Skip to content

Watch out for the Easy Bake Oven in the sky

So if by some miracle we get rid of the rain, the wind, the various storms and the relentless attack mosquitoes and we are finally rewarded with a blazing hot, pavement-melting, bikini-baking day or two of something called “summer sunshine”, then guess what happens?

So if by some miracle we get rid of the rain, the wind, the various storms and the relentless attack mosquitoes and we are finally rewarded with a blazing hot, pavement-melting, bikini-baking day or two of something called “summer sunshine”, then guess what happens?

Many of us weather-deprived humans have been known to overreact when Mr. Sun comes out and go a little crazy by exposing ourselves (in a completely legal sense) to the intense heat rays. Many do this on purpose.

There are those who flock directly to lakes and beaches at the first inkling of plus 25 C or more and shed as much clothing as lawfully possible to lie on towels, sizzling away for hours at a time. This is either a very enjoyable ritual to witness or a disturbing image that is difficult to remove from one’s brain, depending entirely on who is sizzling away half naked, if you get my drift.

Either way, the sizzlers remain prone, cooking away until you’re expecting someone to come along with a giant pancake flipper and turn her or him over. (It’s usually a “her” on account of most of the guys are too busy checking out the sunbathing girls to remain stationary in the sun themselves for any length of time.)

This can’t be good for you, but who am I to judge. I’m one of those who can’t stand the heat — that’s why I stay out of the kitchen. I’ve never been an overly-enthusiastic sun worshipper, so when the sun cranks up the blast furnace and bakes us faraway humans on planet Earth, I tend to bask in an air conditioned car or building, or at the very least, in the shade of the nearest tree.

It is an astronomical marvel though, isn’t it? One of my rotten kids and I were discussing this phenomenon the other day after she got a sunburn at the lake. The fact that a huge burning ball in the sky can fry human skin from 150 million km away is another one of those mind-bogglers that defies comprehension ­— at least in my tiny sunburned brain.

Some 150 million km is an awfully long way away — about the same distance that it feels like to drive from here to Regina, but all that heat is travelling at the speed of light, which is very fast indeed and means that it only takes about 8 ½ minutes to get from the sun to the Earth. About the time it takes sensible people to dig out and apply the 60 SPF sunscreen to everyone in the family.

There was a time when sunscreen consisted of potions and lotions with names like Coppertone and Mazola Oil that people put on not to protect their skin, but to enhance and accelerate the skin-cooking process so that their skin would burn a dangerous brown colour instead of a dangerous red colour.

This was about the time of the infamous Waterton Lakes Sunstroke Incident, which is very likely the reason the blazing sun and I don’t get along so well.

I’ll never forget the time our Gaetz Avenue Dance Band was playing a weekend at Waterton, and the days were hotter than the hubs of hell as my uncle used to say. Most of us spent the blazing hot Saturday outside wandering around in hiking shorts, with no shirts, no shoes (and no service), our skinny lily white bodies attracting the harmful UV light rays like fluorescent sunburn magnets.

The smarter bandmates spent most of the day in the pub — not imbibing mind you, but engaged in a lengthy and exciting impromptu foosball tournament against all challengers which, by the way, they very nearly won. And unlike us, they were in a place that was safely air conditioned with ready access to hydration.

It wasn’t until about the time we entered the dance hall that evening that a couple of us realized something was seriously wrong. When we changed into our stage clothes in the dressing rooms, we were like the burning Beet People, practically radiating bright red, like flashing fire alarm lights — the temperature of the room rising significantly just from our sunburned skin alone.

And not only that, every inch of skin hurt like you wouldn’t believe, and if we could have gone on stage in our underwear we would have, although that would have no doubt cleared the room immediately.

Luckily someone had a can of something called Solarcaine Spray which helped a bit, but suffice it to say it was a long and painful night of trying to play high-energy music for a full crowd without moving.

I don’t remember much about that night, on account of round about the break after the first set, I began to feel sicker that a proverbial dog, and spent every available moment for the rest of the night laying on the dressing room floor with a cold cloth on my head, deliriously spraying Solarcaine on random crimson body parts.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced any degree of sunstroke, but it’s not fun at all and tends to be a significant deterrent to the physical exertion that it takes to play loud music for four hours for a throng of crazy partiers.

There are only a few things I can recall about that woozy, excruciatingly sunburned weekend.

• The songs that hurt the most to play were by Chicago, the Doobie Brothers, and Cold Blood, which I barely got through.

• I got sick all over my shoes just before the last set. (Luckily I was in the dressing room at the time.)

• The Hall we played at was a grand old building very much like Varsity Hall at Sylvan Lake, and it made me feel a little better just being there.

There must be a lesson in there somewhere. It either has something to do with being very careful with the giant Easy Bake Oven in spite of it being 150 million km away, or with making sure to spend the hottest days playing foosball when you’re in Waterton Lakes.

I’m not exactly sure though, it’s all still a little fuzzy.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate.