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Thursday, August 4, 2011

How About a Little Fire, Scarecrow?

The theme these days is being burned. My aide came to work with one of the worst sunburns I've seen since I fried at Seaside Heights in 197...5? 6? Luckily NancyDance had given me a huge aloe vera plant and she coated herself in it. It was painful to look at. Such a deep bright red and so tight you could feel the skin screaming in your own body.

It sure seems odd that we'd stay outdoors all day when I was a kid and never get burned. Of course, the air pollution over NYC then was so thick it was visible from the highways leading in. A huge gray smog cloud perched vulturelike over the city. Seeing it, when coming home from trips upstate, meant we were 45 minutes from Brooklyn. So perhaps we were sheltered from the UV rays. There were no SPFs in those days. People rubbed oils and lotions on themselves to attract more sun. These days the sun feels much more intense. I'm dead-chicken white-skinned and had sun poisoning several times. Even sitting around outside I feel the sun prickling my skin like teeny thistles within a few minutes and know it's time to get shade. I don't tan, I burn. Which is fine because I don't want my skin to look like Samsonite anyway.

And there have been cooking burns. My greatniece's hand and arm were burned in a microwaved-butter accident just yesterday. Which brings the number of bad burns I've heard about in 5 days to 4- all from nuking food. Another reason I hate microwaves. In cooking burns (I've still got scars on my arms) if you don't cool the skin down and keep it cool your flesh will continue cooking. Cold water soaks are the best way, and I remember the many times wet sidetowels flapped around my hand or arm as I went on cooking.

But when I was a child the common "cures" used for burns were horrible. Butter. Butter? Hey, meat's cooking, better baste it! Noxzema skin cream? Sure, put drying astringent on it! Baby oil? Similar fry technique with a pretty smell. Then there were several marketed sunburn sprays and creams, all of which felt good when you first put it on, and dried to an unholy hell in 2 minutes. What were people thinking?  Even Dorothy knew to put water on the burning scarecrow.

 

8 comments:

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

When I was a teenage *(y'know, back in the dark ages)we used to slather ourselves in a mixture of baby oil and iodine. No wonder I used to fry to a crisp.

Austan said...

My brother used baby oil and iodine in Vietnam- came back quite brown. Yep, he's had several skin cancers removed.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

My husband got much too brown in Nam, but he didn't put anything on his skin. (which is probably why he gets sun poison every year) He was a grunt, and they were very aware of the necessity of avoiding any scent the VC might pick up on, so they didn't even use bug repellent.

Austan said...

My brother was a paratrooper in Special Forces. I don't think they cared about being smelled. :)

Lisa said...

I burn myself all the time on the toaster oven. My oven mitt actually caught fire a few weeks ago. :/ Mom always used butter or Crisco on burns when I was growing up. And we used baby oil when tanning... Set up a small kiddie pool with the lounge chair over it, so you'd get the sun reflecting back. Smart, huh?

Austan said...

In our short lifetimes so much has changed and become obsolete, and most of that is a good thing. But jeez, watch that toaster oven!

annieoatcake said...

I'd really like to comment fully on this post, but I just drank two glasses of wine and I'm pished (I'm a light weight) and I've dinner to make and my aunt to visit and my daughter to reprimand for being a maniac and... and... other stuff. Great to meet you, Laura. Looking forward to catching up with ALL of your posts!

Austan said...

Oh yeah, what a drag to get so quickly sozzled now. Where'd our stamina go? Why, I used to...
:)
We'll always have the 70s and 80s to remember.
Very very happy to chat with you. Have a lovely evening, wherever it takes you.