I’m sitting on my couch right now doing what I do and have always done best: watching Wimbledon. But not only that, I’m watching my absolute favorite player of them all: French heartthrob Gilles Simon.
I’m particularly satisfied because not only do I have my iPad in my lap (absolutely necessary for an attention-deficient millennial like myself whose fingers are only really at ease when scrolling and double tapping) but because my parents left me all by my lonesome to venture to their favorite place which I take wholehearted pleasure in telling you is the grocery store (bless their hearts). The reason why I’m especially relieved by their absence, however, is because I’ve found it to be a rather difficult feat keeping my crush on Gilles under wraps from my dad over the last few years. Admittance of my attraction to athletes while watching sports with him is more than a bit awkward for me. I would hate for him to think that I only watch sports to drool over the brawny, shining bodies of Paleolithic men efforting so tumultuously with their manly muscles because honestly, that’s only one reason why I watch.
I deeply care for the competitive, social, and political aspects of sport, for the metaphor that sport is to life, for the many arenas that sport represents in the world and in us all. But also I tend to save the boy gushing for those most serious of semesterly confessions when I know with absolute certainty that I have indeed found my future husband and that he exists in the biology-for-non-majors lecture the hour before mine, or more recently since the professional world has taken hold of me, that he is a successful financier only eight years my senior and that he just needs a shot of Botox or four (this is all hypothetical of course).
Anyway, back to what I was saying, I’m currently having a particularly splendid moment watching Gilles Simon guiltlessly all by myself. Granted, to give you the most honest and vivid picture, I just had four of my wisest teeth extricated from my skull and my face has been that of a numb-gummed blowfish with a knack for salty pudding for a little less than a week now. And aside from the fact that I’m on a steady diet of Ibuprofen and Tylenol (with just a dash of Codeine for what I truly believe to be placebo trickery alone because no one apparently has any humanity or sympathy anymore for a girl isolated on an island that is her parents’ home just looking to have some drugged up fun over her fourth of July weekend), I am in a semi-blissful state mingling with my one true televised love who I rarely get the privilege to see.
Anyway again, I’ve digressed far too much from the main point which is that while sitting at home alone watching Gilles Simon prance around the green, green grass ranks in the top three things that make me happiest in life, an unexpected factor has been added to the mix that has trumped even that. Before this day and moment I could not have fathomed it getting any better than this until a Bulgarian athlete by the name of Grigor Dimitrov sportily hopped up to the net, equally loosening limbs and nerves, to shake the hand of my beloved. Just as tanned, just as calm, and just as scintillatingly hot is this fresh-faced contender that I can hardly stand it.
So powerful is the dual force of their striking beauty that I am beckoned to question: what happened to my deepest, darkest dream of one day being a hot tennis mom? A conquest that I undoubtedly need to begin exploring and working toward, now that I am a woman of the mature age of almost twenty-three and especially because I began my long-term gluten-free investment toward future MILFdom about six years ago.
A declaration of goals was recent as the new half year was upon us only two days previous. I awoke at the magical hour of four in the morning (I blame it on that imaginary speck of codeine they all claim) and willfully made note of everything I would torture myself to do over the course of the next six months—none of which were to begin the tennis lessons that I always swore I would take.
But I will tell you now why I am so reluctant to make that declaration. As of right now, I have no readers of my blog so it would be inaccurate to say either that “a few of you may know…” or that “you may not know…” because in truth, as I write this, there is no one here. But my point is, whoever you are, reading this wherever you are, I am going to tell you a deeply personal fact about myself that you, like I was trying to say, may or may not know: I hate the sun.
I will start by saying that I wish I did not hate it. I truly wish I was one of those golden children with golden curls put on this earth almost solely to bask in the rays and splash in the ocean while the sun beats down and covers the entire earth with its yellow. Only in Texas, it’s not yellow. It’s red. Scorpions slither into your house to take shelter in old sneakers and blind worms hopelessly seize, frying on the sidewalk while leather car seats sear stripes onto your most tender cut of under-thigh flesh. That is Texas summer. And while some may relish in the songs of cicadas and leap at the chance to leisurely lay by the pool and cook themselves brown, I already am brown.
