(originally published June 26, 2007)
“You’re about to see something that hasn’t seen the light of day in about 15 years,” my husband announced to our neighbor as he strolled into his backyard.
My husband grabbed the bottom hem of his white T-shirt and began pulling it from the waistband of his swimming trunks.
Said neighbor was more than a little scared. In fact, he looked absolutely terrified. As if he’d just learned he’d been cast as the lead in a remake of “Deliverance.”
“Uh, man, there are kids here,” he said, nervously gulping a large swig of beer as he backed up toward the pool’s edge.
Perhaps he considered drowning as a preferable alternative to the image he feared would be seared to his eyeballs in about five seconds.
“I agree,” I laughingly told my husband and held out a hand to stop him. “No one wants to see that.”
But he simply ignored our pleas and slowly peeled off his shirt to reveal a chest so glaringly pale, so glowingly white, so gloriously paste-like that if he were standing atop the Great Wall of China, well, the massive structure wouldn’t be the only thing astronauts could see from space.
In one fluid motion he tossed the shirt over his shoulder and cannon-balled into the bright, blue waters of the swimming pool, deaf to the cries of “Don’t look directly at it! It’s brighter than the sun!” “My eyes! My eyes!” and “Who invited Albino Bob to the party?”
It’s not as if my husband doesn’t have a tan. He does. He’s a healthy looking individual from elbows to fingertips and knees down to ankles. But everything else in between is exposed to nothing stronger than the series of 60-watt light bulbs that illuminate our master bathroom on a daily basis.
Oh, so sexy.
And it was while admiring such manliness that I realized something. “Hey, babe, did you put on sunscreen?” I shouted out to him.
“I don’t need it,” he insisted just before dunking our neighbor’s 8-year-old son, who was obviously the more mature of the two.
“Oh, I see,” I answered. “You’re practically a walking advertisement for Hawaiian Tropic, eh?”
“You got it, babe,” he answered, climbing out from the pool then turning right back around to belly flop on top of the floating beer cooler.
But it was just the testosterone talking, and he had run out of such hormone-induced bravery by that evening.
“I hurt,” he announced as he slowly walked into the family room and collapsed onto the sofa beside me.
“What? Your experiment to turn into a human shish kabob didn’t work out like you’d hoped,” I asked.
He snuck a look at me and asked in a quiet voice, “Can you take a look at my back?”
He let out a loud hiss when I slowly peeled away the T-shirt to reveal a set of shoulders that were more roasted than the time I tried to cook meatloaf under the broiler. We had to buy a new oven and have the old one sprinkled with holy water and buried in consecrated ground.
I decided the finger test – poking his shoulder to see if it left an imprint – was unnecessary in this case as his skin was hot enough to cook…well…meatloaf.
And that’s when our toddler ran by and stopped in his tracks when he saw my husband’s back and let out a “Whoa, baby! Daddy has a big ouch-ie!”
“See?” I said to my husband over his burned shoulders, “even a two-year-old knows you should wear sunscreen.”
At that point the doorbell rang, cutting off whatever string of swear words he’d planned to respond with. Standing on the Welcome mat was our neighbor’s 8-year-old son, asking if my husband could “come out and play.”
Apparently the young quickly forget near-death experiences like being dunked by an albino-looking madman.
And as my husband jumped off the couch, grabbed the basketball and set off to shoot some hoops, I couldn’t help but marvel how quickly the old bounce back too.
As long as they have a handful of painkillers, a short memory and a wife who chooses not to say, “I told you so.”
You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.