A tanner shade of pale: the magic of UV rays

By Jamie Santoro
March 14, 2011

On Saturday, I found myself lying buck naked in a tanning bed. As I sang the Selena classic “Dreaming of You” out loud and to myself, I wondered how I got there.

I like being tan. The tight feeling of your skin, the sun on your face and, let’s be honest, you look and feel skinnier. My Italian heritage keeps me relatively olive-skinned year round, but in the summer my childhood nickname of “brown bear” holds true. Six years of lifeguarding only added to my pleasant hues.

The winter months grow long, or should I say pale. My palest shades are darker than most but I do miss the suns effect on me. Tan people are happy people. There is a solution though and many Cabrinians know that.

Tanning is a trend that goes further back than “The Jersey Shore.” Usually it was reserved for special occasions or more torturous events, like prom. Now it has become a more frequent activity.

I know those of you who are tan-a-holics. Luckily not many on campus are at an orange-threat level of tanning. There are some of you, and you know who you are.

My roommate, junior Peter Morrison, is not one of those people. He does however want to be tan for his birthday, understandably. He recently invested in a tanning subscription at Metro Tans in Bryn Mawr.

That fateful Saturday afternoon Peter was going tanning and me, sitting on my bed with nothing better to do than a pile of very pressing homework, went along for the ride.

During the drive over I aired my curiosities about tanning. Peter suggested I try it. My first thought was, “I did not go to the gym and don’t really have any laundry to do after.”

My main curiosity was on what you wear while tanning. “Well you can wear underwear if you want or just go nude.” Something about having a tan butt really appealed to me.

We arrived at the salon and Peter went right in, gave his name, a machine scanned his fingerprint, and he went back to the beds. Okay, I’ll back up. You read that right, a scanner for your fingerprint. I guess it stores his information that way? Robots will take over starting with the tanning salons and quickly moving to international satellite systems.

My turn. The attendant working was nice. She was the kind of pretty that makes you think Adriana Lima from a distance but is more Monica Lewinski up close. She looked like the kind of girl to have an affair with an older congressman.

She brought good news, though. Since it was my first time, I went level one for free. I don’t know what level one means either but that’s what Peter told me to do.

“Oh darn, you’ll have to wait for your friend to get out if you want to do level one,” she said.

“Really? Whats the next option?”

“Well, we could go to level two for three more dollars?!” She said pointing to a fairly daunting chart in between us. Supposedly you could go up to level four. Something about the levels gave me a Scientology vibe. Did Xenu have a hand in making these beds? Will my thetan get tan too?

Anyway I decide instead of waiting, I’ll go to level two for 5 minutes. I was originally going to level one for 10 minutes so to me it made sense. Afterward I was told multiple times from multiple people that I am sorely mistaken. My friend Kourtney even exclaimed, “Eight minutes for you first time, everyone knows that.” False, Kourtney. I did not know this.

Adriana Lewinski led me back through the zigzag halls of the surprising large facility. In room seven I found my bed. Seemed simple enough, but I’ve never seen one in real life, a tanning bed that is. It was basically a panini press, but for people.

She gave me the run down, none of which I understood, and left me to it. There are a surprising amount of buttons involved in artificial tanning.

So I stripped down to an uncomfortable level of vulnerability and turned on the machine. I was quickly blinded and momentarily regretting not getting the protective eye wear. But only momentarily, it was two stickers to put on your eyes for like four bucks. I’ll take the eye problems later in life and save the cash.

So finally I hopped in and… nothing. It was a bit warm. There was a fan but it was too loud to keep in use. I guess I expected something else.

I drifted out of consciousness out of shear boredom, and next thing I know the bed is off and I’m done. I hop up and get dressed.

Wow. I stood up and was so relaxed. The sun has a resting effect, doesn’t it? Well so do UV lamps. I felt like I just had the best nap ever. What was this magical device and where did it get its powers?

I consider the tanning craze to be a major part of my generation. It’s not something I plan on doing often, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did it again. The chances of skin cancer do not outweigh the amazing feeling after. Tanning is just something I feel like I had to experience.

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Jamie Santoro

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