Friday, July 16, 2010

Sense Memory -- brought on by Coconut Oil

We used to go to the Health Food Store . . . nowadays, we have Whole Foods and independent organic markets like my own local Weaver Street Market and we take it for granted that we can buy healthier, non-corporate foods so easily. But back then, back in the 80s, that decade of free love and big bad hair and some not so bad music (think Talking Heads, Blondie, and The Clash), we had to go to the Health Food Store in Westport to procure something that made worshiping the sun that much more effective -- pure unfiltered coconut oil. Now you can schmear yourself with Tropic This and South of The Equator That containing essence of coconut oil, but if you truly want to fry yourself like a trout in a cast iron pan on the beach, you need to buy a mason jar of Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I remember sitting on Compo Beach in my bikini with the girl who taught me this ancient tanning secret -- a girl named Karen D. -- she was an artist, the grand-daughter of a man who illustrated for the Saturday Evening Post. She was buxom and zaftig and her cheek bones were high and her hair was dirty blond and her eyes were green and magical. She was earthy, maybe unearthly, and she knew the secret of unadulterated coconut oil. We were not the cool girls. We were not the popular girls. We were not cheerleaders or daughters of CEOs. We were born of townies! We were quiet and shy and awkward and slightly depressed but we were lovelier than we even knew, probably. We took that jar of coconut oil that practically smoked with its clarity in the hot summer sun on the shores of Compo and we soaked our shoulders and our bellies and thighs and shins and the smalls of our young backs in that stuff and then we forgot to set the timer and we fell asleep in the sun and when we woke to the coming evening, filled with the possibility of fake i.d.'s and strange boys brushing their rough faces against our soft necks, we were the color of something akin to the skin of a Brazil Nut. There was no burn, no redness, just a deep beautiful tawny hue. Our Yankee New England grandmothers were appalled with us when we returned home and murmured something about girls wearing hats and pale skin being considered more blue-blood, but we hurried down the hallways of our childhood homes and admired how white the whites of our eyes appeared and how green the green of our eyes appeared and we pulled back our long hair and marched out into the evening tinged with coconut and solar blessings.

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