Toasting a fresh-off-the-grill sunburn

You know that shade of pink you see when you cut into the middle of a perfectly cooked medium-rare steak? Well, that?s the color my back is.

The only difference is that the fresh-off-the-grill steak isn?t nearly was hot as my back feels right now.

I have come to terms with the fact that, because I have an incredibly light complexion, my skin tends to fry like an egg very easily. I usually just ignore it, telling myself that this one time will be an exception, and that instead of looking like I was dyed in Hawaiian Punch, I will come out with a bronze tan.

This last time was not the exception.

I recently spent the better part of a day at the Marion Reservoir, which is what led to my current state of permanent blushing.

Normal people don?t get sunburns. Normal people?s skin cells react to ultraviolet rays from the sun by turning brown. My skin cells, however, are cranky, and turn into the same color as Coca-Cola signs whenever they get near the sun.

And there was plenty of warm, sunny weather when my sunburn incident occurred.

My girlfriend?s family parked their camper out there earlier in the week so they would have a spot reserved for the weekend. So Shelby, her sister Sam and I decided that, as long as the camper was already out there, we should spend some time by the water.

Shelby?s family likes to ?camp.? I put the word in quotation marks because I think they are cheating.

If Webster had asked me to define camping, my definition would be, ?the voluntary act of legally insane people who pitch a stuffy canvas tent, cook over a smoky fire and sleep on rocks.?

I always seem to sleep on rocks.

My family used to go camping at various reservoirs every once in a while. No matter how many precautions I took, somehow I always managed to put my sleeping bag in the section of the tent that was located directly over a quarry of large, sharp stones.

Some people find it tragic that a princess had to sleep on top of a pea. But nobody ever writes fairytales about innocent campers who are cursed to always have to sleep on top of a miniature Mount Rushmore.

Not that I?m bitter.

I have never found camping to be all that enjoyable. I know some people really like it, and I?m not saying that they?re not allowed to. I?m just saying that if I wanted to sleep in a canvas structure that smelled of campfire smoke and dirty socks, I would?.

Actually, I would never want to sleep in a canvas structure that smelled of campfire smoke and dirty socks, so that last sentence is irreverent to this column.

Please disregard it.

And to top off my distaste for camping, I distinctly remember the last time my family pitched camp, and the first thing I did when I stepped out of the tent that next morning was inhale some sort of insect the size of a combine, only less tasty.

Naturally, when Shelby told me her family enjoyed camping, I made a mental note to be busy any time they invited me out.

That is, until I found out that when they ?camp,? they are really driving a miniature hotel room to some secluded spot, plugging it into an outlet and enjoying the great outdoors through Venetian blinds.

This thing has electricity, running water, air conditioning, a refrigerator and freezer, microwave, TV with surround sound and room for at least five people to sleep.

If I ever spent the night in a camper, I would wake up the next morning and start groping for a phone so I could call room service.

And because Shelby?s family wanted to ?camp,? I am now painfully similar in color and illumination to a neon bar sign.

Every time I change positions, my T-shirt rubs against my back and I experience a whole new adventure in pain.

I have strongly considered becoming a nudist for this reason. The only draw back?besides being arrested for indecent exposure?is that nudism just means more exposure to the sun.

That?s the last thing I need right now.

So for now, I?m just going to tough it out. Shelby just told me I?m still the best, even if I?m ?a little medium-rare at the moment.?

* * *

UFO: Los Angeles? full name is ?El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula.?

Don?t ask why.

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