I am about to do something I have never done before.
I tell the woman that it’s my first time and ask her to recommend a suitable prep cream. I strip off and vigorously rub it all over my face and body. I feel a slight tingle at first. And I look a bit flushed. I feel a little hot.
Then my face goes bright red. I watch as the redness spreads with indecent haste across my body. I feel really hot. My skin is burning. I’m on fucking fire!
My heart is racing. I feel dizzy. I must be having some kind of extreme allergic reaction; like those poor women who burn their heads with hair dye. Except this isn’t my head. It’s my face and my entire (and I mean entire) body.
I’ve probably got third degree burns. I’ll be disfigured for life. What the hell was I thinking? Why did I want a tan? I’ve got olive skin for Christ’s sake! I’m starting to hyperventilate.
I grab a towel and run into reception screaming. She narrows her eyes and peers at me,
“Oooh, what happened to you? You’re bright red”
I am also hysterical.
“No shit Sherlock! My skin is fucking burning! Call an ambulance! Now!”
I’m frantically waving the bottle of cream around as I speak. She takes it out of my hand and looks at it. Apparently I have used a very strong ‘tingle’ cream.
It works by bringing all the blood to the surface so that you tan faster. I can’t believe people do this shit knowingly. Then expose their bodies to the extreme heat of a sun bed.
I grab the bottle to see for myself. It is for use only by ‘experienced tanners’. And it is supposed to be used ‘sparingly’. I slapped on half the bottle.
The burning feeling isn’t as intense. I start to calm down. My awareness increases as my adrenalin levels decrease. I become aware that I have attempted to wrap myself in a tiny towel that doesn’t quite cover my Mediterranean bottom.
Then I remember that the cafe area is directly behind me. I turn around slowly. Please let it be empty. Please. Please. Please.
Damn it! Why are there so many people at the gym on a Saturday? And why are they all staring at me?
Ok. I admit that’s a stupid question - I am half naked and lobster red. And I ran into reception screaming like a banshee. That is why they are staring at me.
All I can do now is try to style it out. I tug at the towel in a pointless attempt to make it meet across my bottom. I muster as much dignity as the situation will allow. Then I stick my nose in the air and walk off slowly in a calm fashion.
I have a cold shower before I take issue with the lady who gave me the cream. Yes. I know. I should have read the back of the bottle. But she should have warned me. Especially as I told her it was my first time.
The manager offers me a free facial by way of compensation. I opt for the most expensive one. I deserve it. I was traumatised.
The redness has subsided and the facial has ensured that I have a natural healthy glow as I set off for my (non) date with Anthony.
I park my car, take my seatbelt off and bend down to swap my flats for heels. I haven’t driven in heels ever since I drove into a bus stop and wrote off my previous car.
I must stress that I didn’t drive into it because of my heels. I drove into it because I was so deep in thought that I (momentarily) forgot I was driving. The heels just made it difficult to slam on the brakes once I remembered.
As I sit back up, I notice that the car next to me is moving backwards. But it’s empty. I’m fascinated. How is that possible? I’m still trying to work it out when I’m thrown back by the impact of my car rolling forward into the ticket machine.
Balls! I forgot to put my handbrake on. I was the one moving. I realise this just as my head is coming forward (with force) on to the steering wheel.
It occurs to me that perhaps my life would be simpler if I wasn’t always looking for the deeper explanation.
I check my reflection in the mirror. I have a large bump on my forehead. I look like a bloody unicorn.
I’ll wait in the car until it goes down. I hate being late but I can’t turn up looking like this. I send him a ‘stuck in traffic’ text.
Then I hear a tapping on my window. It’s Anthony. And he has that look of genuine concern on his face again.
My plan to convince him that I am not, in actual fact, a total head case suddenly seems somewhat futile...