The new green is the old stupid.

I know it’s not medically sound, but I find a nice summer tan appealing. 

We are the type of New Englanders who celebrate winter by staying as close to bed as possible from November to March, and when we emerge in the spring, we look like ICU patients freshly pried out of a full-body cast:  atrophied, a little loopy, and a horrible, maggoty white.  

So when the sun returns, I’m pretty eager to get some roses in my cheeks.  Yes, yes, we use sunblock if we’re going to be out for longer stretches of time – but for normal outdoor time, we generally don’t bother with hats and such.  To be honest, I count myself lucky if my kids all consent to wear pants when leaving the house — I’m just so pleased that we actually managed to get going.

Anyway, while a little sun-kissed glow can be a cheery and attractive thing, a tanning salon tan is another matter entirely.  It’s like the difference  between the appealing physique of a farmer or contruction worker, and the shaved, sculpted body of a gym rat.  You can tell right away if you’re looking at someone who is actually living his life, and someone who is just gazing in the mirror.  There’s a such a weird disconnect there, it almost makes me think that people who invest lots of time and money into their personal appearance, just for its own sake, have some kind of minor mental illness.  I mean, what’s it all for?

 Really, I am all for making ourselves attractive, within reason.  Heck, my husband probably wishes I would spend more time working on my personal appearance, and I certainly struggle with vanity of all sorts.  But whenever I try and focus more on, say, keeping my eyebrows tweezed, or trimming my cuticles, I can’t shake a little whispering voice that says, “This is how you want to spend your time?  You are getting older, and someday you will definitely die.  So which fabulous Revlon color is gonna match your coffin, hmm?”  And then I kind of lose my enthusiasm, and put the cuticle trimmer down.  

So my brain really started to splutter when I heard about a new business that’s starting to flourish:  solar powered tanning salons .  

Oy, I don’t even know where to start.  This concept buries the needle on my irony meter.   It’s bad enough to put time and effort into getting a tan which looks much too even and smooth to have anything to do with the messy old sun.  But to use the sun’s power . . . to run a machine . . . which makes you look like you’ve been in the sun . . . I think we’ve achieved untenable levels of stupidity here.  

And I guarantee you,  the environmental benefits are bogus anyway.  They always are, when some business based on vanity tries to style itself fashionably green.  Among the eco-friendly perks offered by one solar-free solar-powered salon, I especially enjoyed this one:

 Sunlounge offers a unique recycling program to its customers who can return their empty beverage and lotion bottles to be recycled and receive a $1 credit towards any tan treatment.  Proof of purchase required.

Hee hee – that’s right, make sure you’re clutching that receipt from your favorite nutrient enhanced hydration beverage in your little caramel-colored claw, so you can get a dollar off next time you need an irony fix.  I tell you what, I’ll give a $1 dollar credit toward a day at the beach to the reader who comes up with the other half of this metaphor. 

Because I know this idea is just like . . . something.  Doesn’t even have to be about the environment — it’s the idea of simultaneous imitating and avoiding something while exploiting it to get its benefits. 

Help me out, readers.  Getting a tan from a tanning salon that runs on solar power is just like . . . what?  Extra points if it involves Nancy Pelosi!

Simcha Fisher

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Simcha Fisher is a cradle Hebrew Catholic, freelance writer, and mother of eight young kids. She received her BA in literature from Thomas More College in New Hampshire. She contributes to Crisis Magazine and Faith & Family Live!, and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She is sort of writing a book.

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