2023-01-20 - 1:23 p.m.

There was a brief moment a couple months ago where I started having the feeling that everything I've done in my life, right or wrong, had put me on the exact path I needed to be on finally. I've never had that feeling before. But it did seem like for one fleeting second, my life in shambles notwithstanding, I was moving forward to perfection. Well, that little bubble of fantasy is over. I don't know if it's just the impenetrable gray of winter this year that is compounding all my fear, anxiety, sadness and regret into a more dense ball of despair than usual, or what (oh, I don't know, my mother has terminal cancer, I have a broken back, my new job isn't progressing as well as I need it to, my car has 240,000 miles on it, my house is in desperate need of repair, my cats are getting very old...)I have a lot on my plate right now and I need to get back to that feeling that my every movement was inching me towards something perfect.

So. I went to the tanning bed today to try to infuse even just the merest portion of my soul with some light and warmth.

This is the third time this winter that I've been to the tanning bed. I will go to the tanning bed a couple times a year when I need a boost. I'll go for just a very minimal amount of time, just enough to stimulate vitamin d production but not toast my old lady skin more than I already have toasted it with all my sun worshiping. But this year, man, this weather in Michigan has been dreadful. There isn't even any snow. It's just been months of gray and damp, cold air. I haven't resorted to buying a package at the tanning bed yet, but I foresee it happening. For two reasons. One, I can't stand this depression and two, the owners of this tanning bed are fucking hilarious and I go into a whirl of delight every time I visit there. I become speechless when I go in there because I just can't believe the absolute perfection of their parody. The first time I went there I was greeted by a petite, young woman who was very well spoken and very much in charge and capable. She was getting me put into the computer and telling me about their packages and the differences between beds and that sort of thing when her mother came strolling up to the desk from the back and asked me, me, which pair of shoes I liked better and shoved her phone screen in my face. I told her I liked the silver pair the best and, trying to be on my best social behavior, asked her what the occasion was. And that led into me finding out that her other daughter bought some shoes for her winter formal and claimed the shoes they had bought a couple months prior for the event, on sale, didn't fit anymore. Which the mother didn't believe and so I asked if her daughter had lost weight because every time I lose or gain weight, my shoe size changes. And she lit right up and grabbed my arm and said, "she did!" And oh, golly, she thought I was the smartest person on the planet and she talked my ear off for a good five minutes about absolutely nothing until her daughter (the petite girl behind the desk) politely told her mother that she needed to get me going because school was getting out and they were about to get busy with appointments. The next time I went in there I was greeted by a very bedraggled and apparently drunk, man in a track suit. I was caught off guard and, frankly, creeped out a bit. He began talking about his daughter. He told me she usually works the tanning bed but he had sent her to Vegas with her friends and paid for all the bells and whistles for them. I was finally released from his detailing of the trips he sends her on and how much money he gives her for whatever she wants whenever she wants and I somewhat cautiously crawled into my tanning bed for 7 minutes of light while clutching my phone in my hand and listening to him outside my door muttering to himself. It was all very strange. I told my neighbor about this whole thing and he didn't believe me so I told him to stop in there and see for himself. Which he did. Unfortunately the man wasn't there. However, a few days later, my neighbor and I went to breakfast and decided to take a walk afterwards and we wandered by the tanning bed and sure enough, the man was wandering around in front of the building talking to himself. When we walked by again he was pacing the hallway between the tanning rooms and obviously talking to himself and gesticulating wildly. My story gained merit in the eyes of my neighbor. We have created an entire story around this man and his family that becomes more and more hilarious by the day. Anyway, today I went and was greeted by the wife. She had two take out containers of Taco Bell in front of her and a burrito in her hand from which she was taking giant bites out of while talking to a woman who was obviously impatient to get into her tanning session. The talk, which I was quickly pulled into, was about what a dump the Whitelake Marshall's had become and how Macy's at twelve oaks mall was nothing more than a garage sale. I just stared, wide eyed and unfortunately didn't retort with something like, "macy's is a straight up ghetto fire!". When she finally released the other woman to her session, she continued talking to me and asked if I minded if she finished her food while she was talking. And then told me that she had to tan everyday or else her daughter told her that she looked jaundiced. And I told her she didn't look jaundiced because her eyes and gums and ears would be yellow and she got all excited and said her smarty pants daughter thinks she knows everything and won't she be surprised to know that. Anyway, I was finally released to tan and it was wonderful. Hopefully the rest of my day goes as well.


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