Sunday 25 August 2019

Confessions of a West Cork tanorexic

I am a different person in the sun, soon I am loping around like Bill Murray
I am a different person in the sun, soon I am loping around like Bill Murray
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

I know some people think I'm on the fake tan, or possibly the sunbeds.

I can tell by the way they ask me, in a slightly forward, nosey, but challenging kind of Cork way, "You've a great colour. Were you away?"

And I look them in the eye and tell them truthfully that I was. I don't mention to them that I mainly got my colour foostering around Ireland, and over the last weekend. That would be too much for them. They'd think I was lying. And then I'd have to explain to them that I take a reasonably good colour, West Cork DNA, which somehow got a bit of the Spanish Armada mixed up in there.

Indeed, I think I was born to live in the sun. I'm a different person in the sun. Give me a few days of it and my whole body loosens out. I start to slow down and unclench and soon I'm loping around the place like Bill Murray.

I think the lack of clothes help. I feel much more myself in fewer clothes. It's a trait I've passed onto my kids, who are essentially nudists. They can't wait to get home after a hard day at the coalface of school and playing, to get the clothes off and unwind.

I sometimes wonder if it's a bit vain to be wanting to have a tan at my age. And it's not really fashionable. But what's not to like? A tan is a very forgiving thing. It smooths off a lot of rough edges, whitens up the teeth naturally, improves the skin, and makes you thinner. It nearly even gives you a bit of definition. It's not a coincidence that all those bodybuilders plaster on the Ronseal.

And besides, and I know this is unfashionable too, I love to lie down in the sun, to feel that warmth on my bones.

It feels so right that it convinces me even more that I was meant to live in the sun. I wasn't born for this world. I am a man out of time and out of place. I should be called Stefano and be living in Southern Italy, maybe as a suave, slightly dodgy businessman in Dolce and Gabbana suits. Or maybe I should be Paco, an amiable olive farmer in Spain who has one small beer at lunchtime every day. Or perhaps I should be Henri, a controversial French academic who is also a lady-killer.

But I'm not, I'm here. And a tan for me will always be a temporary thing. I will always revert to being this pasty Irish stranger, this man who is not the real me.

Though I have high hopes for this summer. Wasn't last weekend just amazing? Usually when the sun comes it's mocking us as we sit in work, but to actually have it for a whole bank holiday. Wasn't it just too much? And, of course, now we take sunny weather for granted. We take it as our due. This is just how it is in Ireland these days. We have a Mediterranean climate.

I have to say that in tan-management terms the weekend was the dream for me. I had a base laid down already so that really topped it up. You'd walk to the shop and you'd be topped up.

I should explain that it's not that I lead some glamorous life where I get to show off a tan. It's not like I'm instagramming myself #lookatmytan, or wearing revealing dresses to glamorous events.

Admittedly I was at the IFTAs recently, but I was wearing my semi-plastic cheap tux which felt like being a boil-in-the-bag chicken.

But generally, I feel good. I feel somehow healthier, sturdier, more relaxed. I feel I am slightly living the fantasy of being my real self, a man who wears less clothes and lives in the sun.

Anyway, enjoy the weather, and maybe I'll see you out there. I'll be the man in the straw trilby, loping along like Bill Murray, living the dream, temporarily building up a tan, only for it all to disappear again. But in the moment, I'm living the dream.

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