I've never been one of those people who tans.  I think this comes from having been a very fat child starting around age twelve and feeling that my body was something to suffer through, not something to show off in even the most casual of manners.  In fact, when I started doing shows and discovered that most dressing rooms were big communal areas where men dressed and undressed in front of each other, quickly and efficiently, I was terrified.

I've never really minded being pale, though.  It's part of who I am and it's assertive in it's hold on me, meaning that I do not tan easily, being from Irish and Welsh stock.  Plus, avoiding the sun mixed with moisturization has kept me looking relatively young, which is one of the benefits.  And whenever I felt a little pasty I could always tell myself, "After all, Marilyn never tanned, would openly shun the sun,  and she was one of the most beautiful women in the world!" It was as if, by not tanning, I was one step closer to acheiving immortality.  At least that's what I old myself. 

The one thing I do regret, is that my skintone is not as even as everyone elses, my neck, face and arms are relatively tan, and that cuts off right around chest level, fading to pale.  I did a publicity photos for a show I'm working on currently, in which I play a chicken terrorized by the possibility of the processing machine, and it required showing a lot of leg.  Upon reviewing the picture, someone said "He has great legs.  Is he wearing white tights???"  Ummmm, no.

Solutions to this problem?  Well, there's always prolonged exposure to the sun, but I've always been a burner, and witnessing the searing sunburn my cousin experienced when we were around twelve, I knew I would never want to go through that.  Tanning bed?  Hells, no.  I've heard enough about them to keep me away.  Plus, I recently had a body scan and some abnormal cells were found under a mole.  They were removed and everything's fine, but I want to avoid the procedure again in the future.  I did try the lotions you by from the drugstore, but application is difficult, and they streak and leave you looking "drippy".  Mystic Tan?  Well, I'd tried it before and it seemed to work and was worth another try.  Besides, I had a free one left over from a two session pass I had purchased a few months ago.  Mystic Tan it would be!

I went in yesterday after work to the place across the street from my office.  I had exfoliated that morning which I'd been told would help keep the solution on for a little longer than a week.  The guy behind the counter should be the poster child for sunless tanning.  Lean, mid twenties, thick-black and tossled hair, almond shaped blue eyes, an over all tan, and a bewildered expression.  The expression was largely do to the line of four people that had formed in front of him as a small and "voluptuous" woman with bleach blonde hair talked assertively in his general direction and chatted with a man who seemed to be the manager.  She seemed friendly enough, but she was exactly what you do not want to be:  the seasoned, over blonde, over tanned, "coconut and lime" scented.  When she turned around I could see that sunless tanning was not the only thing she liked to do to enhance her physical appearance. 

After she made up her mind about all the "Power boosts", primers, scents and accelerators she wanted added to her potion, the line went pretty quickly and I stood before the poster child.  He was friendly enough, and I knew that if I wasn't careful I could easily lay down extra money on all the upgrades he was reccommending, so I steeled myself and kept the extras down to one lotion that was supposed to make the color look a little more natural.  I selected "Level 1", the lightest level and went into Room 11.  I had chosen to do the Versa Spa rather than the Mystic Tan, which is again supposed to make you look a little less orange.  I love Barry Manilow, but I do not want my skin to be his shade of citrus. 

I realize as I'm standing in the room by myself, naked as a shelled clam, that I don't really remember what I'm supposed to do from this point.  Lotion the fingers, nails, palms of your feet and palms of your hands.  Done.  Put on this blue cloth cap.  This part was a little more difficult.  The cap was oval shaped, a little tight, and I couldn't tell why it had a mate next to it until I turned and saw the much larger, white shower cap.  I was apparently wearing a blue booty on my head.  Whoops.  I peeled the booty off and put it on my foot, it's mate joined it momentarily.  Next I put on the lotion I'd bought, getting it everywhere except for the small of my back, which I couldn't reach no matter how I contorted myself.  Then I stood in the machine and pressed the green button.  The moment of truth.

A mechanical female voice said "Get into position 1".  Position 1???????  What was that?  I craned my head to view the chart on the wall, but couldn't find position 1 in time.  I leapt into what I hoped I remembered correctly from 4 months ago being position 1.  Then Position 2, 3, and 4, moving into positions that resembled "walk like an Egyptian", and before I knew it, I was sprayed, finished, and left feeling a little like those women in "Gold Finger" who are all painted up and dead from lack of skin ventilation.  When I stepped out and checked the mirror, I couldn't see anything yet because I'd chosen the "clear" option as opposed to the Extra Bronzer, but I could smell it all right.  So home I went. 

My roommates and I hung out and snacked and watched television, and about four hours later, I could see the results.  Mild, but definitely there.  The toning is even, not at all orange, and while no one would mistake me for George Hamilton, I'm not pasty.  Which makes the procedure a success in my mind.  Will I make it a weekly habit?  Time will tell. 

In the meantime, I have a busy weekend ahead including a wedding and a party/benefit called the Rubber Duck Party which benefits Aids Services of Austin, followed by a rehearsal for a Cabaret to benefit the Zilker Summer Musical, and a birthday party for my little cousin.   Will report back later.