Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sock tan

But here’s a new worry I have, which has NEVER been an issue before, NEVER. Never, never! It’s small, I know. It’s not earth-shattering. But it’s been bugging me.

All our married life, I’ve mocked Mr. D for his red neck and his “sock” tan. It’s a golfer’s issue, mostly. Shorts, shirt, golf socks. You look good on the 18th green with your 82 on the card, but pretty damn strange in the shower afterwards (not that we were really looking! Please! I have some important knitting to do!) White feet, brown calves. But your tan only goes two thirds of the way up your legs, to just over your knees at mid-thigh, and then it’s back to a white body and that crazy red neck. I imagine tennis pros and rugby players have similar problems, not that I’ve been watching any of THOSE guys in any locker rooms. (Sorry to say, and more’s the pity. I could use the variety. Any volunteers, boys? Come on, you know it’s tempting.)

The problem? Uneven melanin distribution. It’s an aesthetic issue. But, hey, I was an art major. I GET to have an opinion on beauty, or the lack thereof. What if Tiepolo’s cherubs had been all oddly and unevenly colored? With nappie/diaper tans? Or if St. Jerome in the Wilderness had had painfully sunburned forearms, holding that Bible out there in the blinding light in the desert? Or maybe, maybe, the Angel Gabriel appeared at the Annunciation, and his feet were brown, but his body. Hold on! Wait! Angels don't have bodies, do they? Never mind, it doesn’t bear thinking about. OK, we move on.

So. Now? WELL! The tables have turned.

I, the usually marvelously pale and bookish Danish/Norwegian-heritaged creature, have been playing too much tennis OUTSIDE. Really, I’ve only played tennis indoors, for EVER. Chicago: snow, ice; England: rain, rain, rain. What else could a sensible girl do? My favorite tennis coach in the UK used to try to get me to take the occasional lesson outside -- so HE could get a bit of fresh air, for once -- but that was mostly like pushing a rope. I had every excuse in the book. “Mike, my sweet, it’s too hot. It’s too windy. No, no, it’s too still, there’s no breeze. I don’t have my outdoor shoes. I forgot my sunglasses. Hey, babe, I can’t serve if I’m wearing a hat, let’s go back inside. My knees hurt.” Oi! Whot nonsense!

Fortunately, he was too much of a gentleman to tell me to stop my effin’ whinging. Ever the civilized Brit. Don’t you love ‘em? And how I miss him! So, so, SO much! Now I have no one, though perhaps I can talk Russell into coming over to my place for a bit of a hit? But it won’t be the same. Russell’s calves are so.. so... so scrawny, compared to Mike’s. Ah well, what can one do? One has to adjust, I suppose. Wonder what time Russell gets off school? Maybe I should ask his mom?

Ach, back to my problems. So here, well, all there IS, is “outside”! Not an enclosed tennis court in the whole of Gauteng province, I’m sure. As a result, my hair is bleaching out, going from a deep brunette toward strangely tawny tones. (Hey, it is NOT gray! NOT! Button your lip, smart arse!) My skin is getting more and more brown, and I’m sweating in the 30C degree heat (90’s for Americans on the Fahrenheit scale). And I’m getting a freakin’ SOCK TAN. My feet are white, my calves are brown. I look like ... a weirdo.

Please don’t tell me to lie in the sun to even things out. That’s just too much, even for lazy old me. I could read a book, out there in the lounge chair by my pool, but it’s so decadent. Someone recently said to me, “You’ll know you’ve become South African when you can actually concentrate on reading a book while the maid/houseman is working nearby.” I shivered in the sweltering sunshine, but it’s probably too true.

Most of us women (the women who “don’t work”-- and let’s not get going on THAT one) have to actually leave the house when someone’s there, cleaning. It’s just hard to watch someone else doing “our job”, doing what we’re supposed to be spending our time on. Never mind that we’re working from home, paying bills online, writing a newspaper column, organizing a charity drive, communicating with our children’s teachers... whatever. It’s not really the “work” we’re supposed to be doing. What we’re supposed to be doing is laundry and cleaning toilets and ironing and ....

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