Being tan never came easy for me. Oh, no. I had to work at it, people.

And work at it I did. My childhood winters were wiled away on unlimited-months-at-a-time sessions at Sunsations Tanning; summers were spent slathering my pasty-ass skin with iodine-laced baby oil and “laying out” on metallic mattresses. Never mind the fact that that shit got scary-fucking-hot and also I was wasting countless hours of my life obsessing about whether or not my towel was at the exactly-perfect-angle to ensure even bronzing. There was the cause to consider. In my adolescent book–the one with George Hamilton on the cover–you couldn’t be too rich, too thin or too gloriously, gorgeously tan.

Eventually I saw the errors of my ways. And by “errors of my ways” I mean miles of saggy, splotchy, wrinkly skin staring back at me in the mirror. After seeing pictures of my face through a photodamage camera (my eyes! they can never unsee it!) I swung hard the other way and became a Sunblock Nazi. Now I put it on head to toe every single day, even in the winter. I chase my kids around the house with it while extolling the virtues of pristine, cancer-free skin. I carry that crap in my purse, okay? I. Am. Reformed.

Except I still like to be tan. Not in that hilariously-horrible There’s Something About Mary way, but definitely in the Dancing with the Stars way. So I sometimes occasionally often spend a small fortune on self-tanning cream and usually I feel pretty good about the results. Sure, it smells like sewage and I can’t reach my back so there’s always a big milky bulls-eye in the middle of it and my ankles frequently look like I’ve been dancing in Dorito dust, but from a distance it’s passable. Plus, a fake-tan hides a lot of sins.

So then my friend Barb suggested we get spray tans. It won’t be bad, she said. We can stand in front of a total stranger, buck naked save for a pair of disposable┬ápanties fashioned from four square inches of paper and a foot of dental floss, and let her bathe our saggy bodies in a cloud of toxic orange chemicals together, she said! It might even be fun.

I don’t know about you, but my idea of fun rarely has this in the middle of it: “Can you lift your boobs any higher? No? Well then maybe bend forward a little. Maybe a little more. Oh, never mind.”

When the nice lady was done airbrushing parts of my body my gynecologist has never seen, I looked in the mirror. Already I had a nice little tan line. I swooned at the sight of me.

I drove home, ridiculously pleased with myself.

Then I undressed. Huh, that’s funny, I thought as I inspected my backside. That little t-bar where my paper panties were looks awfully high. In fact, it sort of looks like it’s halfway up my back. But that can’t be. Because if it were, you’d see it when I put on my bikini.

So I put on my bikini to check.

Nobody will notice, right?

*Please note, my bikini bottom is not tugged down in that picture for comedic purposes. That is where it sits. I‘m thinking of bedazzling the T and just going with it, or maybe adding some eyes so it looks like a cool Southwestern skull tattoo. What do you think?