Gold Bond, Vicodin and journalism

Jackie Mantey

I have the redhead curse.

My childhood was filled with old people pinching my cheeks and my aunts telling me how many women would kill to have a natural hair color like mine. I, however, could not see what all the fuss was about.

While my hair may have been a radiant red streak of hope for the adults, I could not stand the freckles that plagued my face and the constant remarks from my friends about my lack of sun and ghostly complexion.


The three paragraphs you just read were to be the lead of last week’s Rate It! section. I was going to continue with a witty feature story about my search for the best tanning place in Kent, engaging readers with my adventures of goofy goggles and lotion resulting in a beautiful golden skin tone.

But, as my friend Rachel delicately put it, stuff happens – in this case, burn happened, and hence I learned the dangers of participatory journalism.

As a high school tanning bed veteran, I figured this story would be easy. Just figure out the place with the best atmosphere and sanitary conditions, how often the bulbs were changed, which had the cheapest packages – and at the end of the day have a free tan.

The sun gods, however, were not in my favor.

As I entered the first venue, I found that the only one-day tanning package I could purchase was for 20 minutes. I thought about my fair skin and how I hadn’t been tanning or even laid outside for the past two years. But I have this unfortunate trait that makes me think of myself as invincible.

So, I slathered myself with the tingle tanning lotion, which, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the most potent tanning lotions out there – manufacturers say it stimulates microcirculation as a means of enhancing the tanning process. Basically, it made my body feel like it was on fire.

Twenty minutes later and one car ride home, I felt as if that burning would never stop. It was your case-in-point bad sunburn times 10, and later that night I was rushed to the hospital by my Kent State big brothers.

For the next week – and I’m still recovering now – I dealt with my sun poisoning, finding savior in scores of Vicodin, constant ice packs, two bottles of Gold Bond and numerous oatmeal baths.

The itching began on day three, and as I lay helpless and sleepless for days, I thought of two lessons to learn from this.

Tanning is just like smoking. We know it’s bad for us. We know in the long run we will have leathery skin and a high possibility of cancer, but it makes us feel good. Well stop now, friends, because I just endured the textbook case of misery – and chemo has to be much worse.

I guess the other lesson is that we can’t expect to be Anderson Coopers our third year in journalism.

For now, I’ll have to more aptly pick stories I write in first person and endure remarks from my peers about getting an umbrella before I go outside in the sun.

Jackie Mantey is a junior magazine journalism major and editor of the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].