I lived my young adult life in the 1990’s… Hell ya, I know what a fake bake is. I am Czech by blood and African-American (at the very least Mexican American) by color. I’m racially ambiguous. Look it up – it’s a thing.
But what girl doesn’t want that beautiful glow? That beautiful tan that accentuates your curves and makes your cellulite disappear? I wanted it. In fact I needed it. The first time I had my first fake tan I was super dark. I had been to the Frio River, and had a hellacious tan. Problem was — my boobs and bottom were stark white. I mean white. I looked ridiculous. Best thing ever? Darque Tan. I signed up for a free 1-week membership. I slathered on SPF 1Million on my brown body parts, and tanning oil on my white bits. It was magic.
Pretty much each year after that, I’d get a fake tan to either start the summer off right, or complete the domino tan I had started.
Come year 2009, it’s a faux pas to tan like that. Spray tan is all the rage. Apparently sun (and fake tanning) does harm to your skin. Who knew? With knowledge comes responsibility. It was now my duty to become a responsible skin owner. Whatever.
Ok, I was actually excited. Excited to get away from it all… but not excited about my skin. Mostly because I was winter pale. Boring. I needed a quick fix. What better fix than a spray tan? Better yet — a Mystic Tan! I was being kind to my skin, and kind to the eyes of suiters who would gaze upon this body. So lucky.
I had a vision of what I would look like. That vision would soon be destroyed.
I lived in Pearland Texas at the time and went to a salon that featured the Mystic Tanning experience. I signed up for my $30 no obligation tan at Planet Beach. Nothing like leaving it to the last-minute. I had three days before my tropical vacation, and there was no time to lose. I was in for an experience of a life time.
The attendant walked me back to one of the little closeted rooms. I was in the special room because I was getting a spray tan. Not one of those silly fake baking tans (that’s so 90’s). I’m not gonna lie. I felt pretty pimpy. I was borderline fantastic and about to leave this silly little lobby with the most amazing glitter spectacular spray tan their eyes have ever seen.
I listen carefully. Apply the barrier cream on all dry skin: Elbows, hands, knees and feet. Keeps you from looking like an oompa loompa.
The cute little stick blonde girl gave me all the instructions she could think of. She was thorough. The tanning machine was the size of a photo booth, and she assured me the recorded lady would tell me everything I needed to do. There were feet painted on the floor and posters of the tanning poses on the wall. I got this.
Stick blonde girl left the room. I got naked, put on my barrier cream as told, put on my shower cap and hit the go button. LETS DO THIS.
I’m standing there – buck naked with my hands in the air. The sprayer says: Position one. Spray Commencing (Think: “this is a stick up! drop all your money” position). Feet apart, eyes shut tight, breath held. The sprayer starts it’s luxurious bronze glow from the floor moving upwards. I’m not gonna lie. I’m excited. I’m about to be sprayed beautiful.
Only problem is the sprayer starts spattering out chunks of bronze – only it’s orange. And it’s only from my feet to my knees. Remember, I’ve never done this before so I don’t know what to expect. The machine sputters and gasps. I’m still standing there holding my breath with my hands in the air. The machine then says, “Machine malfunction. Please call attendant. Repeat: (NO SHIT!) Machine malfunction. Please call attendant.”
Are you kidding me?! I’m naked and half sprayed with orange lather?! I grab the only tiny towels in the room. Washcloths to cover my boobs and my business. I lean out in the hallway. “Miss!? Miss?! Is there a Manger …HELP?!”
I can hear a guy from the lobby. He sounds like a 60 year old fisherman/oil roughneck/cowboy. “Hey, someone needs you.” WTF?! Where did he come from. Oh my I hope that’s not the manager?!
Stick blonde girl comes scurrying from the back room. “What’s wrong?” she asks.
The machine is going to ruin my vacation that’s whats wrong!
I point her to the machine who is still yelling at me to call the attendant. She see’s my legs and panics. “Did it spray you?”
Ya, Not shit. “Yes it sprayed me, and yes I need help!” I’m pleading. “What do I do?”
She doesn’t have a clue. She leaves the room. I wait. Mind you — I’m still naked holding nothing but two little tiny washcloths to cover my not so tiny body.
The manager come scurrying around the corner in a panic. I’m terrified as my legs are turing a strange orange hue. “Wipe down her legs, I’ll get the machine!” The manager is rinsing and hustling to get the machine to shut up and rinsed out. The stick blonde girl is kneeling down and furiously wiping down my legs. I’m horrified. She’s horrified. The machine is horrified.
Manager woman fixes the machine. It’s just clogged! Yeah! Whatever. Stick blonde girl goes running out of the room (I don’t blame her, probably scared for life). Manager tells me everything is ok and I’ll get my next tan free! DOUBLE YEAH!
Manager leaves. Stick girl still running. I finish my spray tan. Why? Why on earth did I try it again? I did though. There I was, arms in the air, spray tan moves just like the poster and it dawns on me: I forgot the barrier cream. You know, the cream that keeps you from looking like sunny delight? The cream that the attendent furiously wiped off? Ya, that cream was all gone. My 2 min tan was almost complete.
Complete with extra orange legs, elbows, hands, knees and feet. Complete with an extra dose of humility.
I didn’t walk out of there with my luxurious bronze. I walked out in a fast pace, sunglasses on and my head held down low.
I went on vacation as planned. Only a tad bit darker (oranger) than expected.