Adventures Family

Burn, baby, burn

The last really bad sunburn I got was about five years ago. Well, prior to last week.

The one five years ago was a doozy, and my entire family got scorched at the beach.

Now, you’d think, “Hey, Mike – isn’t sunscreen something that, you know, every single person on the planet knows you should take to the beach, especially if your family is comprised of fair skinned people who will turn the color of a fire hydrant if exposed to direct sunlight for about five minutes?”

The answer is yes. And we did have sunscreen. Lots of it. And applied it frequently throughout the day. And apparently we would have been just as protected had we just rubbed some of the seawater on us.

On that day, we learned that sunscreen goes bad. This was a reliable brand we had used for years, but apparently this bottle was kaput.

So we are pretty diligent about keeping our sunscreen fresh. Every year, we restock our sunscreen supply, and we have been sunburn free since then. Until last week.

Hey, fun fact – it doesn’t matter how effective your sunscreen is if you don’t use it.

This was my fault and my fault alone, and I accept full responsibility. And now I will give you the reasons why it was not my fault and blame other factors, thereby shirking any and all responsibility.

My son and I were going to meet my dad and some folks about three hours away to tromp in the woods looking for critters.

I had set all of our stuff out the night before, as we were going to have to get up early to leave. But I was doing this at night. And it was cold. So sunscreen didn’t come onto my radar. My wife had gone to bed when I was getting stuff ready, so I think we can all agree she shares some blame in this. Yes? Hello? Anyone?

The next morning, we left before the sun came up. And it was still cold. And my wife had not woken up yet, so I think we can all agree she shares more blame in this. Yes? Hello? Anyone?

When the sun began to rise, I realized that I had forgotten something. No, not the sunscreen. My sunglasses. I hate being without sunglasses when I am driving, but we were too far down the road at this point. Power through it, I figured.

We arrived at our destination and I realized I had forgotten another item. No, not sunscreen. Ball caps. When I’m going to be out in the sun, I always try to wear a cap, as does my son. He was half asleep when I put him the car, but I still think we can all agree he shares blame in this. Yes? Hello? Anyone?

I dug through my trunk and found a baseball cap in there for him to wear. I would just try to change my position throughout the day, avoiding too much sun on one spot at a time, which dermatologists will tell you is probably one of the dumber ways to avoid a sunburn.

Around noon, my dad turned to me and said, “You’re getting a little red there. Did you not bring a hat? Or sunscreen?” “No, dad,” I said, suddenly becoming 11 again.

One of the other people in our group had some sunscreen, which I applied liberally, although I knew this was pretty much akin to taping an aspirin to your head after several hours of a headache.

I sprayed my son down as well, although I was pleased that the hat had done him some good. His neck and his right ear had not fared so well. Clearly, he was not rotating himself as well as I was, or his left ear could have bore the brunt of some of it.

So here we are a day after, and my face and neck feel like they’re 8,000 degrees. My son’s neck and right ear are fried, but the aloe seems to be abating that.

I will remember this incident and make sure it doesn’t happen again. And if I do stumble, I think we can all agree others share some blame in this. Yes? Hello? Anyone?

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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