In fact, I coat my body in roughly two blankets of white goop to keep myself at just brown, thank you very much. Because if not, I turn the ashiest of gray-blacks that you have ever seen. And no, I am not being dramatic. As an *artiste* I have a trained eye for color and my skin turns the most genuine and true shade of gray-black I have ever seen and could only hope to mix on a palette, with all my ethnically ambiguous olive pigment lost without a trace.
I know because there was a summer that I spent in Destin with my best friend, Kayla, at the age of seventeen. It probably would have been okay if I just boogie boarded a few times a day or occasionally played footsie with the jellyfish gliding along the shallows, but I fell asleep in the sun. On purpose. Multiple times. Because my curious, experimental self wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. The skin on my nose peeled off and my bikini doubled as a stencil for a semi-permanent full-body tattoo, and I was happy as a clam. Only I would come to realize that clams are only happy when they aren’t cooked alive. Sidenote: the saying definitely needs to be updated to read “happy as an uncooked clam”. A raw, fleshy, white, uncooked clam.
The plane touched down at the airport and my parents had barely caught glimpse of my evil darker twin before their jaws dropped to the ground. Now, for a little background, “Who’s the fairest of them all?” is not just a quirky, antiquated line that once upon a time lived only in a Snow White script. No, it’s actually a very common question asked by uncles and aunties all across the subcontinent of India when searching for wives for their sons.
Now, every culture is vain. One of the universal beauties of beauty itself is that the concept of ugly exists no matter where you go. But one of the things about Indian vanity (and it’s definitely not just India that carries this notion) is the idea that it’s not just that lighter is more beautiful. It’s that Western is more beautiful; whiter is more beautiful.
I guess it makes sense as to why my parents put baby Guy in swimming and piano and singing lessons, and they probably thanked multiple Gods when I took on my decade-long dedication to playing chess, the least athletic activity fathomable that contains absolutely no chance of ultraviolet exposure whatsoever (in fact, if you surveyed a tournament hall, you would come to find that being pale to the point of anemia was trending far higher than playing a number of popular gambits). And not overlooked was the episode when I took on refereeing soccer as my first job at age thirteen, and while my parents’ concern for my skin was primary, their pride in my sense of industrialism was sadly almost entirely nonexistent.
Now before you freak out, I need to make a few things clear. First of which, my parents aren’t superficial sociopaths. This is just the kind of concern that any normal mom or dad would press upon their child in any episode of the Real Housewives of Mumbai (not a real show—don’t check Hulu). And secondly, while you might think it’s sad that I go about avoiding the sun– that while my friends tan, I sit in the shade alone sadly wishing I too could bake myself like a butterball turkey on Thanksgiving, I actually just perch myself under a big umbrella with a magazine, sipping iced tea and feeling quite content with myself, goals of a wrinkle-free grandmotherhood undeterred.
So is it ironic that the scintillatingly hot jocks with the tanned skin that has me hypnotized practically attribute their gorgeous looks to the same sun that I purposefully avoid? Yes. And is it unfortunate that standards of beauty are imposed on us at such an infantile age that we hardly recognize that they are never facts, rarely even valid opinions, and always nothing but figments of young, fear-bred imaginations? Absolutely. But we all pick and choose our vanities, our insecurities, our opinions of pretty. The ugly thing about beauty is that we are all victims to its superficiality in one way or another.
But to let it affect your pep, your zest, your joie de vivre- as Gilles would say- would be far too much! So as a toast to my past, to my soccer-reffing, sun-baking, daredevil teenage self who gave less of a damn, I willfully declare that it is for this reason that visors were invented and why tennis lessons can be taken year-round when the sun tucks into bed just a little bit earlier. You will be pleased to know that I already have four tabs worth of white tennis skirts pulled up on my browser and my mom’s credit card all ready to go (you really must take advantage of the limited number of times in your life when your face, suddenly baring resemblance to an abused, overly inflated volleyball, strikes a delicate nerve of sympathy in your doting mother).
So yes, in conclusion I still hate the sun and will probably always hate the sun, but I’ll keep being a somewhat good sport about it some of the time. Now, to find a coach as capable as Gilles or Grigor… That would be a truly motivating thing.