editors made me do it!
tanning virgin shares his dark experience
so many of my most embarrassing stories, this one begins
with me opening my mouth before thinking.
A handful of Skiff editors and I were brainstorming story
ideas for this page on tanning which is probably
facing your desk right now because youre busy doing
the crossword puzzle when it was suggested that
somebody who had never tanned before write a column about
their first time. (To go to a tanning salon get
your mind out of the gutter!)
Why dont you do it Brandon? our production
coordinator, Jenny Hall, says to me.
Stupid, Brandon. Stupid.
Oh he should do Mystic Tanning, says Features
Editor Catherine Pillsbury.
Like so many things involving the interests and habits
of women, I had no idea what that meant. Mystic
Tanning? I thought to myself. That must mean
the tan is mystically good.
So I agreed. Mystic Tanning it shall be.
Only later did I find out that its a sunless tanning
booth where you get sprayed with a solution that produces
a natural-looking tan. I was skeptical, to
say the least.
Weve all seen the sorority chicks who tried those
sunless tanning creams, only to wind up being covered
with uneven blotches of orange. I imagined a machine that
crudely blasts orange paint all over me and the
hell my ever-so-understanding friends would give me when
I explain why I look like a cheetah that rolled around
in bleach and paint thinner. Saying my editors made
me do it probably wouldnt pass as a good excuse.
But I couldnt get out of it. Theres a lot
of things that stink about being editor in chief. There
is a lot of emphasis on setting an example.
You cant skip work because you dont feel like
coming in, you cant show up hung over and you cant
weasel out of stories you promise to write.
I was screwed.
Sunday rolled around, and after fruitless hours trying
to think of excuses that would not make me look like a
slacker, or worse, a wimp, I gave in when Photo Editor
Sarah Chacko called to see if I was ready to go.
After Catherine, being ever so helpful, told
us where Palm Beach Tan is there went one excuse!
Chacko and I arrived.
We explained to the manager, Brian, why we were there.
Him being a nice guy (or cognizant of the benefits of
free publicity in a college newspaper), he agreed to let
us take before and after photos
at the booth.
But first I had to sign a consent form. I
perused it carefully, making sure there were no clauses
like We will not be held responsible if you end
up with pumpkin-colored skin. There werent,
but I did see that pregnant women shouldnt tan.
(If youve got something in the oven, you dont
want to overcook it, Brian tells me.) Luckily, Im
Next was a short test to see what skin type I have. I
must have got a bad grade, because I was soon forking
over $20 to fake tan.
When you write your article, you need to describe
it like it is really manly, Brian said.
Um, OK. I decided to pretend he didnt say that.
Soon I was watching an instructional video. As you can
imagine, it was about as entertaining as an instructional
video on how to change your spark plugs. The people who
make it apparently watch way too much Futurama.
It had a lot of sound effects that seemed as if they came
from space ships.
The narrator says what to do as an attractive blonde gets
ready for her fake tan. Some people, the narrator says,
may choose to cover their feet. Brian explains that some
people dont like having tanned feet. This struck
me as kind of weird, but I was always taught not to judge
other people, even those who date people with strange
There was probably a lot of stuff in the video that I
should have paid attention to, but I was distracted by
women in spandex and tiny shorts coming in to tan. I now
understood why a guy would work at a tanning salon.
Back to the video. The attractive blonde steps into the
booth and assumes the proper tanning position.
Most people go into these booths in the nude, but unfortunately
she left her bathing suit on. After fake tanning, she
walks out with nice unpumpkin-like bronze skin.
Experience of the booth
I am taken back to the Mystic Tan booth. I peeked into
the rooms to the see what tanning booths look like, because
I had never seen one before. They are best described as
large silver and blue caskets from the future. At any
moment I expected Scotty from Star Trek to
The Mystic Tan booth was large and blue. When the door
opened, it made a sssshhhh sound. (Once again,
think Star Trek.) It instantly reminded me
of the Orgasmatron in the Woody Allen classic Sleeper.
Its a large household appliance that you walk into
for, well, instant pleasure.
Sadly, the Mystic Tan booth was not nearly as fun.
After Chacko took the before photos, I shut
the door to the room so I could undress and get ready
to fake tan.
I reluctantly step into the booth. After struggling to
figure out how to shut the door, I assume the tanning
position, press the button and quickly close my
eyes. Nothing happens.
I press it again and rush to get back into place. Once
again, nothing. I finally figure out that its not
a button at all, but a sensor I have to run my finger
I hurriedly get back into the proper position as the booth
tells me, in a womans voice, it will start spraying
in five seconds. I squint my eyes, and the chemical mist
finally hits me.
Man was it cold and stinky.
It was so cold that Im very thankful that no one
walked in while I was undressed and frozen. The laughter
would have scarred me.
The booth tells me to turn around, and it sprays my back
side. And like that, its done. I still had my eyes
closed when I stumbled to leave the machine.
I towel the solution off, which, much to my relief, is
not orange paint. I actually felt like I had been at the
beach all day. My skin felt like it has been in the sun
and it had a stickiness that was like cheap sun screen
the only kind I buy mixed in with sweat.
After I get dressed, Chacko snaps after photos.
We notice no change whatsoever, but were told we
wont start seeing results for another four hours.
We would have to take the pictures later.
And the results are in...
My skin didnt turn orange. And the tan was actually
fairly even except for part of my right arm that
wasnt in the proper position.
(That said, the cool part about tanning in the nude is
that, for the first time ever, I have a tanned butt. I
thought about asking Chacko to take a picture of it for
this story, but, fearing a sexual harassment lawsuit,
I decided not to.)
The tan actually turned out pretty good, but its
not real dark. If I want to be darker, Ill have
to fake tan again which, at $20 a pop, is probably
the point. Nice little racket they have going here.
As I walked out of the tanning salon, only to see more
cute chicks coming in, it hit me.
Im in the wrong business.
in Chief Brandon Ortiz claims we made him
do it. We think he was hoping tanner skin
would add definition to his muscles.