By in Humor

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?

Decisions, Decisions

- - -

Image Credit » by Gerlach

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


MegL wrote on August 11, 2015, 1:40 PM

Hmm, I don't have a fear of enclosed spaces but I wonder if taking a relaxation tape in might help? I used to practice relaxation, learned in antenatal classes and from books 40 years ago and have free relaxation tapes downloaded for use when I can't sleep. Maybe there is one for this situation. Some places have vertical cubicles. Would that help?

CoralLevang wrote on August 11, 2015, 2:13 PM

Again, I will vote for the airbrushing. I do not like the idea of the harmful rays. I have a niece who does airbrushing at her salon, and it's painless, discreet, and better for you for obvious reasons.

wolfgirl569 wrote on August 11, 2015, 5:02 PM

I have never used one either and dont plan to. I just get out in the sun. But my sister uses one regularly.

Feisty56 wrote on August 11, 2015, 7:42 PM

Thank you for your concern and suggestions, MegL . The tanning unit plays some music of its own, but it's not very relaxing. I may have to consider relaxation tapes.

I've considered the vertical units, but it is still an enclosed, small space. I'll lick this yet.

Feisty56 wrote on August 11, 2015, 7:44 PM

Thanks, CoralLevang , I'll keep that in mind. I am going to be very cautious using the tanning bed. I don't have a desire for a deep tan at all. I'll be satisfied with just an even light tan all over.

Feisty56 wrote on August 11, 2015, 7:46 PM

I had not planned to even use a tanning bed myself, but do no wear strapless tops outdoors. The dress I'm wearing isn't strapless, but is cut in such a way as much of my shoulders will be bared.

catsholiday wrote on August 12, 2015, 9:21 AM

Not for me I am all too aware of skin cancer !!

dashboardc33 wrote on August 12, 2015, 2:40 PM

I am supposed to be tan by September, but I doubt that will happen. Tanning doesn't come easy for me.

AliCanary wrote on August 13, 2015, 6:23 PM

Hmmm, just as well. I did tanning beds a couple of times before I found out how bad they were. We just put quarters on our eyes, lol! I had to laugh at "tanning coffin"--yeah, that's what it is, basically. Claustrophobic types should not try this!

lexiconlover wrote on September 30, 2015, 1:56 PM

I know you no longer have a need for the tanning bed. But sometimes they have the standing up ones, or you could just go with the airbrushing route if ever you wanted or needed a quick tan. It actually is pretty good and easy.