Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Burn Risk

I got a call yesterday from the tanning salon informing me that they'd made a billing mistake before I axed my account so they owed me a free month of what they call "Unlimited Bronzing" but I've found is closer to "Accidentally Scorching Yourself". I hung up feeling like I'd just drawn the Community Chest card that said there'd been a bank error in my favor, assuming that WaMu could give me a cantaloupe-sized melanoma.

Of course I immediately went to collect my complimentary incineration and was greeted by an impossibly-muscled dude with skin tanned the shade of a perfectly-toasted Pop Tart and an over-gelled platinum hairstyle, his long bangs swept forward in the style of land-locked Hollister shoppers, late 70's David Bowie and less-fashionable lesbians. He was probably younger than the Joshua Tree tour shirt I was wearing but that didn't stop me from doing my best imitation of flirting while I pulled my velcro wallet open and handed him my ID. "How long do you want to go today?", he asked, flashing a set of gleaming mah-jong tile teeth.

"The fewest minutes possible. I'm so white that Cruella de Vil wants to kill me for my fur," I replied, because I am the master of sexytalk.

He'd written "E-Dog" on his sunshine-shaped name tag and while I waited for him to clean my Personal Tanning Station, I mentally decorated the basement apartment we'd rent together and was trying to explain why a drawing of Bob Marley with pot leaf-shaped hands wasn't art when he interrupted to tell me it was time for my UV-rich broiler nap. "Thank you," I told him, trying to tilt my head to the one angle that doesn't make my twice-broken nose look like a crumpled tube of Aquafresh.

He smiled. My knees locked mid-buckle when the words "No worries, ma'am" fell out of his mouth.


I am TWENTY NINE years old and will be for another 55 days, seven hours and 32 minutes.1 I know I've looked less-than-awesome lately, especially since earlier in the day a friend dropped the dreaded "You look tired" on me, which is the polite way of saying "You look like you sleep in a dumpster." Also my allergies to all carbon-based life forms mean that for the next few weeks, my eyes will be swollen to the size of the Insert Coin slot on a soda machine while my voice sounds like a less-feminine Bea Arthur.2

NONE OF THAT, however, makes me an effing ma'am. I couldn't spill any of that to E-Dog but as I walked toward my six minutes in my Personal Tan Station at the end of the hall, I packed up his blacklight and boardshorts and the goddamn acoustic guitar he'd drag to parties and threw them all into the parking lot of the place we'd never live.

1 I have no plans on going gently into 30, instead choosing to punch it repeatedly in the face as it drags me into another decade. That said, anyone who purchases any 30-themed novelty balloons for me on June 2 should go ahead and schedule a colonoscopy for the next day because it's going to take professionals to pull all that mylar out of your ass.
2 I apologize if that gave anyone an ill-timed boner.

I'm going to see Robyn Hitchcock tonight so I'm practically itchy with excitement. This is the second time I've seen him in the past two months--and on the second different continent, which doesn't make me seem Hinckley-levels of unhinged at all. If you've read my site(s) at all, you know I could easily spew a thousand words about how much I appreciate his love of language, his singular brand of weirdness-spiked brilliance and the way his work has shaped my worldview, like the stake to my mind's tomato plant.3 Also? Dig his sideburns.

For reals though, I'll say this: in a career spanning thirty-odd years--with the accent firmly on the odd--he's not once sacrificed his authenticity or compromised his style in exchange for seeing his name in ten point font on the Billboard chart. As he says in the opening track to his most recent release "It doesn't matter what you was/It's what you is/And what you is/Is what you are". To my ears, it's an important sentiment, especially since so many of the bands currently littering the airwaves are shitty products with superior packaging, just like hotel shampoos, Vin Diesel flicks and novelty condoms. So crumble that into your Katy Perry poster and smoke it...I'll be the one at the Cat's Cradle tonight, singing along with "Adventure Rocket Ship" and digging every minute of it.

That's what I is.

3 His song "Belltown Ramble" drops the line "It's an independent life/And you want to see your eyes/Reflected in the world". Whether intentionally or not, I like to think I'm part of that reflection an--OK, I SWEAR I'M DONE WITH THE ROBYN REFERENCES.


The Lily said...

I've found through personal experience that 30 is best faced (not celebrated) drunk on a beach. Makes the rest of this god-awful decade... No there is no easing this decade. It fucking sucks.

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

I remember turning 30 all too well. It involved a lot of tears, mind-numbing alcoholic beverages, and a trip to Mexico.

Darlene said...

