Baptism by Tanning Bed
Summoning my courage and what I thought to be my common sense, I sign-in at the fitness center desk. The young woman there was all smiles, even through her eyes, so I determined she was approachable for my needs.
"Excuse me, " I say, "I've never used a tanning bed before, so I am looking for some direction as to how to do so." I explain I need the tan by mid-October, do not want EVER to be burned and inquired as how I should proceed. To her credit, the young woman barely batted an eyelash as she explained to this fifty-something tanning neophyte the ropes of obtaining a gradual tan.
I cataloged the basic information in my confident brain, then signed up for one of the tanning beds that she suggested were of lower power than the rest.
I was set to go -- still feeling confident, but with some anxiety seeping in around the edges.
Oops, I needed to purchase goggles for my eyes to protect them from the ultraviolet light. Happily the fitness center sells the goggles necessary.
Another young woman at the desk explained that each time someone wants to tan, not only do they need to sign the sheet to request use of the tanning bed, but must also speak to someone at the desk who will check each and every time that the person has eye protection.
That was reassuring to me -- this place takes client safety seriously.
And then I am there, in the small room with the tanning bed and a single chair. There's a placard on the bed that assures me the bed has been sanitized since its previous use. My confidence soars. I like the way these folks do business.
I remove the placard and my clothes. I am hoping that this isn't one of those places with hidden cameras, with people peeping behind the scenes. I've read too many mysteries, I tell myself and prepare to get on the "bed."
Tanning bed is a misnomer, but I can understand why it was given such a soothing name, rather than what it appears to be: a tanning coffin. There is a top and a bottom, with the top hinged to be closed. The ultraviolet light tubes are covered by something that resembles plexiglass. My "spidey" senses are tingling and I haven't even laid down.
Donning my goggles, I lie down on the clear surface, finding a small, clear wedge on which to lay my head. The wedge looking like something used at the morgue, at least in shape. This is not reassuring to my mind that is now whirling with anxiety.
Self-talk: You can do this. It's only four minutes and then you're out of here. Part of my brain is listening to my self-talk, the other part has gone into flight-or-fight mode.
There is a series of buttons that can be pushed near the head of the tanning bed. I have no idea what the buttons are for or how to use them -- or if I should use them. I don't see a panic button anywhere. Hmmm. I cannot be the only person with anxieties about being in a lighted coffin. There's a timer button, so I briefly settle in and push the button. Four minutes isn't very long, I reassure myself.
The ultraviolet lights come on, making an eerie purplish-glow, even with my goggles on. My mind registers this, but at the same time fears the lid of this "coffin" is going to close, leaving me trapped inside it for four minutes. Panic. I rolled off the surface before the lid could close. I felt like a super hero who had just escaped a diabolical end.
Heart-racing, I pulled off the goggles. Hmmm, the top of the bed did not automatically close itself. Now that was reassuring -- but not enough for me to lie back down -- not by a long shot. I hurriedly dressed and waited for the four minutes to pass. I didn't want those young women at the desk to know I failed.
Safely back in my car, I chastised myself for being such a ninny. "Tomorrow I will try again," I promised myself. And you know what today is? That tomorrow, so here I go again. Wish me luck?
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/tanning-bed-tanning-wellness-165167/ by Gerlach