Coffee Break [1/8/22]

Your mid-morning pick me up

The worst sunburn I ever got was on a trip to Chincoteague, VA. I was haphazard about applying sunscreen, and after a week of swimming in the ocean and going out on fishing boats, I began to regret my halfhearted efforts. On the drive home, whenever we’d stop, I had a friend spray my back with aloe vera. She assured me it wasn’t that bad. I believed her. Until a woman at a rest stop gasped when she saw my friend ministering to my tortured skin, which it turned out was a mass of blisters. Don’t be like me, or these foolish people. Protect yourself, Deadsplinters!



    • Ouch, it’s hard keeping sunscreen on your feet at the beach. It gets washed off even if you walk along the water, and sand gets stuck them. It’s just messy.

    • Being of Anglo-Canadian descent I don’t tan, I either go from pale with a flushed face (the drinking doesn’t help) to burned, there is no middle ground.

      We used to have a place in Miami, in South Beach, and ONCE we went down for a quick weekend. We left on Saturday morning and were back at our jobs on Monday. We did this because Better Half’s boss’s boss had a winter retreat in the area and she invited us down for dinner. He couldn’t say no and we had our own place to stay in so this wasn’t totally unreasonable. Plus I think he and she expensed the whole thing; God I miss the days when mid-level corporate executives and their “spouses” could do things like this. I also miss reliable and frequent airline flights but apparently those have also gone the way of the VHS tape.

      I foolishly mentioned this jaunt the following Monday and for three or four years thereafter when I’d show up for work on a summer Monday I was accused of taking another of my Miami weekend getaways, when in reality all I’d done was walk the dog over the weekend and/or sat outside at a brunch or gone to some fellow New Yorker’s rooftop for a party or something.

        • He (his lineage at least) must be from the north, maybe the Alto Adige? That’s the Alpine region up near Switzerland and Austria.

          Genetics are very strange. When I lived in Germany I had a Norwegian-American friend who was Norwegian on both sides and yet he looked like (and was often mistaken for) Oates of Hall & Oates. He once got locked out of his own dorm room, there was drinking involved, so he stayed with me in mine. In the morning he took a restorative shower and when he emerged he still had the Oates perm. I had assumed he used tons of “product” to get his dark black hair to look like that but no, I had none of this “product” and he didn’t have any on him, it was just natural for him.

  1. Worst sunburn I ever got in all my years in Florida was in December on Sanibel Island. I simply didn’t realize that I was 150 miles closer to the equator than I usually was. I was like, eh, weak December sunshine. No need to slather up.

    Now I put on sunscreen when I go for a walk. I’ve had two skin cancer spots removed. I prefer that there be no more.

    • Skin cancer is no joke. I’m lucky to have a darker complexion so I’ve got some natural protection and haven’t had to deal with that. But these days I’m not taking any chances and wear it if I’m outside for any length of time.

      • A related but less deadly problem is simply sun damaged (age) spots. Basically big brown freckles. They’re not usually cancerous, but I’ve had people ask me if I’ve had them looked at (the answer was yes). The dermatologist freezes them off. I’ve also removed small ones by simply treating it regularly with salicylic acid. But once they’re gone, I don’t want them back. So sun screen.

    • I’m old enough that we had some ozone layer when I was a child and nobody wore sunscreen. I’d tan very dark but not burn. I guess even tanning is damage though.

  2. Even though I’m fair-skinned, I must have enough olive oil in my veins from my Mediterranean forebears that I just don’t sun burn.  I’m more concerned about getting extra Vitamin D so I don’t wear sunscreen.  I wear a hat when I’m out on the farm though, to protect my scalp, but I also do it because I look cool in the big straw hat.  I would wear a giant sombrero or one of those big foam Texas cowboy hats, but my wife says absolutely not.


  3. I’m Asian and we get extra dark under the sun.  I’d get a sunburn and then after that I wouldn’t burn.  When I worked as a lifeguard, I was often mistaken for Indian or black when I had a hat and sunglasses on.

