After my third cup of tea this morning I was wondering how much tea is too much. I pondered bathing in a tub of hot, milky, sugary tea when it came to me that I had already once done that. But without the milk and sugar.
When I was in my final year of school I wanted a tan to make myself look sun-kissed (and hopefully actually kissed) at the school formal. You should know at this point that I am alabaster white, not just white white. I am opaque white save for the freckles and the sun spots that I gained from sitting in the sun trying to get that elusive tan that people of my colour will never achieve.
When you are 17 years old you do believe that having a tan will change the way you look, not just the colour of your skin; the tan will render you flawless and beautiful. Hell, I still sometimes think that at age 48, but a melanoma scar on my back keeps me attuned to the reality of sun damage.
But there I was a week away from the formal and desperate for a tan. This was a million years ago and there was no such thing as a spray tan, and self-tanning creams were such a novelty that all they provided was an orange veneer and a deep and offensive smell.
My step-brother, who I thought was worldly and trustworthy at the time, was also a want-to-be actor. He knew insider tricks and tips. He knew about stage make up and how actors got to look the way that they did under the theatre lights. He was surely the person who would know how his actor peers achieved perfect tans. Stick with me, I was young and clinging to hope.
So I took to the bath with a family sized pack of tea bags, tag-less of course because no one wants to lie in the bath and get tangled in tea-bag strings.
He suggested that I soak myself in a bath of tea. He claimed that the tannin in the tea would stain the skin and lend a natural, tanned, non-streaky look to my 17-year-old body.
So I took to the bath with a family sized pack of tea bags, tag-less of course because no one wants to lie in the bath and get tangled in tea-bag strings. I ran a hot bath and poured the tea bags in. Sure enough the water quickly changed to the colour of tea which was no surprise to anyone. It was only then that I started to worry about how much water should go into this bath.
If it was not full enough I would tan only the bottom part of my body where the water touched my legs and my back. My chest and shoulders were sticking out and I had to keep my arms in a rather uncomfortable position next to my body to ensure they were completely covered. So I added more hot water and a couple more tea bags for good measure. But what about my neck. And my face?
Could I lie in the bath for an hour with my face under water? I would have to wear a snorkel and that would ruin the lines around my face.
Could I lie in the bath for an hour with my face under water? I would have to wear a snorkel and that would ruin the lines around my face. Imagine turning up to the dance with snorkel tan marks on your body? And what if the tea coloured my hair?
The other thing I had not counted on was my own impatience. I am not good at sitting still at the best of times, sitting dead still in a tub of tea while trying to pretend you can breathe underwater is not a past time I would suggest to even the most mellow and restful among us.
I had intended to stay in for an hour -=- my step-brother's instruction. The 20 minutes that I did manage were awful. I was bored and tea bags were floating everywhere making me feel a bit edgy and uptight.
I got out of the bath and towel dried myself. I was alabaster. The towel I used was not. But the thing is the tea DID stain. Only it didn't stain me, it stained the bath. And not just for the period of the formal -- but forever.
It turned out to the be the most stressful tea I didn't drink.
I think I can say with some degree of authority: bathing in tea is nowhere near as calming as drinking it out of a mug. And going to the formal with really white skin is not the end of the world. At least you know you can come home and sip on a cup of hot tea while you scrub the bath. Again and again and again...
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