The perils of being pale

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Madeline Rockhold

O'Driscoll's pale hue requires constant sunscreen application and restricts him from enjoying the sunny weather.

I always consider it a success when I venture back to my house after a long, hot Minnesota summer day unscathed by the unforgiving sun. While most of the population strives to obtain an oh-so alluring tan, there are people that have given up on all hope of reaching the coveted golden glow. I am one of these people—genetically sabotaged by my Irish heritage and fated to freckles and frustration. So, understandably, when I travelled to sunny Florida for Spring Break 2014, I prepared for an all-out battle between the beams of death that some people call “the sun” by arming myself with SPF 100 sunscreen that I had recently purchased at Walgreens on 54th and Lyndale—the one by Aerobic With Soul.

Lucky for me, the weather in Florida was excellent, overcast but still warm, subpar on everyone else’s standards. When I took to the dark blue ocean waters to swim, the adjacent vacationers had to deal with momentary blindness after I took off my shirt. Fortunately enough for my self-esteem, the majority of the people on any given Floridian beach are retired and over 60. After being convinced to go parasailing at night, I was later informed that people had seen a shooting star flying through the black sky. I’d like to think it was a coincidence, but I’m skeptical.

I spent my week with sunscreen by day and Aloe Vera by night—a continuous cycle that left me exhausted and with enough nutrients to birth an aloe plant. Without fail, in every tourist-filled town we stopped at, the familiar question of, “You’re in Florida, how are you so pale?” came about. To which I replied, “I’m not pale, I’m pearly. There’s a difference,” with a feigned and deflated sense of confidence.

Arriving back from a spring break that went by much too fast, it seemed as though the vast majority of my classmates were as tan as Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. When asking one of my particularly sun-kissed (well, based on his skin tone he and the sun probably did a little more than kissing) friends to what lush resort or paradise he had ventured to, they replied, “Cleveland.” Alright, sweet, I give up.