Defining Moment’s resident “guinea pig”
for testing new products on the market, I elected to try
out “Sally Hansen’s Spray On Self Tanner”,
assuming it would give my pasty, Irish skin the sun-kissed
glow it’s been lacking all of these years. The innocent,
copper bottle seemed to be non-threatening, and promised
that within mere hours, I could go from semi-Albino status,
to reveling in the bronze skin of a Hawaiian Tropics model.
However, what was to be a harmless trial ended in tragedy…so
hellish in nature it can only be described in the scribbled
notes I jotted down throughout this journey.
FRIDAY 7:00PM: I begin primping for a
night out on the town. One glance at my pale white flesh
lets me know it is time to try out this miracle tan in
a can. No longer will the sight of my pigmentless skin
blind onlookers, or arouse the gothic community. I pop
the cap of the aerosol bottle, and begin spraying myself
from head to toe with, what the label described as, a
“refreshing, odorless mist”. In reality, the
fumes are so intense and highly unpleasant, it’s
similar to sucking on an exhaust pipe. Lightheaded and
slightly wheezy, I do not falter; I do not break, until
my entire body is entirely covered in a layer of clear
“You look exactly the same,” Jonny O comments
in confusion. Yet, I am secure in the knowledge that beauty
requires time and patience, and in this case, it shall
take “one to twelve hours”.
FRIDAY 10:25 PM: Jonny O and I have met
up with friends at a local bar, and have begun drinking
heavily. I’ve nearly forgotten about the application
of the spray tan, but am abruptly reminded when the bartender
asks me what happened to my face. Assuming he’s
flirting with me, I respond with a coy, “Wouldn’t
you like to know?” The level of drinking becomes
elevated, and the remainder of the night slips into oblivion.
SATURDAY 8:30 AM: Jonny O is frantically
shaking me from my alcohol-induced slumber. His screams
seem panicked, frenzied. I awake, frightened of what may
have occurred. He’s demanding that I look in the
mirror, and his choked pleas fill me with a gut-wrenching
dread. But nothing could prepare me for the horror we
were about to endure. The reflection that looks back at
me is that of a monster. I, too, join in with his screams.
I crumble to the floor, and expose my arms, my legs. My
worst fears have been proven true. I am deep orange in
color, with darker, dirt like streaks smeared within.
My flesh seems to have taken on a shriveled, elderly appearance,
and the pale spots where the tanner didn’t work
cause a cancerous, diseased look, almost as though the
very cells of my being have rejected this substance. My
skin appears to be rotting away. As I curl into a fetal
position, I can still hear Jonny O’s sobs of terror,
echoing throughout the house.
SATURDAY 12:05 PM: Jonny O has long since
recovered from the initial shock of my skin tone, and
is now unable to control his laughter, every time he looks
in my direction. What has resulted in a horrific nightmare
for myself, proves to be the highlight of his weekend.
He has forced me to take pictures of my bizarre catastrophe
in order to share our experience with the world, followed
by calling loved ones to entertain them with the tale.
Surprisingly, countless hours of scrubbing do nothing
to rid me of my carrot colored nightmare. There simply
is not a strong enough loofah in the world. My flesh has
been rubbed raw, but the irritated redness is hardly visible
beneath the deep, pumpkiny hue that has taken over. It
seems the more I attempt to rid myself of this tan nightmare,
the darker I become. It has become clear to me that the
self-tanner is winning the war.
SATURDAY 10:15 PM: The Defining Moment
Staff has been invited over, and with the assistance of
whiskey, have succeeded in humiliating me to the highest
extent. While I do my best to laugh along with them, I
can’t help but feel as though my recently varnished
skin color has caused me to become an outcast. Are the
staff members’ jovial taunts that of a racially
motivated nature? Are there other people in this world
that suffer from “bad fake tan” discrimination?
I yearn to find a chat room for others, like myself.
SUNDAY 9:35 AM: Jonny O is rocking a
pretty harsh hangover, or at least I would like to believe
this is the case. Reason being, upon opening his eyes,
he rushes into the bathroom to vomit. This may be the
result of viewing my stained, flaking skin, but I am hoping
otherwise. It has been a full thirty-eight hours since
the initial application, and the darkening process has
finally ceased. My fingers and toes have taken the brunt
of the damage, resembling wrinkled, burnt sausages. The
remainder of my flesh is the color of cherry wood stain,
with a pungent, somewhat unsettling aroma. As Jonny O
heads back into the bedroom, the sight of a bronze colored
bottle catches my eye. I am certain there is at least
half of the can remaining. He smirks at me, clearly amused
by my misfortune. As he drifts into a peaceful sleep,
I reach for the can, and know what must be done. He sleeps
on soundly, as I throw back my head, and laugh and laugh.
June 30th, 2005