Monday, June 29, 2009

Dammit

Is "bee"-ing outside the best part of summer?

I went to a baseball game and got sunburned. I have a fair complexion, but I was prepared, or so I thought. I covered myself in Coppertone Sports waterproof SPF 45 and sat in the sun for three hours. I even wore a cap so I wouldn't sunburn my head.

I don't know how I wore the sunscreen off my knees. There wasn't enough legroom to cross my legs, so I didn't rub it off that way. Maybe I rested my elbows on my knees and leaned forward, but that sounds pretty uncomfortable and I think I'd remember doing that. Frankly, I have no idea how my knees got sunburned with SPF 45 on them, but they did, two large, beet-red circles on my otherwise white legs.

I went to another baseball game with my son the next day and once again doused myself in SPF 45, and this time I paid extra attention to my knees. They may have been protected from more burn, but they stung like hell when the early afternoon sun hit them. Necessity being the mother of invention, I reached into my stadium seat's largest pocket and pulled out two sheets of typing paper. I probably should have checked to see if they contained information I might need again some day, like Mapquest directions home from the ballpark, but all I could think about was how much my knees hurt.

I took each sheet of paper, laid it lengthwise atop each leg and rolled it around the top of the leg, protruding out over the knee like a little porch, then slid it under the legs of my shorts a couple of inches to hold it in place. It worked like a charm so long as I didn't stand up. Instantly, my knees stopped stinging.

I noticed my son was staring at me.

"What?" I asked.

"Dad, you look like a dork."

"I don't care", I told him. "My knees don't hurt, anymore."

He shook his head and leaned away from me, trying to look like he had come to the game with the guy sitting on his other side.

I went fly fishing with my son a few days later and, having learned my lesson, I put on loads of SPF 45. I reapplied several times during the day, being careful to cover both knees. I didn't get sunburned. I did, however, get mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes bit my left forearm in nine places. Nine! I also got one bite on the back of my neck, but it was the exception. None of my other exposed appendages were bitten. I have no idea why the mosquitoes only bit my left forearm; you'd have to ask them. I suspect that someone just hadn't read the attack plan. You know, you can ask ten guys to meet you at Burger King and there will be one guy every time who calls you from Hardee's and wants to know why everyone else is late.

I was awakened very early the next morning by my arm itching so badly that I threw it straight up into the air and fiercely rubbed it with my other hand. Unfortunately, when I threw my arm into the air, I knocked the lampshade off the lamp on my bedside table and woke up my wife.

Purely by chance, I had my annual appointment with the dermatologist the following day and she winced when she saw my bites. She suggested cortisone and gave me two small sample tubes of prescription strength cortisone cream. I applied the ointment to the bites just twice and the itching went away entirely. The bites are brown now, who knows why, but at least they don't itch.

Today, I needed to work in the yard, though the temperature was in the nineties. I doused myself with SPF 45 and waited for it to dry. When it did, I sprayed myself all over with DeepWoods Off, you know, 40% DEET. I wore a cap to protect my scalp and put on sunglasses, just in case. I even sprayed the cap with Off.

I had been working outside for maybe five minutes when a bee stung my left calf.

So, yeah. It's summer.

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Dirk Cotton is a retired executive of a Fortune 500 technology company. Since retiring in 2005, he has researched and published papers on retirement finance, spoken at retirement industry conferences and events, and regularly posted on retirement finance issues at his blog, The Retirement Cafe. He is currently a Thought Leader at APViewpoint, Advisor Perspectives' online community of  investment advisors and financial planners. He provides retirement planning advice as a fee-only financial planner.

Mr. Cotton holds an undergraduate degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky, an MBA from Marymount University, and a certificate in financial planning from Boston University.

He and his family currently reside in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He loves to spend time with his family, fly fish, shoot sporting clays, attend college baseball games, sail, follow the Wildcats, and write.

Dirk holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Kentucky, an MBA from Marymount University, and a certificate in financial planning from Boston University.  He attended high school in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

email: JDCPlanning@gmail.com