36 SPF (500 words)

Because I’m the oldest, I often act like a smarty pants to my brother and younger cousins. Very reluctantly, I admit that sometimes my know-it-all attitude gets me into humble predicaments. This is one of them…

“Sis, did you put on sunscreen?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Well, you’ve been in the sun for a while, and you looking kinda dark, almost crispy.”

I reply sharply the way bossy older sisters do, “So!  I want to get tan. I’m too pale! That’s why I’m laying out, Duh!”

“Ok,” Garrick says meekly and takes the cards I dealt him, virtually and literally. We play and joke through a few more hands of rummy.

He says with some concern, “Sis, I really think you should put on more sunscreen. You starting to crack.”

“Shaddup! I used to tan like this all the time in high school. I know what I’m doing,” I say as I sit up. I always try to sit in a position of power when dealing with younger siblings and cousins.

“Sis, you should go look at your shoulders,” Garrick urges.  “It looks like you’re getting sunburn.”

“I’m Filipino.  I don’t burn,” I say laughing. Garrick does not chime in. Since I can tell he is genuinely concerned, I try to lessen his fretfulness. “Don’t worry,” I say with my most comforting big-sister voice. “I have 36 SPF sunscreen and I’ve only been out a couple hours. This stuff lasts 36 hours!” I’m surprised by Garrick’s vexed look of confusion. “What!” I say as I reach over and slug him on his shoulder trying to shake that weird look off his face.

“Sis, did you say 36 hours?”

“Yes, that’s what the bottle said.”

“You might want to look at that again,” he says and then shrinks back to avoid another sisterly slug.

Now I’m irritated at his worrying and whining, so I stomp off to the bathroom to get the bottle of sunscreen.  “See! 36 SPF!!” I say as I point to the bottle.

“Sis, there isn’t even 36 hours in a day. Why would they make a sunscreen you can use overnight?”

“What the heck!” He might have a point. I start reading the directions and suddenly realize what an idiot I’ve been–Apply generously before sun exposure and reapply often and after swimming. What makes it worse is that I used to work in cosmetics and preached the virtues of sunscreen. I must have just had a major brain fart.

As I start to realize the errors of my ways, I also notice that my shoulders and back really do look and feel as Garrick described — CRISPY.  Too late!

“Oh my goodness, Garrick! Why didn’t you say something?”

“Um, well Sis, I tried…”

“Never mind!  Go get me some lotion!!”

“Sis, you probably gonna peel.”

“Well, you should have warned me sooner.”

Big sisters–we generally are smarter and are usually right.  This is one of the times I was not.  Garrick never lets me forget it, too.


Talk story

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