Being a traditionally pasty looking ginger man the only way I get colour is if I go for a spray tan. I have only ever done it once and looked better but the experience was a nightmare. Firstly the place is full of people going in and out resembling the United Nations, some looking great, others looking distinctly odd. So you take a punt that you will look as if you had been basking on a beach in Mustique, The Bahama’s or even Cullercoats at a push. I don’t trust sunbeds, they have a habit of turning a little peaceful mole, minding its own business into a potential killer! Ideally a good holiday would do just enough, but thanks to lock downs, travel bans and different countries not letting us in, we have been forced into staycations. Now Britain is fabulous, especially the North and Scotland, but if you end up a gold colour it would more likely be rust!
On my first ever trip to a hot country (Spain, a lads trip) I discovered something that every ginge should know. If you do get a lot of sun, your full body of skin dies of shock, and at night time it peels off like a tight wet T shirt!. It also really hurts, when you sit, stand, walk and especially when you are in bed. I took a viagra just to keep the sheets off my skin. What I also discovered was that every hot bath becomes a monkey bath when you are badly sunburnt. As you get in you go “Ooh ooh ooh, ahh, ahh, aarrgh!” and you squeal in pain. That is why at every hot holiday resort ginger folk are watching all of the beach games from under a sun umbrella, from a shaded bar, or is wearing a huge sombrero!
So as foreign travel (that I LOVE) had been stolen from us, a spray tan seemed to be the only thing to stop my bacon rind coloured skin look like I was close to death. So I walked into the shop to see the girl behind the counter. Each finger nail big enough to shovel snow, meaning that any simple typing task on the till or her computer keyboard took five times as long. She was probably only in her mid twenties, but looked like her forties, her face dark brown and worn. Although she did not have a cigarette while I was in the shop, her pouched wrinkled mouth told me that she did, along with the smell of smoke from her hair and clothes. Her false eyelashes were big enough to catch butterflies, and every forty or so seconds she added another layer of lipstick. Each time she had to push more ‘stick’ towards her lips, as if it saw her face and was backing away down the tube in terror. She was a heavy set lady, who in between customers maintained a banal conversation with some unfortunate on the other one. As I waited my turn for the spray tan, her patter continued “I told her that I would never go out with HIM!”. I thought how much he had dodged a bullet, when she half whispered (therefore making me listen even harder) “and he DID have that…..thing!”. What was that…..thing! A vibrator?, a wooden leg?, a labradoodle?, syphilis?, a cold sore? a Teddy Ruxpin? I would never find out damn it! More lipstick smeared on lips big enough to French kiss a moose! Just then an older woman walks in, skin like Dr.Watson’s leather Gladstone bag. She was already far beyond holiday colouring, to be honest she was as near a blackbird, with bloodshot eyes finishing off her sour look. I presumed that she must have no mirrors in her house. The girl from the sunbed shop said “Back for your weekly top up?”. She took off her woolly hat, and her spiky punkette hair stood on end. It was jet black too. This woman looked like a puffin that had swam into an oil slick. The shop assistant looked at me, in the way that every girlfriends Mother looked at me. Totally unimpressed as she spoke down the phone again “Look I’ll call you back Chardonnay, I’ve got this bloke to spray. Eight sun beds to supervise and she was going to have to do the spraying too.To my horror she took me in a back room and told me to get undressed, as she added another quarter inch of lipstick to her mush. So there I am in a booth being looked up and down by this woman. All my life I have been comfortable undressing in front of women, but this was awful. “Hoick your underwear over your hips!” she said. I’m sure she meant ‘hike’ but I did it. I know I had lost weight, but I knew it was not enough, so I felt embarrassed, ashamed, old and incredibly pale. “So what would you like?” she chirped. I thought, this is no time to offer extras, not when you have a breath that could peel paint. I wanted the tan to start so I did not have to breath it in,. It was a mixture of Rothmans and cabbage, and it filled the room, and I was cornered with nothing on other than my undies. She continued “Do you want to look like you have just had a holiday, or do you want darker?”. On seeing some awful unnatural tans, I said “Just a healthy glow please!”. That’s what I got and I parted with £25. I won’t be doing that again. I felt like an old family car getting a respray to try and pretend it wasn’t knackered.