I still remember the first time someone called me ma'am. I was 28 and he was...I dunno...12 and worked as a valet at the Holiday Inn. In my mind I ran over him as I left the hotel. That was 9 years ago and if you think 30 stinks? I'm NOT looking forward to 40. I run, but I'm no marathon runner. I've always been injury free. These days? Not so much.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Wow, we're the same age! We should totally hang out! (Or should if we didn't live in different countries and if I wasn't terrified of real people)

Kelsey said...

I hate the "you look tired" comment! It's just another way of saying "you look like shit today"

Sigh. -Kelsey
Insert Idiom Here

repliderium.com said...

"late 70's David Bowie and less-fashionable lesbians."
I fucking love you.
ps- I found that staying drunk for the first part of your 30's- until say, 36? 37? helps A LOT!

Mojito said...

Having recently turned 30 myself, I have to admit it isn't as bad as I'd dreaded, save for the douche-bag that chuckled to himself and said, "No, that's okay." when I offered up my ID for the drink I ordered after he had CLEARLY forgotten to card me.

Karla said...

As the token senior citiszen of your commenters, I feel it's my duty to inform you that there will come a day when you not only appreciate being called ma'am - you'll demand it. ikr? But it's true.

Karla said...

Crap... citizen.

golublog said...

tanning salons always make me feel like im in a strange tomb.

Mike said...

I've been in the general vicinity of females the first time they've been called "ma'am". It's a scary place to be.

inflammatory writ said...

I cannot tan, because I am so pale I would literally implode like a supernova.

I am 27.5 years old and 30 scares the fuck out of me. However, I have already been called "Ma'am" so I guess I got that part over with.

Michael said...

As always, hysterical.

But I must meekly assert that I have been in retail for more years than I care to admit. "Ma'am" is not a reflection of age. From the very first day I was working with customers, I have used "Ma'am" or "young lady" on all women, from 8 to 88.

"Ma'am" also means respect, not just age.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Look, on June 2nd you're merely celebrating the 1st anniversary of your 29th birfday. 'Nuff said.

emmysuh said...

Man, that's one of the downsides of living in the South, we're trained to say ma'am but then one day the TABLES TURN and HOLY FUCK I'm 22 and someone just ma'am-ed ME!!

I kill those bitches. I kill those bitches dead.

Lisa-Marie said...

I work in a shop, and I'm often called ma'am. My personal hate is when people younger than me refer to me as 'the till woman'.

In all seriousness though, you look about 19.

alexis said...

I hate Ma'am!!!! I'm 26 and I get it all the freakin' time!!

Don't worry J, you don't look a day over 24!

Perfectly Shelly said...

You are itchy from your TANNING session, hon!! hahaha--it's not often that I can come back with a cutsey somewhat funny comeback!!!!

And don't worry, you look awesome. I'm 43 and got carded REGULARLY until a few yrs ago. So, you'll be fine as a 30 yr old.

UNLESS you keep tanning, then you'll look like a raisin by the time you are 32. Really.

I tell this to my 18 yr old son that is really quite handsome (hey, I know I'm his mom, but he really is.....ask anyone....or go to my blog and LOOK.....)I'd hate for his replicated David Beckham guardian angel tattoo slide into the crack of his ass by the time HE's 40........just sayin.

That's my motherly advice for today.

I'll go back to totally dating you (if I were available, and a lesbian) tomorrow. Kay?

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

I wish I was turning 30 in 55 days, seven hours and 32 minutes.

I wish I was turning 40 in 55 days, seven hours and 32 minutes.

But this post isn't about me, it's about YOU. I loved this post. As usual, you have cracked me the hell up!

cappy said...

Turning 30? No big deal, especially since you've got your trusty velcro wallet. Nobody will believe you are a day over 12 years old as long as you've got it.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

So you like Robyn Hitchcock?

That's an interesting fact to know about you, ma'am.

How do you feel about Sinatra because a lot of ma'ams like him too. I hear!

(By the way ma'am. I am KIDDING because I'm old enough to be your ... um... Joshua Tree tour shirt, at least. Please don't ban me from your site!)

Kate said...

Of course I hate "Ma'am," too. But what's worse is being called "Young Lady" by someone who's your own age! (Back when I was not quite 30!)

Jaymie said...

27 days,5 hours and 22 minutes.

And I just found out I'm preggers, so I can't even "celebrate" turning 30, the way I want..

Enjoy the (almost) month you have up on me. :)

Underfunded Heiress said...

Don't worry about the Ma'am, I think a lot of guys use it and don't know that the word is meant for an older women. I think they just think it's respectful....Unless he's a teenager than he really does think your old.

I get Ma'am once in awhile and always question it and feel depressed. But although I've hit 30, I still look like I'm in my 20's so I don't get it a second thought and neither should you. :)


Martin said...

I apologize if that gave anyone an ill-timed boner.No, it didn't. But I did spit my drink on the screen. Funny shit.