Column: It’s not easy being translucent

As Kermit the Frog wisely once said, “It’s not easy being green.”

Well, it’s not easy being translucent either. Especially on the beach.

I learned this the hard way last week while vacationing with my family at Daytona Beach in Florida.

Most people on the beach are sickeningly tan. Their skin scoffs at the sun, daring it to burn its school-desk color.

My pale skin, however, screams at the sight of the sun much like Nosferatu, and it quickly shouts for the bottle of SPF 1,346.

But even SPF 1,346 isn’t enough to protect my pale skin from the sun. I always get burnt somehow. Never all over, but in patches all over my body.

It can be quite embarrassing. One year, I somehow managed to burn stripes across my torso. I looked like Tiger Boy the Magnificent. (Tiger Boy the Magnificent is a trademark of Joe Grace’s imagination. Any attempt to use said name without Joe’s permission will result in you being seriously made fun of by your friends.)

This year, though, I just burned the back of my legs, a patch on my arm, a patch by my right shoulder and a slash across my right side. It looks like I lost a fight with an iron more than anything else. (Note to readers: Never get into a fight with an iron. You ALWAYS lose.)

When I was little, I tanned quite easily. I lived with my father in Florida during the summer, and I spent the entire time shirtless outside like a good little Florida boy should. And I got dark. Wonderfully dark. George Hamilton dark.

Then I got older. And I had to stay home in southern Indiana and work at the library during the summer. After that, I moved to the vast frozen tundra that is northern Illinois and became a reporter, a job that requires countless hours in front of a computer while the sun mocks you from the window.

And I got pale. Horribly pale. Sinéad O’Connor pale.

Tanning beds are always an option. But I’ve never been able to convince myself to put my body in a warm, lighted coffin that might give you skin cancer.

So I’ve accepted the fact that I’m going to remain translucent.

It could always be worse, though.

I could be green.


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