meant the icecream van was empty and on its way back to base to get more supplies? My friend was in her teens when she realised the lie. On campus one must factor in the seemingly constant sound of duck sex which begins as soon as the sun rises and is more effective at waking students than a cleaner with a hoover. Mind you, duck sex makes up for it by resulting ducklings, the number one distraction around with their cute little ducky faces, and cute little ducky feet and ducky ducky ducky, come here ducky… sorry, I was writing a column or something?

For me the sound of summer has a distinct flavour. It’s the age old cry of “Are you ok?”. Yes, yes I am, I just happen to commit summer’s cardinal sin of being pale. Just because I look like I’ve be trapped in a dark room for a billion years does not mean I am unhealthy. Nor does it mean I have not been out in the sun. Summer’s distinct smell is Factor 40 suncream.

The national obsession with getting tanned means those of us who cannot tan spend the entire summer justifying our DNA. It’s hardly my fault my ancestors settled in the cold, dark, cloudy regions where it was more useful to reduce energy expenditure on melanin in favour of being able to run that little bit faster when woolly mammoths attack. Unfortunately we then used our energy to kill all the mammoths thus rendering our justification for pastiness obsolete. Now all that’s left of these hard-as-nails-although-nails-hadn’t-been-invented-yet cavemen and women is a mass market for Factor 40 stuck with an undeserved reputation for being unhealthy and soft. Our case really isn’t helped by the cultural prominence of gothic teenagers who cake their faces in white paint and spend all day indoors writing poetry and not doing sport. They’d be shit in the face of a pissed off hairy elephant but it is them who people see as the representatives of pale.

We pales have our uses. The mocking doesn’t last long after we point out that if our friends stand next to us they look considerably more tanned than they actually are. Suddenly having an ashen friend is the way to instantly looking better. We are even more effective if we stand quite close as the sun rays will reflect off our skin onto yours thus ensuring an all round tan.

It’s not like I’m trying to be pale on purpose. I just don’t tan. At all. I got really badly sunburned once, proper full on sunburn with almost all the skin on my back peeling off, painfully, over the course of three or four days. That was the least pale I have ever been and I was redder than the Kop during a Liverpool – Chelsea match. And the best bit? All this happened not on the rolling beaches of the Costa del Sol, nor the exposed sunny mountains of Italy, but in Wexford. That’s Wexford in Ireland. Ireland the emerald isle, where the emerald grass grows greener than green on a diet of rain, rain and rain. If I didn’t wear suncream and eighteen layers I could potentially combust! And if you think eighteen layers is excessive then please remember that your pathetic modern fibres just don’t have the sunblocking power of mammoth pelt!

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