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When I get old, and spend my afternoons in a rocking chair in front of Web 1.0, my grand-bots will scramble up to me and ask me questions about life in the old days.

"Grandpa Rob?" They'll ask, "What was it like to go tanning?" 

"Well", I'll tell them. "It was great, definitely a fun thing to do. Back then, of course, we didn't know about the risks". 

I'll continue. "Tanned skin was associated with health and well-being, not wrinkles and skin cancer. Tanning salons even advertised that Vitamin UV helped prevent diseases like diabetes and syphilis."

Of course, I'll be lying. 

Last summer, in a fit of pasty-skinned recklessness, Stacy and I planned to conduct a little experiment. We wanted to compare real tanning with tan-in-a-can. (This photo of me as a vampire is supposed to represent "pale").

Real tanning came first. We drove around town looking for a tanning salon close to our house. There were a few, so we compared prices, cleanliness and the number of tanning beds available.

It was a lot like searching for a laundromat. We really didn't want to have to wait for an empty machine. Come to think of it, at a laundromat, you put your clothes into the machine, and at a tanning salon, you put your unclothed body into a different machine! Someone really ought to combine the two.


It didn't take long to choose Rae'z Body Craze on J Street. The sign makes it appear to be called "Pizza Tan", but that is not the actual name.

We signed up for three months unlimited tanning for $87 per person. Kids under 5 are free, so we didn't have to pay for our infant June.

Rae'z is a small place, with five tanning beds, one express bed, and one stand-up tanning booth. They had a comfortable couch in the waiting area, where either Stacy or I could sit with June while the other was tanning.

The day after we bought our membership, Stacy, June and I took some "before" photos and headed out to get a tan! 

When we signed up, they let us know that they did not allow just any tanning lotion. Only the lotion that was sold at the salon was to be used. Protective goggles were also required, but each of us got a free pair with our three-month paid-membership. The "only our lotion" policy seemed a little ridiculous, but I've heard this is true across the industry. The premise that "your no-name brand lotion could damage our tanning beds" will remain untested.

My brain was already having trouble processing the logic behind wearing tanning lotion to a tanning salon, and hearing that I'd have to buy the salon's boutique brand lotion was enough to shut down my cerebral spending centers completely.

The beds in the tanning salon are made up of two parts, a top and a bottom, which are each lined with Ultraviolet bulbs which look a lot like fluorescent bulbs.


There are 12 long bulbs (100 Watt Wolff Bellarium) along the top, and twelve along the bottom.

If I wanted my body to be exposed to any more light, I'd have to swallow a string of Christmas lights.

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August 9, 2006  .

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