Tuesday, June 14, 2005
the greatest sunburn in the history of human existence
Sunday night at 2 in the morning I sat naked on the edge of my tub, cold water pouring out of the showerhead, spraying the tub but not my gorgeous nude body, applying aloe vera lotion to large portions of myself.
Two hours later in my bedroom, I woke up, turned to my side, and deftly peed into an empty gatorade bottle that I had stationed next to the bed strictly for this reason.
My name is Jason Mulgrew. And I am the biggest asshole on earth.
It started on Friday night. I got a call from some friends who were going down the shore. They were going to Sea Girt, New Jersey for Friday night and Saturday day, returning to the city on Saturday evening. They had room in the car and the house and so asked if I wanted to tag along.
Since I have named this summer “2005: Summer of Party”, I accepted. What better way to spread the party that is going on in my head and my pants 24 hours a day than by taking it to the shore? I can think of none.
And so off we went. Friday night looked promising. Spirits were high as we ate at a restaurant by the beach. We sat outdoors and took in the majesty that is the Jersey Shore, in this case manifested by a nearby table of Jersey guidos in their late-twenties screaming and yelling for two hours about either their college baseball team or their work softball team (not sure which and not sure which would be sadder) and saying things like, “Tonight we party old school!” and “Tonight’s the night boys!” If they hadn’t been complete meatheads with biceps the size of my thighs, I would have turned and told them they were the saddest group of assholes I’d ever seen. Instead, I just ate and tried to get my buddy Dean drunk enough to say something to them, but it didn't work. Stupid "I can't drink - I'm a recovering alcoholic" Dean.
Not so surprisingly, I was a little gluttonous. I got the crab cake appetizer (the best I’ve ever had) and the filet mignon entrée, but I also shared some fried calamari with my friend Abby. And by “shared” I mean “she watched while I ate 95% of the calamari, all the while making grunting and/or sexual noises, and one time when I thought she was reaching for one of my crab cakes I poked her in the arm with my fork and said, ‘If you try that again, I will fucking burn you.’”
After dinner, we went back to the house for some beers. We had huge plans to hit up some nearby bars, but I added a six pack of Corona to the sea and land creatures fighting it out in my belly and passed the f out. Full, with a nice buzz, feeling good in the sea air, it was probably the best sleep I’ve had in three months.
The next morning we all awoke early and went to the beach. And this is where the wheels came off.
I don’t like the beach, for three main reasons:
1) I am chubby
2) I have hair on my chest, belly, shoulders, back, etc (think a carpet with eyes, arms and a penis like a light switch)
3) I burn very, very easily
The beach is no place for me to be, unless it’s at night and I’m there with an unsuspecting French-Canadian girl who I’ve just told I’m a doctor who writes poetry and owns horses and who can also bench press 250 pounds. On this particular occasion, there was no unsuspecting French Canadian girl. And it was daytime. And so there was sunlight. Brutal, brutal sunlight.
The last time I was on the beach was last August, when I went to the Caribbean to attend my cousin Lindsay’s wedding and to drink 100 pina coladas in five days. I hoped to get some color while I was there, but I so lathered myself up with sunblock that I was the only person in history to return from a vacation in the Caribbean paler than when he left.
With this memory still fresh in my mind, when we went to the beach on Saturday morning I was determined more than ever to get some color. Of course, “color” to someone like me (of Irish and Polish ancestry) means “a deep red giving way to a bright pink before returning to printer-paper white.” Still, that’s better than nothing, so there was no sunscreen for me that day.
Not a good move (part one).
I of course had my shirt on, but I didn’t have any “beach” t-shirts, so instead of something light I was wearing a navy blue t-shirt, basically saying to the sun, “Hey, asshole! Down here, you cock sucker!” I was also wearing navy blue shorts, so I made a great target.
Of course I didn’t realize this at the time. I kept complaining that I didn’t think I was getting any color, that I didn’t need any sunscreen because “look – I got nothing”, that I was fine. Boy was I wrong.
