an open letter to the woman who tagged me like an overpass in south central

Dear Anna the professional spray tanner { and career spray tanners everywhere },

There’s a thin line between healthy glow and flesh-eating skin disease, apparently. At least that’s what I found out two hours after my first { and last } spray tan. For anyone looking for that just-came-back-from-a-fabulous-vacation glow, minus the vacation, let me just say “Spray tanning ain’t it.”

I can’t imagine many jobs worse than yours, really. There’s the telemarketer. And the photographer’s assistant who makes faces and funny noises at babies so they’ll smile for the camera. The Brazilian waxer. And the guy who gets stuck working the Tilt-a-Whirl ride at the fair. Oh, and coal miners. That must be a terrible job. Except that coal miners are always having movies and songs written about them and they’re heroes and they get to take canaries to work and everyone loves them. Especially when a mine collapses and everyone survives and comes out 69 days later. Then everyone really loves them.  

A spray tanner must not get a lot of fanfare, though. And, while I’m sorry you decided on a thankless job that involves wielding a spray gun and looking at naked people everyday, I’m not really sorry. Because you lied to me. First, you tortured me. Then you lied to me.

Can we just talk about first impressions? I mean, you knew me less than 60 seconds. We didn’t even have time to bond before you ordered me naked and completely vulnerable into that room the size of a broom closet. Without any windows or other means of escape. And then left me there for dead without even a robe, towel, or fig leaf to cover my nakedness. There are a lot of things people do naked…sure. But when was the last time you just stood in the middle of an empty room sans clothing? It’s a little unsettling. Plus, it was so freakin’ cold in there, I could see my own breath. And dead people.

It’s cute how you described the spray tan as a fine mist. Fine mist? It was brown spray paint. I looked like a cross between C. Thomas Howell in Soul Man and the brown stepsister in Blue Man Group. PS…with the possible exception of the Marine Corps, no one can hold their arms out for 20 minutes straight. I understand that my arms can’t touch my sides until it dries, but they were about to detach at both shoulders. Then how would you have felt, hmmm?    

And remember how you told me I would be sticky for a couple of hours? I had to walk around like a penguin zombie. For way longer than two hours. And in front of people. What you didn’t tell me was how I wouldn’t be able to sit down without leaving a human stain. Really, Anna the professional spray tanner, do you think I want to leave a brown photocopy of myself all over town? Like Mr. Hankey, the Christmas poo? Hidey ho but no.  

And while I’d like to say “All’s well that ends well,” mine ended about four hours later. When Pasadena, California, saw its first rain in a year. Only it was more like a light shower. Just enough to make me look like I had a flesh-eating skin disease in the time it took to run to my car. I went home to try and fix it, but just made things worse. It looked like I was in stage IV. So I got in the shower and washed my faux glow and forty bucks down the drain.

So, Anna, this is goodbye. I wish you well in your chosen career path. And when I see you on the street, I’ll smile. But until you come up with something better, you’re going to have to find other unsuspecting nudes to paint.  


E.J. Jones

{ Note to my 48 readers – I know this isn’t a post about hair, but it is a post about one’s shameless pursuit of superficial beauty. So Hair Lip it is. 

Oh, and thanks for being one of 48. }    

{ 1 comment... read it below or add one }

  1. 1

    Too funny, E.J. Thanks for the warning. I vow never to try a spray tan in my life! I much prefer the kind of tan that comes by spending hours by the pool sipping something cool and sweet…

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