    But those days are done after a skin cancer scare.  As I mentioned once before, my doctor said that with all those moles on my skin I should consider myself a red haired fair skinned Irishman (which he was) and cover up.

    The worst part was going to visit a friend in the OC, er, Orange County and going to see the Long Island Grand Prix then burning my scalp thus finding out in a physically painful way that my hair was thinning.

    I don’t recommend it.

  4. I was 23 and in Belize doing archaeology fieldwork. I had a very good base tan from small doses of sun with sunscreen and we went to the coast for the weekend to see the ocean. I really wanted to snorkel on the big reef and once on the boat, the guides explained about sunscreen being bad for the reef and not to use it.

    Of course I had a halter top swimsuit with a mostly open back and no shirt or anything with me. And I’d never been snorkeling so I had no real idea how much sun my back would get. It was really, really bad.

    Anyways, then that evening we had a 4 hour bus ride back to the town we were staying in. And by bus ride I mean the Belize busses are old school busses which stop and start and lurch a lot so my poor back was just bouncing off that all evening. Not my best night ever.

    • Sun reflecting off of water is intense. I’ve done a lot of canoeing and kayaking and learned early on the not only use sunscreen but cover up! Swim shirts and a towel across the legs.

    • My worst sunburn took place in Belize too, for the same reason – I didn’t want to help bleach corals – so no sunscreen. Weirdly,  Mine was on the front of my legs below the knee.  I actually got sun poisoning. I think they itched uncontrollably for at least two weeks. Ever since then, if I get too much sun on my legs they start itching.

      I am blonde and blue eyed with very pale skin but I actually tan fairly well – I do wear at least 30 spf though. My father and I have the same coloring and he’s in his late 70’s now and at least every other month he has to get a basal or Squamish cell area removed. He never wore sunscreen, so I hope I’ve managed to nip it in the bud.

      I didn’t wear sunglasses for a long time but when I worked on a film in Santa Fe back in the late 90’s – I ended up getting an ocular migraine from working out in the sun all day for two weeks. I went blind for like a day – it was scary. The doc actually yelled at me for not wearing sunglasses so I’ve been wearing them ever since.

  5. I can tan a smidge, but as an Irish/eastern-Euro Jew mix, I crisp pretty easy.

    My worst? I was a farmhand for a summer as a teenager and I was usually good about putting on sunscreen, but I was running late one morning and left it in my bag. I usually split my mornings between picking in the fields and then greenhouse work. That day, all outside. Normally we’d stop picking by 10 or 11; on that day, another guy and I were trying to finish a big field of strawberries and we went til probably about noon.

    I thought nothing of any of these things until I was headed home. I lived close and wasn’t 16 yet, so I was riding my bike. There was a tight little path I often took, and it was lined with bushes and trees, and as I was going a branch rubbed my arm and I almost screamed in pain. My arm was ON FIRE. And by the time I got home, I was a ruddy pink and when I tried to take a cool shower, it was deeeeeeply unpleasant.

  6. I too got my worst sunburn in Belize while snorkeling. I passed out on a small boat due to seasickness and forgot to reapply sun screen. My arms burned so badly and I got a heat rash on top of it. I looked like I had small pox. The sunburn tan lines lasted for months (I was wearing a T-shirt). To this day, if I’m not wearing sun screen on my arms, I can actually feel the warning tickling of the sun’s rays threatening to revive the rash.. I’m of Cambodian descent and have brown skin so that was a big wake-up call for me who never used to burn.

      • I spent between 6-8 weeks there at a time for field work and holy fuck I came home every summer with the most beautiful copper tone tans of my life. Even with the sunscreen. I managed to very rarely burn (aside from that snorkeling experience).

        Like I didn’t know I could get a different color tan compared to the melanin I picked up in summer here in Missouri, or even when I was a kid and we’d go to the Redneck Riviera.

        I wish I could have kept that coppertone tan, it looked so beautiful on me.

        *the Redneck Riviera is Gulf Shores to Panama City Beach, in case folks aren’t familiar with that insult

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