"Tanning can be serious to your health. You could die or look like George Hamilton."

A friend of mine recently lost a relative; her grandmother passed away. One might think it was of old age, but it wasn’t. She passed away from skin cancer. Her grandmother died because she tanned everyday. That’s right; she got skin cancer from tanning. It was a long, slow death.

This woman tanned so much that she had her very own tanning booth. The Midwest, where we live, has very cold months. At times, the area we live in has weather that isn’t conducive for having tans. Sometimes it isn’t conducive for being human (I’ll save the cold weather in the Midwest for a different column, a much funnier one. It will contain visuals such as my car being buried under snow and two snowmen having sex.). But this didn’t stop her. She wanted to look good. She wanted to tan.

The problem was, instead of looking good, she looked like a piece of bacon. Every time she talked I could hear her skin tighten. The more and more I saw her, I could imagine her as a side order at Denny’s. It frightened me, so much so that I couldn’t bear to look at her. I could, however, imagine writing the words “genuine leather” on her because, aside from looking like bacon, she also looked like a belt. The kind you get at good stores, like K-mart.

I never did see her alive again. The next and last time I did see my friend’s grandmother was at the wake. She had an open casket and it got me thinking, “When I die, I would like to have an open casket but I want the bottom part open just showing my shoes.” I dismissed this idea because it was neither the time nor place. So I jotted it down in my notepad for future use.

About a week after her grandmother’s death, my friend discovered that she was set to be bequeathed the very same tanning booth that essentially was the cause that killed her grandmother. To make matters worse, my friend actually uses it. “Disturbing,” I thought.

I can only imagine my friend in future conversations with people.

“I heard that your grandmother passed away from skin cancer caused by her tanning booth?” someone would say.

“Yes,” my friend would reply. “I was left the tanning booth in her will.”

“That’s weird,” the other person would say. “How often is a person left a slow death in a will?”

“I know,” my friend would answer, “usually a person is given money or an armoire.”

This is the main reason why I don’t like women fake baking. It’s because of this incident with my friend. Anytime I meet a woman who tans, I always tell her this story. The usual response? “I hate being pale. I wish I had your tan.”

People always wish they have my tan. For those of you who don’t know what I look like, picture someone who is tan year round, such as a Mexican, Filipino, or George Hamilton.

This is what I always get, “You’re lucky. You have a tan all year round.” And so it got me thinking: When I was the only minority in private school every year, getting my ass kicked because I was different from the other kids, the only thing I was thinking was, “You may be kicking my ass now, but twenty years from now you’re going to WISH you had this tan.”

BYLINE:

Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.

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