Deeptan is addictive, as I had feared . . . no, not feared, but anticipated.

Today, 20 June 2000, the sky was Mediterranean blue and the sun was bright and intense all day long; and the day was long at the threshold of the summer solstice. I basked in the sun for 7 hours; and I got conspicuously darker to my great satisfaction.

This is the third summer since I started working to acquire a deeptan. After the first summer, I continued to sit in the garden at every opportunity on sunny days through the fall and well into December even for an hour in midday. Every little bit counts, and I always have a lot to read, so I might just as well read in the sun. Inevitably I lost some color over the winter, but I started again to sit out in the garden as early as the first week of February, exposing the arms and legs and the face to the soft winter sun. Having started early, I already looked by the end of May as though I had been on an extended tropical vacation. People often asked me, in fact, where I had been travelling. A few steps outside the house, I was tempted to answer. Or, I might have said I was in Key West in my dream and when I woke up I found myself browned.

Last July and August I was in New York off and on, however, and missed on some gorgeous sunny days at home. Then, the last day out to tan came early last winter-- 6 November; there were evidently fewer sunny days and I was busy away from home. After two years of tanning, I was still brown enough, however; the tan line showed it well enough. But I worried I might lose a lot of color over the winter, and I started thinking seriously about spending the winter holidays somewhere sunny.

I considered Hawaii and Mexico as being too far, and Florida too commercial. So, I looked into the Caribbean. I bought a guidebook and searched for a nice, quiet, undeveloped beach. So many sites offer a variety of amenities for vacationers, however: fishing, golf, scuba diving, surfing, sailing, hiking, shopping, dining, disco, and dancing. All I need is a simple hut to stay in near a good, sandy beach. My idea is to lie on the white sand under the bright sun and get a deep, deep tan.

But, after checking through the guidebook, I decided this was a silly idea. First of all, an unpopulated beach is not the safest place for a woman to spend alone nearly naked, especially far from a town as quiet beaches are likely to be. Secondly, I don't swim; I narrowly passed the swimming requirement as an undergraduate by managing to backstroke, more or less, and little else, so, whereas the blue sea would be lovely to gaze at it is a frill beyond my barest necessity. Then, third, it is more essential for tanning that continuous sunny days are assured, and the Caribbean is meteorologically volatile. These two last factors led me to think that a desert, say, in Arizona or New Mexico, might be a more suitable place to go in search of sunny days. But I ruled out this alternative because in midwinter I would prefer a warmer place, if I travel a good distance. Then, a thought passed my mind, too, that trying to tan quickly by lying in the sun everyday will certainly be counterproductive; I will burn and peel, and I hate both the sensation and the appearance of sunburn. For the time being, anyway, it seemed the best thing is to stay put in this Philadelphia suburb, where sunny days come only once a week or twice at best, three consecutive days if lucky, so that the tanned skin has time to rest and settle.

This spring, I had to wait until 25 February for the first exposure to the sun. Still, the sun can be quite intense on bright days in April and May, and by June I have been adding a good deal of color on top of what I have retained over the two years. So, by June, I looked spectacularly brown; and I look forward to the summer months to add more deeptan.

But I suppose, for a tanning fanatic, dark is never dark enough. I have been wondering how dark I can be if I continued my deeptan regime for the next ten years. I wonder if there is a saturation point beyond which the skin only gets more shriveled; it may eventually come to look like brown crêpe paper. That's not pretty, I know. But who cares after, say, eighty.

Moderation is probably a good policy. But I love my dark complexion; with a more pronounced makeup, I can look exotic. I still love the finality of the tanned skin, which was also my initial attraction. But I discovered one benefit I was not aware of before of getting a tan under the bright sun, and that is the anti-depressant effect of basking in the sun. The sunlight invariably uplifts my spirit. That is probably why tanning salons don't interest me.

Maybe, I'll look into a sunny winter in the Riviera; that may be more in my style.

T. Kaori Kitao, 06.20.00

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