Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Black & Tan

I have an irrational perception of myself.  I think I'm darker skinned than I actually am.  There I've said it; I've come clean.

I have suffered from this delusion for years, actually since high school.  When I was 17 and indoor lifeguarding I tended to spend my time dancing and singing at my station, especially if the pool was empty.  An older, attractive, brown-skinned gentleman would always come in during my shift and tell me, "You've got soul my Sister, soul."  In my mind that transferred to "You aren't so white, you are Black & Mild."  I wasn't just a pasty, white girl.

I wasn't aware of the iridescent pearl quality of my skin tone until a couple of years ago when my friend's father told me he was pretty sure that I could glow in the dark.  Even my boyfriend jokes that at night he doesn't need lights to find the bed, one leg peaking outside of my shorts acts as a navigational beacon of light shining his way home. 

I did not face my paleness as a problem until last week when I had my picture taken with Miss Ruby Wilson.  My boyfriend, J-squared, showed me the photo he had taken of the two of us.  I was in shock!  On Beale Street I exclaimed, "WHO is THAT WHITE GIRL in the picture?"  Naturally, it was me. I had to do something.

Even after many days outside I may have had a skin tone with a reflective quality.  To remedy the situation I spent three glorious days in the pool, sunning myself.

Yesterday and today at work if someone waved at me and said, "Hey Muffy,” I would respond with, "I'm surprised you recognized me with how dark I am.  I look like a whole different person. I'm practically black."  And I am.

When my Mom, The Silver Fox, got home from work this evening we sat down to dinner. While we were eating our ice cream I asked her, "How come you haven't commented on my tan?"

She looked kind of disgusted as she scanned my face and naked arms. I'm still wearing the tank top and sports bra from my run after work. Her eyes closed slowly and opened with equal determination.  She took a breath and exhaled as she said, "You're kinda orange. Why'd you get a spray tan?" 

"Seriously? A spray tan!  This is a real tan!"  I exclaimed across the table.

My Dad sat silently, oblivious to my darkness - I'm always his pretty, pretty princess.

The Silver Fox retorts, "What'd you do to yourself?"

"I was in the pool for three days!"

"Oh, well you are still kind of orange."

I guess when J-squared's youngest daughter tormented me by calling me an Oompa Loompa on Monday evening she wasn't joking.  She giggled as she told me how my skin is orange.  

I'm tan, damn-it!  TAN!!!!  Even if you don't see it, I'm still Black & Mild.