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    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Teresa Hits the Tanning Bed

    Naturally, it all started with the chickens. As a former registered nurse, I've always been vehemently anti-tanning bed. I prefer to get my cancer the old-fashioned way--from the sun! But when I used some make-up that gave me a temporary complexion problem with a national conference fast approaching, I decided UV light was the only solution.

    I consulted a friend with a golden glow and a bad tanning bed habit and she informed me that they'd done reliable scientific studies with chickens by plucking them and putting them in the tanning bed over and over and making sure they didn't cook on the inside. Naturally, I was horrified on behalf of the poor birds. "Oh, but the chickens were already dead," she assured me. "And they made them wear protective eye goggles."

    No wonder they have to sanitize those beds between use.

    Although some of you have probably figured out that I shouldn't be allowed to leave the house without a keeper unless I'm going to Wal-Mart, I made my way to the tanning salon. It turns out the perky, blonde, uber-bronzed girl behind the desk was there to help me choose a "program." Although I point out that I only want to tan for two weeks, she insists that a "program" will still be cheaper than paying $3.50 for individual tanning sessions. I ask her to explain the options. She explains the $50 option and the other $50 option but she recommends the $50 option. I purchase the $50 option. She also tries to sell me large bottles of expensive tanning lotion, all containing hemp, which I thought was something you either made rope with or smoked with Woody Harrelson.

    To sign in their clients, it turns out that they now use a fingerprint scanner. Convinced this is higher tech security than NASA uses, I realize that if my husband wants to tan with my minutes, he'll have to cut off my finger and take it with him like anti-terrorist agent Jack Bauer in an episode of "24".

    She shows me to the private room and assures me I have 4 minutes to get my clothes off. As I do a rapid-fire striptease and prepare to climb into the forbidding sci-fi like tube, all I can think is, "Are they going to set it on Popcorn or Baked Potato?" Had it been a brain scan, I could have been no less petrified.
    Leaving my undies on, I climb into the contraption and draw the coffin-like lid down on top of me. With eyes clenched tightly shut beneath my protective eyewear to ward off impending blindness, I remember all of those urban legends about the prom queen who tanned too long and all of her internal organs got liquified and began to pour out of various orifices. I start violently as a drop of something strikes my arm. Liquified internal organ? Nope, just sweat.
    The machine jolts to life, bathing me in warm rays, cool fan air, and cheery country music. I try to relax but all I can think is, "What if the uber-bronzed girl set the machine for 60 minutes instead of 6? What if I show up at the national conference looking like the Cryptkeeper?"

    As you've probably already surmised, I survived the ordeal. But when I got home, my cat Buffy started to obsessively lick my arm. I couldn't decide if she was trying to get high off the hemp or if I smelled like cooked meat.

    She always has been partial to baked chicken.