Dark Secrets of the Fake N' Bake

by Jacob Licht | 2/9/99 6:00am

I popped my Don Pepe's frozen pizza pocket in my toaster oven and read the directions on the back: Remove plastic wrapper and place pocket inside oven. Heat on 350 for five minutes. Turn over and heat opposite side for two to three minutes or until brown and crispy. I did as instructed and sat back while my snack warmed up. And then a question dawned on me: How many pizza pockets do I know here at Dartmouth?

To tan or not to tan. For many Dartmouth students, that is the question. I know, I know, that is impossible. Why would anyone want to be treated like a pizza pocket? But to make sure that the rumors were true (and that the "glow" on people's faces were not from weekend jaunts to the Bahamas), I decided to do some investigative work. So, I gave Hanover Hot Tubs a telephone call. Before the employee I spoke with caught on that perhaps I wasn't doing a "stats project," I managed to learn much, perhaps more than I wanted to. It seems like my duty to pass this information on to the rest of the non-tanning Dartmouth community.

First, each session, costing $5, usually entails 15 minutes of "cooking time." Longer sessions are available for the more experienced tanner, but Hanover Hot Tubs has a 20 minute "cooking time limit." You know, for safety reasons. However, my confidante hinted that some of the more "hard core" (his words) go over this limit. According to him, many customers "get cooked" five to six times a week, and the majority of his clientele come in at least three times a week. He hinted of various club packages, discounts and other perks that come along with being a regular tanner. (I pretended to be thoroughly impressed.) He also said that up to 90 percent of his clients (which included both men and women) were Dartmouth students and that his regular clients numbered at least 200 (he could not provide an exact figure.) Finally, I asked him if he had a "top ten" list of the best and the darkest (a rumor that I have heard), but he refused to confirm that the list existed. At this point in t

he conversation, he started getting suspicious of my motives. When I asked him who held the record for "longest tan," he hung up.

The evidence is hard to face, but face it we must. It seems clear that we are among tanners. And they are not few or far between. In fact, I have a feeling that some of my good friends are near the top of that list. So, what do I do? What do we, as non-tanners, do? Being another youth thoroughly indoctrinated with the ways of liberalism, I want to embrace all creeds, beliefs, orientations, etc. Therefore, once the shock has subsided, my first instinct is to try and think like a tanner. But I am struggling, yes struggling, with the notion of spending my afternoons (or mornings or whenever "official tan time" is) lying under the same hot lamp that keeps my cheese steak warm in food court. And what if I get overdone? If don't like my KFC extra crispy, I sure as hell don't want my butt that way.

But hey maybe I am the crazy one here. Perhaps my Scandinavian background precludes me from fully understanding the novelty of glowing skin. Nevertheless, the big question must be asked: What does it say about us all when our peers and our friends are paying money to nominally change their appearance while at the same time increasing their risk of skin cancer? Sure, people smoke, drink, abuse drugs, etc. But these are addictive habits. Is tanning something you can be addicted to? Growing up in L.A., I had plenty of experience with the sun at the beach. Sure, the sun felt great, but I never got the shakes when darkness fell. And now that I am in this "winter wonderland," I never break out into a cold sweat or start dry heaving because I am in "tan withdrawal." So if it is not addicting, where is the appeal? Has our appearance become so fundamental to how we judge someone that drastic measures like regularly killing your skin can be rationalized? Whatever happened to natural beau

ty? And think about how baffled or disturbed all of the non-white people among us must be by the practice of artificially changing your skin color?

Obviously, very few of my questions have easy answers. None of us can be guiltless. This preoccupation with superficial beauty is a side effect of the "90210 syndrome" that we are all a part of and we all buy into in different ways. So I apologize to my tanning friends for picking on them. But, I just don't understand how someone could jump in an oven every week. As for the guy at Hanover Hot Tubs, sorry bro.

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