You know you’ve unlocked a new level of whiteness when you begin carrying around an umbrella to use it as a parasol. Even saying the word “parasol” makes me think of turn-of-the-last-century ladies in their white doily dresses and broad brimmed hats taking a gentle stroll along the promenade before retiring to their swooning couches.

But there you have it.

It used to be that I would simply stay in the house during the hours when I was most likely to get burned. That is to say “daytime”. The effort of applying and re-applying and removing sunscreen was more work than I cared to put forth. Once classes began, however, the system had to change. On most days my classes begin at two in the afternoon. The half mile walk from my parking structure to my buildings takes about fifteen minutes: which means fifteen minutes of uninterrupted, high-noon summer sunlight.

After one day I had the sun kissed blush of young love. After two days I had the flushed complexion of an athlete performing a vigorous workout. After three days I was the color of an apoplectic conservative senator in a gay pride parade.

Something had to be done.

My inherent dislike of sunscreen was occasionally reinforced by articles written wild-eyed, organo-homeopathic evangelists railing against the industrial-corporate products that were widely available on shelves. These articles typically recited a litany of synthetic additives and chemical compounds and went on to describe the cancerous, necrotic hell awaiting anyone who dared to be too liberal in their application. I didn’t want to believe these claims, but since I didn’t like wearing sunscreen anyway, there didn’t seem to be any harm in using these claims as a Valid Excuse.

So I turned to my trusty, dusty umbrella for some portable shade. The umbrella is small enough to fit in my bag and wide enough to cast shade without catching the wind. It is apparently made out of tin foil and tissue paper. THere are two chances that it would keep me dry in the rain: slim and fat.

But it does seem to keep me in the shade, so for all my self consciousness it does seem to be doing me some good.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on September 6, 2013.

One Response to “Parasol”

  1. Welcome to my world!! I have a small umbrella which I carry in my purse everyday as well. Like you, my noontime walks with a co-worker started leaving me red & redder. Like you too, I don’t care much for sunscreen, the smell, or my lovely little allergic reaction to it (oh joy!).

    Own the paro-ella, even after numerous rolled eyes and laughs, I still am not without mine. A Frenchman & his wife said something to me when I was owning it in France & I felt less foreign in Japan since I was doing what the locals do. I’m still getting used to the vampire comments since I think deep down somewhere I still have a soul.

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