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Gristmill: Of the Flesh

Wed, 05/24/2023 - 18:21
Not the Hamptons, no, but another resort area — Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.
Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

I don’t need Memorial Day weekend to tell me summer’s here. The parking lots downtown, any downtown, say it all.

Although I’ll admit to being taken by surprise by the early strength of the sun’s punishing rays, sharper than ever, more unforgiving than ever. What, I have to wrap up like a crash victim to spend a little time out of doors watching East Hampton’s spring track team?

Between that and all the damn ticks leaving no walk unspoiled, the longstanding human rush to populate cities at last makes complete sense. Nature? Leave it to the animals. Call me a cab. Let’s order some Chinese, kick back with a few streamed episodes of “I Hate Suzie,” and call it good.

Spurring my complaint is another fateful trip to the dermatologist for my biannual carving. What is this, my fourth flesh removal?

Lifeguarding is at fault. And it wasn’t even real lifeguarding. It was of the poolside variety, just over yonder on the old Abe Katz farm, later the Dune Alpin condo development, where, going strictly by my dubious memory, they thought they could skip hiring lifeguards if they simply built five-foot-deep swimming pools, but they’d been misinformed, hence the mutually reluctant employment of an 18-year-old slacker for a quite pointless job.

Then came the sun. Height of summer. Mid-1980s. A full house. Pool packed. No umbrellas. No shade whatsoever. I’m talking a full eight hours out in it.

What does sunstroke feel like? It felt remarkably like being stoned off your ass.

And that to me is Day Zero, the day I blame for all my subsequent skin problems.

And so, the doctor’s visit. I can see it now, I’ll be like Sylvester Stallone in “Rocky” — “Cut me, Mick,” he says to his cornerman when he can’t see out of one eye. “Cut me.”

The latest blemish isn’t pretty. It looks like Hunter Thompson put his cigarette out against my temple. And when it’s gone, I expect all negative thoughts to go with it, all baseless worries, all ill will, all impure thoughts, at last all physical maladies.

It just hasn’t plopped in the pan yet.


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