… That most men are lousy when it comes to using sunscreen.
During our recent foray to the wilds of Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo Mike and I had a little ‘discussion’ about the use of protection… sun protection that is. Not that we see the sun on a regular basis around here. We should probably call the stuff ‘UV Rays protection’ because whether you have cloud cover or not, those UV rays are just hammering the skin doing their best to cause wrinkles. Oh, and skin cancer. That, too. I try to be really aware of it, especially the wrinkle part because since I was a lifeguard every summer for many years in my ignorant youth, I’ve already damaged my skin pretty badly. Ah, the 1970’s, the days before science took the joy out of laying out in the sun and getting blistered.
Regardless of the skin cancer risk, we’re in our 50’s now and I want both of us to preserve whatever semblance of unwrinkled complexion we have left. So I invest in large amounts of sunscreen. And even though Mike is a grown man who clearly knows how to take care of himself, this fact is only lately becoming evident in his skin protection routine. For years I’ve been the pestering wife, harping on him to slather on the cream, sometimes to the detriment of his delicate eyes. Lord, how he would whine about putting that stuff on. The looks I would get, looks that were completely wasted on me as I bought one kind after another until I found one he would wear without complaining.
Frankly I just could not understand why he resisted my efforts so much. Was it a control thing? Was it denial? I mean, I don’t have to tell him to brush his teeth, or take a bath, or shave, or any of the other many things grown people do without being told. He’s one of the most grown-up people I know. Could it just be a ‘man’ thing? (I have to tread very, very carefully here lest I be accused of ‘stereotyping’ which, in the political correctness category, is identical to profiling.)
So we had our little ‘discussion’, very politely, of course, while sailing under leaden skies, on our way to the raft up with other cruisers. One of us (me) said we bet that when couples sailed together, it was mostly the wife who insisted on using sunscreen. I don’t remember who said it, probably me (yep). Words like ‘harp’ and ‘nag’ were thrown around without landing on any particular person. We agreed it would be fun to do a little research project to find out. And I thought the raft up would be a perfect place to do it. So I did.
While we were all gathered for the hor d’oeuvres competition I did an informal poll of the women present. I asked the women who was most concerned about the use of sunscreen while out on the boat: the women, or their husbands (mates, ‘boyfriends’, partners…..whatever)? As the title says, 9 out of 12 women, which includes me, said it was the women who were most aware and concerned about it. Out of the three women who answered it was their husband who was most aware, one of those husbands has had skin cancer which was treated surgically. His awareness level skyrocketed after that.
I had to laugh as several of the women almost rolled their eyes at the question. “He won’t use it even when I nag”, one woman said. “I’ve given up trying to get him to use it”, said another. “I don’t even try anymore”. And those were the polite responses that did not include incredulous laughter. And then there was the interesting gentleman who doesn’t use it himself, but he does remind his wife to wear her hat because he’s concerned for HER skin. You know what’s unfair about that? His skin looks great! How exactly does that happen? There are some things in life that are just not fair.
Apparently I am vindicated, based on the completely scientific and irrefutable methodology I used in this survey.* I learned how to do this in college, where I majored in science.
No animals were harmed in this process, to my knowledge, and only a few men were insulted. I beg their pardon and remind them to use their sunscreen.
* Not really. I mean, yes, I am vindicated, but certain people who are sticklers for the scientific process might take umbrage with some of my conclusions. I stand by them regardless of such umbrage because I was there and I recorded each answer on my scratch paper. Also, I counted all the answers personally and I’ve been able to count to 12 since I was 5 years old.
Oh, and also Mike is pretty good at using his sunscreen now. I hardly ever have to use it for him.