The Goddesses Faire and Tawney had an argument between themselves when I was born.
"She will be blonde haired, with bright blue eyes, and skin as white as snow, with an adorable pink and purple map of veins," Faire declared.
"Are you kidding? She needs a tan! I'm okay with the blonde haired blue eyed thing, but don't ruin her life at the outset with skin that looks like the underbelly of a fish, Faire!" groused Tawney. "Her gene pool has dark hair and tanned skin. Let her be like them."
Faire was undeterred. "But I wish for this one to be round, and pink and cuddly, like a pet pufferfish."
Tawney had strolled off to endow another of my cousins with the Irish ruddy coloring my family sports: black curly hair, blue eyes, and golden tan skin. Before she could return, Faire touched me with her pale finger, and voila!
Pink Pet Pufferfish Pamela was born.
For the rest of my life, PPPP-- Pamela for short-- burned my skin in the burning white sands of Gulf Shores, crisping to a fine shade of rouge . But my wails of pain were heard by Tawney, who looked down from the sunny heavens one day, and took pity on me.
"I shall sprinkle my kisses on you ," she said. And voila again! I was graced with freckles.
As I entered my teens, I attempted the artificial coloring of QT, resulting in an orange hue unbecoming with my maroon school uniform.
In college, hoping to make the freckles run together, I slathered on shortening to bake myself in the sun, but only succeeded in making the freckles pop out in darker relief over the red background.
Entering my mmphms, I discovered Tan in a Can (and Tube). I bought a spray gun that looked like something Princess Leia wielded. Reading how to articles in every womens' magazine, I stood in a shower stall, and sprayed myself with an artificial tincture of Tawney's blessing to the rest of my family.
Never mind that the palm of my hand was unrecognizable after smoothing the drips on my legs.
Or that a long skinny line ran like a brown tear down my back.
I was finally tan! And my vein roadmap was camoflaged!
Delighted, I danced around the bathroom....
Leaving brown footprints all over the floor and the pristine white bathmat.
And when I pointed out my lovely tan-from-a-can to my teenaged sons with glee, they said, "Something smells funny." And, "Why are your knees so dark, Mom?"
Husband asked, "What's with the manicure there? Some new style?"
"Oh well," I thought, "at least the pufferfish in the ocean won't be trying to remember if I'm a long lost relative of theirs."
And off I went on vacation.
With lots of long white pants.