The Lab: Part One

In The 70's on August 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm


It’s so hot this summer, it’s almost unbearable. The roads undulate in visible waves as the tar cooks in the sun. There’s a haze in the air, a sticky film of gray, and everyone is sweating and irritable. At night, down at the beach,  mosquitoes land on our arms and legs, the sound of constant slapping  from our manic attempts to kill them as they settle in to feast. Our beers grow warm minutes after they are pulled from coolers, where they lay in melting ice and water. Long hair is lifted off of our necks and piled atop our heads in loose buns, or under bandanas. Guys shun shirts altogether, and girls  favor bikini tops, though the less brazen among us wear unbuttoned shirts over them.


I have the entire month of August off. I start my part time job at my father’s insurance agency as soon as I get my school schedule. I have a little money to get me through, but I will have to be very frugal. I decide to work on a tan as a way of getting through the days when most of my friends are at work. It’s cheap and vain, and therefore has instant appeal. There is a postage stamp sized grass area behind my mom’s apartment, where during the hours of 10 and 2, the sun’s UVA rays cut through the trees, enough so to do some (sexy) damage.  There is just enough room for a blanket, an aluminum lounge chair and my boom box.  My Mom just bought a a new pile of hardcovers for us-I’ll read ‘Mommie Dearest’, and browse ‘The Scarsdale Diet’. I grab my tube of Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee ….which promises me a ‘St. Tropez tan’ even if I’m baking behind a brick building…

Of course, I’m trying not to eat, so as to lose more weight before school starts and before I see ‘Foxy’ again. I’m not fat, but I want my bones to poke out at even sharper angles. JJ says he can get me some black beauties-and that if I take them I’ll never be hungry. Where have they been all of my life? I make a note to call him tonight with the go-ahead.

Exotic, behind-the-apartment- building tan….

And so I lay out, and the days drag…it’s strange being home all day when everyone is at work- there is a tedium that borders on torture, as if I’m existing on a blank piece of white paper.  The sun is playing peek-a-boo, darting behind the trees and clouds, causing me to move my chair at all different angles, every fifteen minutes or so. Fifteen minutes that feel like an hour. I’m greasy with tanning jelly-(excuse me- gelee!) and give up by one o’clock And here I vowed to hang to 3! (Later, when I step out of the shower I’ll be thrilled to see that I am much tanner than I appeared to be while out in the sun)  I consider squirting lemon juice on my hair next time. (I block out the ‘Sun-In Disaster of ’73!’ Yellow hair was not my friend-but for no reason whatsoever I decide this time will be different. I make hair decisions like I make dating decisions)

I pick my Mom up at work at 5:30, crawling up Route 7 in the five o’clock traffic. The Caddy is in the shop, getting brakes and  new tires, so I’m driving Mom’s Gold Duster. There’s only an am radio,and listening to it causes my standards to go way down. There’s so much disco and schmaltz (and commercials! Rrrrrrace-way Park! Crazy Eddie’s! Seventy-Seven-Double-U-A-B-C!) that when a mediocre song like Styx’s ‘Renegade’ or Foreigner’s ‘Hot Blooded’ comes on-which would never make my list- but now I’m almost grateful, because at least it’s trying to rock.

“Aren’t you brown!”  says  Mom, looking me over as she gets in the car, dressed in her navy work blazer and sunflower brooch. I’m glad she notices-it means everyone else will. She says she’s ordered a pizza (‘I certainly can’t cook in this humidity!’ she states as fact) so we stop off and pick it up. I have a slice and am dying for another one, so I sneak two bites off another slice: bites don’t count.  JJ has already called, and I’m going to pick him up. He says he has the Black Beauties-obviously these will magically cure my body issues, so yay! I get to use the Duster, even though my Mom doesn’t understand why I can’t ‘just stay in every once in awhile, for goodness sake!’ This doesn’t even make sense to me- why would I ever do that?



  1. At least you were skin-saavy even back then, my tan friend .I, for sure, thought you’d have your double-live album of a mediocre band wrapped in foil, with you,drenched in baby oil. I remember sitting by my friend Cindy’s in-ground pool (with slide…my dream! I only had a little above ground!) and using HER Bain du Soleil..and I broke out in bumps!!!I was allergic! So, Im a Hawaiian Tropic gal (Daytona Beach in DA HOUSE!) I don’t blame your mother for not SLAVING over a hot stove….all that beef and noodles everyone craved….of course, Modugno’s doesnt exist anymore..It is a Spanish restaurant with enough plastic flowers outside to bankrupt Buds Beautiful(remember that place???). I’ll swing by and takeaphoto for you. I’m looking forward to reading about Jake connecting your tan lines..hop to it woman!!!


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