…and off to Hannibal we went.
It was hot, both inside and outside the Concord. And when I say hot outside, I mean hot and moist. St. Louis is a “sweat in the morning, frizzy hair, don’t touch me, peel your moist skin off the vinyl” place most of the summer. I don’t know why God thought, “sure the Midwest gets hot, but it’s just not sticky enough, let’s put the source of all things humid right there where those two rivers come together….muuuuhahahahahahahaaaaa” but he did. St. Louis’ summers are the result of his fine work. However, we had our goal in mind and we were determined to spend the day in watery, cool fun.
We took turns driving the 90 minute trip north so that no one person had to endure the licking tongues of flame on the passenger side for too long. After a long car ride. We arrived, hot and sweaty, and ready for cool. And it was a great day. We slid, dunked, lapped, submerged, sprayed, splashed and rode the waves…for about 12 hours.
We also scoped. Anyone know what that is? I’ll let you guess, but I’ll give you a hint that pasty white skin on a half naked, very thin dude doesn’t help…at all. Anyway, we had a great time until it got too dark to see and the lifeguards escorted us off the premises.
We threw our stuff back into the kiln and headed off to get something to eat. Again, we spent the 20 minute ride back to Hannibal in dreadful heat. I mean it was really hot, “Holy crap balls, does it seem hotter in here? It’s supposed to be cooler now that the Sun has gone down.” “Yes, it’s hot, and you’re not the one sitting in the hot seat.” “Yea, but man, it’s hot anyway.” “It’s this stupit car that we drove all the way to stupit Hannibal.” “Shut your stupi-ndous face, there’s Ponderosa man, let’s eat there.”
We got out of the car and walked into the entrance of Ponderosa. About three steps into the joint we stopped. Everyone in the store, including the employees, were looking at us. It was more of a slack jawed stare filled with wide eyes and horror. You know, the look that always follows an intense record scratch and a gasp of breath…that kind of stare.
It was at this point that I turned my head and looked at Todd. Todd, the only one of us that tans, was beet red. Stop sign red. Candy apple red. Sun-freakin’-burn red. I stared at him for a second, turned my head back to the Hannibal Ponderosa community and gulped. If tan-man Todd was that red, I was pretty sure pasty-white Clay wasn’t going to survive the night. I immediately felt my skin begin to suck all of the moisture out of the restaurant. As we approached the counter all of the ice melted in the soda machine. I also think I heard someone cry out “IT BURNS!!! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, IT BURNS!!!” but I can’t verify that. I was a little preoccupied and trying to act like every pore in my body wasn’t shooting flames into the atmosphere We ate with very little conversation and a couple of times I had to scream, “I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!!” But I really can’t blame the people, Gary and Todd looked like human heat lamps. I think a few people reheated their meals under our chins.
After we finished eating we sizzled back to the Concord and drove the rest of the way home. It was a long, hot drive where we took turns hanging our heads out the window and then pulling them in because the wind felt like needles. I spent most of my time hovering above my seat to avoid being burned at the stake while trying not to let my shirt, that felt like 30 grit sandpaper raking across my fried skin, touch me in anyway. The conversation was thin due to the open window and the heat and the 3rd degree burns, but we eventually made it home.
It was a few long days of blisters and Aloe Vera and feeling sick. Sunburn sick is not fun. For those of you who know, I’m sorry I had to bring it up. For those of you who don’t, think of a flu where you spend a lot of time in a cold bath and there is a need to have a fan constantly blowing a cool breeze across your smoldering flesh, but not too much lest the air begins to feel like knives stabbing at your well done carcass. After the sickness passes, you get to enjoy the blisters and the peeling skin, large transparent sheets of yourself peeling off not once but twice or three times before your skin decides it will heal only to leave you four thousand more freckles in honor of your summer adventure. Fun stuff.
That was the end of my severe sunburn days. After I had healed, I vowed to become an avid user of the sunscreen that comes in a pink bottle with a baby’s butt hanging out of her swimtrunks and wouldn’t you know that even a thick coating of 50+ sunscreen is not enough to protect me from a burn if I’m in the sun too long. Why I don’t live deep in a cave with the walking undead is beyond me.
Then again, I am pretty hot.