Although Nationals doesn't officially start until Wednesday evening at the Literacy Signing, most of the Playfriends are managing last minute details before we head off to DC. PC is already gone on some pre-conference site seeing. The rest of us are going a couple days early for the official Smarty Pants's Whirlwind DC tour.
This means the chaos has firmly set in. Despite our planning, our packing lists, our shopping trips and fashion shows, this is the point where everything unravels. Items go missing. Last minute laundry. Grocery store runs to stock up on frozen pizzas to feed the family left behind. Scrambling for manicures and pedicures. Picking up clothes from the tailor or the dry cleaner. Hair appointments and other grooming requirements. For me, the chaos will also include a stop for spray tanning.
I don't tan. Almost not at all. I just turn red, peel, then go back to the same pasty shade I started with. I learned the hard way that its just not in my cards to have a healthy golden glow. Whenever I feel the need to knock a bit off my neon white, I hit the spray tanning booth. I've done it several times in the past with success. I don't turn orange and I don't get so dark that people notice. Its just a nice bit of color.
So I go to the tanning place. I pay for my tan. They take me back to the new machine they've put in. Cool, I think. She informs me the machine will guide me through the process which is a little more complicated than the old one. I get naked, put on the special lotion so I don't end up with freaky hands and knees, put on the paper covers for my hair and feet, then hop inside. I get into the starting position, hit the button, and we begin.
The machine starts to spray. It is supposed to do 4, 30-second sprays while I rotate a quarter turn each time. I hold my breath and wait for it to stop so I can turn to the next position. It stops. All is going well, it seems. Then, it announces in a polite, feminine voice that does not betray my problem...
"Please see attendant."
What? What do you mean, please see attendant?? I'm naked, half-tanned, covered in blocking lotion with a ridiculous looking bonnet on and it wants me to go down the hall in a too-small towel and retrieve the 17 year old girl working at the front desk? Are you kidding me?
Apparently the answer is no. The machine does not have a sense of humor, so it does not follow up with the phrase "Gotcha! Just messing with you, please turn to position 2." So, without an alternative, I get my towel and do as instructed. The two girls working there (who I must assume do not have electrical engineering degrees) hit some buttons, unplug the machine, and decide, after maxing out their troubleshooting techniques, that its broken. Broken. I do not have time for this.
As though this happens every day, they calmly informed me that my only option was to drive across town to the second (and only) location with a spray booth that works. And to do it in the next hour before they closed. I declined. They then recommended I go home immediately and shower, exfoliating well to remove any of the spray tanner. And they'll gladly credit my account for when I want to come back. Come back?! Sadly, the truth is that I probably will since its the only place in town that does it.
As though I don't already have enough to worry about, I have to rush home at the speed of light to scrub off the spray tanner that is busily bronzing ONE HALF of my body so I don't end up looking a fool at conference. That is not the way I want to make impressions on people in the business, you know? I blow past DB without speaking and march upstairs to bathe. He follows me up and I have to admit to the incident through the frosted glass shower door. I can still hear him laughing.
Fortunately, I did not end up half tanned. I scrubbed hard and I think the machine's breakdown caused it not to spray too well to begin with. I would not have heard the end of it from DB, much less the other Playfriends, if I had shown up with half of me pasty, half of me 'kissed' with sun.
Any of you struggling through any last minute preparations? Any similar spray tanning snafus you'd like to share? I haven't had the best of luck with the home tanning lotions, either, but at least they don't break.
PS. Don't forget to pop in while we're gone next week for our answers to the questions submitted by our readers.
PSS. Virginia is Instigator's Winner from yesterday. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your autographed copy of Afterburn!