Most of you know me. For those who don’t, I feel I need to make a disclosure. I am white.
I don’t mean as in Caucasian (though this happens to be true). I mean as in Casper the Friendly Ghost. I mean translucent. Not eggshell. Not ecru. White. I don’t tan. I freckle. I splotch. I turn white again. If you ever see me with a tan, it is certain that I have purchased it somehow.
And, in the words of Lady GaGa, I was born this way.
My husband loves me, so he tells me he loves my white skin. He also claims to find my middle-aged gut “cute.” He is suffering from a credibility problem.
Did I mention that I was born this way?
I obviously also thought I had a “good side.”
Anyway, it is not like it used to be. Now we appreciate beautiful, pale, spotless skin, untouched by the sun.
Now, people go to great lengths to protect their skin.
But I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. People basically covered themselves in Crisco and laid out.
Not a great time to look like Casper.
Well, like most of us who are blessed (cursed?) with extreme whiteness, I am also burdened with … extreme situational redness.
When I exert myself, or get hot, or get embarrassed, I turn beet red. It is horrible. I don’t have a healthy blush. I turn a purplish-red that makes people think they should call 911.
Once when I was in high school, in PE we had to run a mile every day for a week. We were preparing for the Presidential Fitness Test. It was really the only week that you couldn’t get out of participating in PE by just standing around talking, or due to the “time of the month” or some other excuse. Everyone had to run. I did not enjoy this for many reasons. But the worst of which was…the redness.
I had Spanish after PE. During run-a-mile week, everyday, Senora Altintop, my Spanish teacher, would ask me the same thing when I sat down in class. “Senorita Reed. Por que esta’s tan rojo? Su cara es muy, muy rojo. Esta usted enfermo? Debo llamar al medico?” (EDITOR’S NOTE — This is a rough translation. Also, I know the upside down question marks are missing, I just don’t know where to find them.)
I knew that Senora Altintop was messing with me. She would not really call a doctor if I were sick. She would send me down the hall to the school nurse. A teacher messing with me also made my face turn red.
Ever the pleaser, though, I would respond, “No Senora Altinop. Yo no estoy enferma. Yo corri una milla en la educacion fisica.” Actually, I didn’t say this the first day. I just said “I’m not sick. We just ran a mile in PE…” “En Espanol, por favor!” she said, before I could go on to explain that I always turn red when I run.
You can picture the rest. One word at a time. My redness not decreasing. (“Yo,” “yo.” “no estoy,” “no estoy.” Etc, etc.) Everyone looking. Laughing. All I wanted to do was lay my head on my cool desk. By the end of the week, though, I think I had it down.
I haven’t run a mile since.