Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Mentos Moment

Given that I live in a beach town, you'd think I'd own sunscreen. And given that I I'd just been invited to step out to the beach with the amassed group of college friends in Santa Barbara this weekend — code name: "Reunionsauce" — you'd think I would have brought that sunscreen with me. However, with mere moments before the train of cars was to deliver the group to East Beach, I stood sunscreenless, in apparent invitation of the sunnier side of cancer.

"Hold on, I'll check if they sell sunscreen at the liquor store down the street," I said.

That's the usual plan for this neighborhood. If lacking any necessary item, check this one particular liquor store, where the nice Syrians who work behind the counter will happily point you in the direction of said thing. Lightbulbs, tea bags, batteries, Mr. Clean, marinara sauce, condoms, cheapie sunglasses, Ben & Jerry's, scouring pads, notepads, corn pads and, of course, alcohol. On occasion, however, the store may lack a product — possibly because it is out of stock or possibly because the owners aren't familiar enough with American culture to know what it is. (When I bought mustard, for example, I had to explain to the owner what I planned to do with it. "Like ketchup?" he asked. "Even better," I promised him. I also once had to tell him what Gas-X did.) So I go in and ask for sunscreen, which, after some explanation, Mr. Counter Man recognizes as something that exists but he says he have it. "We probably should," he said. I thank him and leave, preparing to bare my skin to the elements.

As I walk down the sidewalk, however, I hear someone shout. I turn around and see that it's the guy who was standing behind me in line, who I only noticed before because he had the kind of surfery blond hair you'd see on villainous preps in 80s movies. And those are the kinds of things I notice. This guy, now sporting shades, is driving his royal blue convertible the same direction as I'm walking, with his rockstar girlfriend in the passenger seat. He repeats what he said earlier: "Dude, do you need sunscreen?" And mutter out that I do. Then, without having even hardly slowed his car, he whips a bottle of sunscreen that spins through the air and gracefully lands exactly where my hand is in the impossible way that should only happen in commercials. And then he speeds away before I can even thank him.

I can't actually believe that it happened, not so much because other people aren't allowed to be so movie magical smooth but more that my awkwardness usually brings even the flawless down a notch or so. And to give an example of that tendency, I'm going to add the following epilogue to this story.

Yes, Joe Cool did technically toss a bottle of sunscreen into my hand. And I did use it to prevent my face from taking on a tomato-like appearance. However, my associates and I examined the bottle during the car ride, principally to make sure allegedly Bullfrog-brand sun goop was just that and not, in fact, goopified poison. We noted that the bottle specified the sunscreen as a kid's product, which struck as strange because the guy who tossed the bottle couldn't have been more than a year older than me. We came to the conclusion that he and Rockstar Girlfriend were actually child murderers who in giving me the bottle had actually shed the last remaining shred of evidence from their latest "project." Now it has my fingerprints all over it. I'm screwed and the fashionable murderers are probably halfway to Mexico as I type this.

Oh, and Sanam and Aemon were among those visiting. I'm not clear why they came here, but I think they may have been married in Isla Vista.

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