A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Today, I saw the first sign that yet another spring is steadily steaming towards summer. The tank tops have come out of their long winter hibernation. Soon, shorts will follow as millions of women (and more than a few men) shave, whack and cream away their winter pelts in preparation for partial nudity. From there, it’s only a matter of a few degrees and all that exposed flesh will start reeking of sunscreen in a sweet serenade to the solstice and beyond.
I have nothing against the human body; all of my friends have one. Nor do I mind summer, although it’s not my favourite season. However, I find it quite odd that every year our culture demands we take off most of our clothes in homage to the sun, then smear ourselves pasty with unidentifiable chemicals in paranoid protection against it. There’s an A in this logical train, and a B, but for the life of me, I can’t find C. I’m actually worried that future anthropologists will take one National Geographic-funded look at our society and conclude we were a stupid, frivolous people who worshipped flab. That would be the natural conclusion if our civilization meets its demise anytime between the end of May and Labour Day.
I can just imagine the 3D hologram documentary: a team of scientists digging up scores of corpses, all perfectly preserved (and permanently stuck together) by the SPF 60 embalming fluid we are imbibing through every pore. The monotone voiceover would be priceless. (Read this in a standard BBC accent.)
“We don’t know a lot about the Normerica people, really. However, from the data we’re finding, we can conclude that they spent most of their wealth on food. As you can see, they were abnormally fat and practically naked.”
“Why do you think they gathered around water?”
“We don’t know why exactly, but some evidence suggests they were trying to wash off this slimy crap we’re finding everywhere. Tissue samples show that this is probably the substance that killed them.”
“Other scientists have postulated that the Normericas actually used these dangerous chemicals to coat their bodies as part of a Death Cult ritual. What do you say to that?”
“Most serious scholars dismiss those theories as academic sensationalism. If there were any of these so-called Death Cults, they would most certainly have involved food. Just take a look at the size of these people and notice the family grouping — even the children. Look at the distended abdomen, the heavy thighs; here we see signs of adolescent cellulite. No, it’s quite apparent that food was the Normericas’ number one priority. Their whole lives revolved around it. We believe they discarded their clothes as a visual affirmation of their devotion to food. I doubt very much if they concerned themselves with the damage these chemicals were doing until it was too late. Of course, this is still speculation, but we hope this particular find will shed more light of the Normerican culture.”
“Thank you so much, Dr. Kardashian. This is Justin Bieber XVII, reporting live from the Pacific Coast outside Las Vegas, Nevada.”
It could happen!
I realize that we’re rubbing our way through the ozone layer at such an alarming rate that the rays of our life-giving sun are becoming dangerous to exposed flesh. I also realize that our society has developed a sophomore titillation with peekaboo, and since we abandoned discretion back when Paris Hilton was a puppy we need to protect ourselves. However, the logical solution is not an extended chemical bath — especially since, in the last two decades, we’ve collectively gained enough weight to populate a whole new country. Here’s the deal, folks. I don’t care what season it is, or how sexy you want to be, if you look like a stunt double from Free Willy the movie, cover yourself! Not only will you being doing yourself a favour by not playing hide and seek with melanoma, your neighbours will thank you. Perhaps not to your face but, believe me, they’ll appreciate your efforts. And guys, this includes painting yourself orange and showing up at football games with your shirt off – it’s not appealing. In fact, as Red Green once said, “You’re frightening the children and confusing the babies.”
I know summer’s coming, but this year, instead of spending tons of money on clothes that hardly cover what Mother Nature provided and greasing the rest of you up with God only knows what chemical concoction, could we just pause for a second and look in a mirror? As a man of the world (with an ever-increasing equator) I know of what I speak.