According to lore, my father’s family has survived the following (mostly American) historical nightmares: sailing over on the Mayflower, fighting in the Revolutionary War, escaping the Irish Potato Famine, traversing the Rockies in covered wagons, fighting in the Civil War, traveling west during the Dust Bowl and heroically doing it all in 20* weather, while walking five miles to school in the snow with hot potatoes in their pockets and newspaper in their shoes. We are also apparently related to Daniel Boone, great American pioneer and noted badass.
My dad’s ancestors were tough, no-nonsense, hardy people (although, to be fair, my mom’s side survived the Holocaust, so she wins the battle of The Hardiest Ancestors). It is safe to say that I am made of sturdy stock. On the inside. On the outside, however, I am quite literally translucent – I am, in fact, so white that one time last year, my veins were so vibrant and visible that I thought I was rotting from the inside out. My vampiric paleness, coupled with the fact I spent several summers in the sun trying to burn off my acne and then eventually changed the actual chemistry of my skin with Accutane at age 20, has me terrified now that I will look like this when I am 35:
I am so scared of this that I have recently conquered my nearly decade-long fear of smearing unnecessary lotions on my face (for fear of enticing whiteheads) and am slathering on 70 SPF sunscreen on my face and “decolletage” (read: neck) every morning. I’ve even added a ridiculously enormous floppy hat to the rotation, for use when outside with the kids in the yard. Long, long ago, I saw a woman driving in West LA, wearing sun-proof gloves, in order to ward off sun spots and premature aging on her hands. At the time, I thought she was a craze. Today, I am wondering where I can get some of those gloves.
As I was describing my new annoying obsession with skin care and sun protection to a fellow teacher and bragging about how responsible I am being with my high SPF, non-comedogenic sunscreen, she said, “Oh, a dermatologist I know told me it doesn’t matter what SPF it has on the bottle. Nothing protects more than 30 SPF does. Anything higher than that, they are just charging you more money for the same product.”
To which I responded, “God bless you for thinking I was spending more than $9.99 on it at CVS.”