When Tropical Fish Attack: I Made A Really Stupid Sunscreen Mistake

Shimmery lotion is awesome. Shimmery lotion with SPF is even awesomer. But do not--I repeat--DO NOT wear it into the ocean.
Publish date:
March 28, 2013
shimmer, spf, sunscreens, vacations, Hawaiian Tropic

I spent a very long time living in Florida. So long, in fact, you’d think I had the whole “tropical living” act down pat. Unfortunately, that was proven to not be the case when my vanity recently head-butted my intelligence and I almost ended up DEAD IN THE WATER. Well, not really, but keep reading.

Just about everyone who grows up in tropical weather gets a fungus called tinea versicolor. It’s not communicable, and it won’t kill you or anything, so nobody panic. Its main symptom is lighter-colored spots on the skin, and you may have noticed it on people wearing bathing suits or (preferably) nothing.

My Auntie told me years ago that it happens when you leave a wet bathing suit on too long. I’m not sure if this is true, but needless to say, I’ve had entire years where all I wore was a wet bathing suit, and I'm covered in spots, so it’s possible. But please still feel free to hug me or shake my hand--I’m not a leper.

I find shimmery lotion helps camouflage the spots, not to mention, as an aging raver, I pretty much have a PhD in glitter. (Actually, please start calling me Dr. Sparkle.) On the red carpet, I even my skin out with Burt’s Bees Radiance Body Lotion. Its shimmer catches the light of the photographers’ flash bulbs and evens out my skin. Alas, it doesn’t have SPF, so I can’t wear it on the beach. Plus, it’s so fragrant, I just know it’ll attract mosquitoes, who already feast on me like an epidermal smorgasbord.

So, I, thinking “I’M SUCH A GENIUS,” went hunting for a sunscreen with shimmer in it for a trip to Panama. My bright idea was to glow it up, to not only hide my spots, cellulite, veins, etc., but also not die of skin cancer.

I found just the thing at my local drugstore: Hawaiian Tropic Shimmer Effect Lotion SPF 20. It goes on smoothly, doesn’t leave a white film, smells like spring break, and beautifully evened out my skin.

After stepping out of a well-aimed cloud of mosquito spray, I was ready to hit the beach.

In the natural light, my skin had lovely sheen, but I didn’t look overly glittery or anything. A BBQ commenced, champagne bottles burst open, and merriment ensued on the beautiful beaches of the Pearl Islands.

Eventually, people were wandering into the warm, aquamarine water. I’m really never one to go swimming, as the Jaws theme has a tendency to pop into my head, even in the pool. But, emboldened by more than a few glasses of champagne, I approached the ocean.

Our group had really spread out, and I was alone for a good 100 feet in all directions. I waded into the water up to my waist, marveling at how clear it was. I could see the glitter polish on my toes!

I noticed the shimmery sunscreen looked different in the water. The underwater environment coupled with refracted light seemed to turn my body into a gilded award show statuette. I stood there, taking it all in, watching the waves lapping lazily on the beach, lilting sounds of salsa music in the distance. The hot sun, the sky blue sky...

SWISH! The sound snapped me out of my dreamlike haze, and in HORROR I turned to see three fish the size of footballs jumping out of the water at a horizontal angle ten feet away from me. They seemed to hang mid-air like Michael Jordan and turn to point their razor-sharp-looking noses right at me.

Then, when they hit the water again, they swam RIGHT FOR ME at a terrifying speed, making a whizzing sound through the water. It sounded like scissors slicing through wrapping paper, except not at all festive.

I RAN, which is hard, because, you know, water. So, it was more like I lunged, sputtered and splashed my way onto the beach, screaming the whole way. Was anyone there to save me? NO. They were all way up the beach drinking the rest of the champagne.

I threw myself out of the water onto the powder-soft sand. I swear, those fish swam right up to the waterline, and glared at me with their big, giant fish eyes. Do fish growl? I’m pretty sure they were growling.

At this point, my boyfriend, Jared, noticed I was flailing about and came over. I told him about my near-death experience, and laughing, he said, “Well, what did you expect? Tropical fish are attracted to shiny things. Your skin is golden, your toes are silver, and even your bathing suit has metal on it.”

My boyfriend poking fun at my sun-bunny stupidity in his charming British accent was enough to stop my heart from racing and make me feel like a moron.

A glass of champagne later, and after scrubbing my shimmer off with wet sand, I was back in the ocean--this time with a handsome escort, just in case.

I’ll be saving the Shimmer Effect Lotion for the pool.