On the way back to the city, I began to feel uncomfortable. First it started as some excess warmth, but by the time I got back to my place, it felt like my whole body was on fire. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I opened the door to my apartment and my roommate Brian said, “Holy shit! Did you fall into a vat of red paint or are you just having a heart attack?” Crap, crap, crap.
I didn’t know what to do. I made a quick jaunt to the nearest pharmacy to pick up some aloe vera and other elixirs that though expensive would do nothing for the pain. I put the lotion all over my body and realized I faced a decision: I could stay in, watch a movie, and obsess about the pain that was slowly taking control of my body. Or I could go out, get drunk, and forget about the pain. I chose the latter.
Not a good move (part two).
What I knew but decided not to dwell on was that alcohol slows the body’s cooling processes. I was too wrapped up thinking, “Yes, that’s what I’ll do! I’ll get drunk and everything will be better! Everything is better when you’re drunk! God I am so fucking smart! I want to have sex right now! With a woman! Or an effeminate man! I don’t even care anymore! What time is it! I want a cheesesteak!”
And so I went out and got drunk. I’m normally a big sweaty guy, but wrapping my sunburned areas in a shirt and shoes, socks and pants, and then throwing a dozen or so beers into the equation didn’t work out like I hoped it would. Instead of taking my mind of the sunburn, I was closer to "heat stroke" than I was "painlessness". The good news is that for the first time in my life I felt attractive; everywhere I walked in the bar, people were checking me out. Of course, they weren’t thinking “He’s hot!” but rather “That guy should go to a hospital!”, but hey, getting checked out is getting checked out.
I passed out hard on Saturday night and woke up Sunday in an obscene amount of pain. It wasn’t just the sunburn that was bothering me, but I found out that I had burned my feet and legs so badly that they had swollen to three times their normal size and I couldn’t put any pressure on them. I was sunburned so bad that I couldn’t fucking walk. Son of a bitch.
And so Sunday I was essentially bedridden. Having been badly sunburned every summer since birth, I could deal with the sunburn pain. But this new swollen feet/ankles/shins thing completely threw me for a loop. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I couldn't walk. Ok, well I guess I am exaggerating, because I could walk, but it was very difficult and painful. All day Sunday I didn't leave my apartment or put on shoes, and moved only to pee, poop, or eat. Otherwise, I stayed in bed in and cursed myself for being such a moron. Then I opened by window and started shouting at all the Chinese people and tourists trolling my neighborhood of Little Italy. Then someone threw a rock at my window, so I stopped and took a nap.
Monday was much of the same. I woke up in the morning and tried to get ready for work, but it looked and felt like I had two broken ankles. So I worked from home, which isn't as cool as it sounds. I thought working from home would entail sitting around eating cereal, watching Sportscenter for three hours, and then taking an erotic bath. Not so. I didn't leave my apartment and didn't shower, but I was indeed working. So that made me feel good about myself. I guess.
But today I made it in. After two straight days of staying inside, not showering, lathering my body with aloe vera and wrapping my ankles in hobo ice packs (crushed ice in sandwich bags wrapped in a dish towels held together by scotch tape), I have regained some of my mobility. Since I'm in terrible shape and I'm lazy, I imagine I won't be fully recovered until around Christmas, but them's the breaks.
And so hear me out: wear sunscreen at the beach. For the love of god, cake it on yourself so that you don't burn. Sure, I've learned a lot about myself in the past two days (I can easily pee into a gatorade bottle while lying in bed, I will make a great shut-in if I ever make it to old age, I can watch the History Channel and eat pretzel sticks dipped in nutella for up to four hours at a time without moving anything but my arms), but if given the opportunity again, I would definitely have put on sunblock. I have no problem taking the fall for you so that you might learn an important lesson, but if you ignore me and get a sunburn, I will be crushed. So please, do it for me. I feel like I should spend the next two or three days touring grade schools, speaking to little kids, shouting, "Do you see what happened to me! Look at me! I am a monster! [softer] So please wear sunscreen. And stay in school. Now who wants to go out to Uncle Jason's van for some skittles? Hmmm? Hmmmm? Not you - you're too chubby. How about you, young man? You look like you play sports!"