Almost half my life ago, when our three children were still small and I was with them 24/7, home-schooling, and babysitting two other small children while living in a two-story, kind-of-two-family house with my sister-in-law, her husband, and their six children one or two of which were usually in our portion of the house with all of us and the dog; way back then, I was easily bored. I had more energy then. Anyway, in the midst of my boredom, my best friend, Cheryl, decided it would be a good idea for us to be “Product Testers”.
Up to that point, I had no idea that “product testers” were a thing, because I’d never really thought about it before. Though I realize it’s one of those things that somebody has to do. Cheryl had been contacted about a test they were doing and they needed contact lens wearers. Since I wore contacts, she brought me along. Our first test was for eye shadow.
I have to admit I was a little scared. I would have to sign a paper promising that I would use the eye shadow they gave me and document my daily skin reactions if there were any. Being a fair-skinned redhead, my palette of makeup colors is limited at best and visions of Mimi from the Drew Carey Show kept popping into my mind. Cheryl laughed at this, and I was half-joking, but still, what would we do if our eye shadow was blue?
We got to the facility, filled out some papers, and picked up our, thank God, very neutral dingy beige eye shadow. It was then that Cheryl introduced me to the “Big Board”. There on a board the size of most of the wall, were all the different products available for testing along with the amount you would be paid for each. (Yes, even the eye shadow was a paying test. I was not about to donate my eyelids to science for free.) The amount of products was mind-boggling. The amount of monies to be earned was amazing. But, there was one product test that stood out to me more than all of the rest. One that only very special people could qualify for and I knew I had to try.
The sign for this product was just to the left of the Big Board on a door that led to a brightly lit room. I went in. Cheryl did not. She could not. Though I love her, I have to say, in some ways Cheryl is not as special as I am. You see, Cheryl can tan. This sign was asking for, “Fair-skinned people for Sunscreen testing.” See this picture? See the girl in this picture? No, not her, the one lying down. That is, essentially, me. It is safe to say that I pretty much glow in the dark and did even more so back then.
I opened the door and became an immediate celebrity. There was a woman at the front desk. When she saw me, her eyes lit up. I told her I was interested in the sunscreen testing. Her response, “Oh boy! Do you qualify!” I still had to take a test to determine how quickly I could burn. It was determined that I burn on contact. I was told, for the first and only time in my life, that I was a Number One. All this means is that when applying sunscreen that’s a number 15, I would burn after the 15 minutes were up. When higher numbers were involved, I was especially popular. Number 100 was my longest gig. I sat for 100 minutes and burned immediately after that. I got big bucks for that one!
They loved me at Sunscreen Testing. They called me every couple of weeks to come in and test a new product. I was making a fairly good amount of money for my ability to burn and I was quite pleased with myself. Mom thought it was a worthy cause, too! And then, I talked to my Dad. Rocco. The Old Italian. His interpretation on what I was doing was much different than my own. In my mind, I was helping fair-skinned people everywhere by allowing my “fairness” to be used for scientific research. To my Old Italian Dad, I was selling my body and it was, by his way of thinking, a form of prostitution. I thought he was joking. I was wrong. It was at that point that I decided what Dad didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him and I stopped telling him about my sunscreen testing prowess.
By the way, there are a faction of people out there that insist that any sunscreen number after an SPF of 30, is unnecessary. These words are spoken by people that tan. Don’t believe them. They don’t understand. Tanners gonna tan and to them sunscreen is really not that big a deal.