Molly called the other day to ask me when I was having my face taken off. What she was referring to was the small basal cell carcinoma I’ll have removed from the side of my face next Tuesday afternoon. For women my age, this has become the new norm, the out-patient surgery we are so grateful to have since it means we've managed to miss (so far) the "bad" form of skin cancer.
We grew up in the era of sunbathing without any kind of protection. We'd never heard of global warming at that point, and probably wouldn't have cared anyway. Beauty and a certain indication of wealth were based on a tan, even if the tan was of the backyard variety and not because of a trip to St. Tropez. I remember “laying out” in my backyard as a teenager, oiling myself up like a chicken on the grill, making sure to turn myself for all-over crispiness.
I also remember, as a young mother, watching my little ones in the grass-encrusted, hose-fed kiddie pool, still slathering myself with baby oil as I reclined in my lounge chair, one eye on the kids, the other on my tan line. Still worse, when I was newly divorced and old enough to know better, there was the tanning bed, which allowed not only for an odd orangeness in winter, but also for an increased chance to schedule an appointment or two or eleven with the dermatologist in my later years.
So here I sit, old and wrinkled, soon to be sliced and stitched, so glad my daughters eschew (mostly) the notion of the perfect tan. The sun is shining through my window, warming me as I type. I'm grateful for many things, including not having he slightest interest in taking my beach towel down to the outdoor space I share with my other condo-ites and unfurling it in order to "lay out" in my granny bathing suit. I'm pretty sure my neighbors are grateful too.