Weekly Column: Coppertone is a friend of mine

©Stephenie Freeman

I love the smell of Coppertone in the morning. It’s such a summertime perfume.

No offense to the other sunscreens out there, but I prefer Coppertone. It’s has to do with the smell. It reminds me of being a kid, spending my summers at the pool or out on the lake. I can still picture the little brown bottles scattered all over the bottom of our boat. Just thinking about it makes me want to go put on a bright yellow lifejacket that will stick to my skin when dry and float over my head when wet.

Sunscreen wasn’t the summertime priority back then that it is now, but there was always plenty of it on hand. It’s was always in the pool bag and toted along to the lake with all of the other essential gear. At the beginning of the day, you’d get rubbed down with a bottle of Coppertone Number 4 and were left to bask in the warmth of the sun for the rest of the day.

Is it any wonder why I always had such a nice tan every summer? I remember once someone asking me if I had any Native American ancestry in my blood. No Native American. Just Coppertone.

My kids complain whenever I start to spray them with sunscreen. They hold their breath and shut their eyes while I mace them with a spray-on, sweat-proof, bottle of the highest SPF I can find.

While they complain, I’m am quick to inform them that back when I was a kid we didn’t have cool things like spray-on sunscreen. We only had old-fashioned sunscreen that your mom had to rub and rub into your skin until it had all soaked in. The whole process felt like it took forever, especially when all of your friends were already in the pool.

My kids have no idea how good they’ve got it. How my mom ever made it through the summers without Cartoon Network and spray-on sunscreen I’ll never know.

I don’t think that I wore anything over an 8 SPF when I was a kid. Sunscreen that was waterproof, sweat-proof, and hypoallergenic that contained a SPF of 70 was unheard of. Only red heads and people allergic to the sun wore than much sunscreen. I saw new born babies who never wore anything over a 10 SPF.

This was at least a little better than my parents’ generation. Their generation never wore sunscreen. The whole concept of SPF (Sun Protection Factor) wasn’t even around until 1962. The Beach Boys were singing “Surfin’ Safari” and the last thing that anyone was worried about was too much sun exposure.

My mom had a little bout of skin cancer recently. Luckily it was nothing major; just a little spot on her nose. Nothing that a little cream and ten visits to her dermatologist couldn’t fix.
I’ve read all of the articles and reports of the importance of wearing sunscreen every day, all day, but in the past I’ve done little to heed their warnings. All of those articles didn’t make much of an impact, but my mom walking about town with a huge band-aid on her nose sure did.

I’m careful to spray my boys down before school each day. I spray them down before outdoor sporting events and before every swimming lesson. They grumble and gripe and complain and I find myself uttering the words that make me sound older than I actually am.

“You’ll thank me for this later.”

Something recently dawned on me. I’m outside watching those soccer and the tennis lessons. I’m on the side of the pool during those swimming lessons. I’m out running the neighborhood while my kids are running around during recess. They’ve been sprayed down for protection. I, unfortunately, have not.

So the last few weeks, I’ve forgone spraying myself with Chanel No. 5 and have started spraying myself down with Coppertone No. 70 instead.

And to me, it smells just as good.

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