The sun: Life-bringer or homicidal jerk?

By Rory McCarty

It’s only in summertime that I remember what a jerk the sun is.

“Hold the proverbial phone,” you say. “Isn’t the sun the only thing that warmed our planet for millions of years? Isn’t it one of the primary components of photosynthesis in plants, forming one of the basic structures in the food chain of higher life forms? Isn’t it perhaps a proponent of evolution and the only reason that we’re sitting here today reading nonsense articles in the student newspaper? Isn’t the sun revered by ancient cultures as a god for just these reasons?”

Geez you talk a lot. Yes, I suppose, the sun does all of those things. But let me tell you this: Have you ever paid six bucks for a delicious cup of Dippin’ Dots only to have it melt into chocolate slurry before you could finish it? Have you heard of skin cancer? Have you ever seen “Jersey Shore?”

Suddenly the scales look a little more even.

Being of Irish descent, the sun poses a greater threat to me. The Irish, like vampires, burst into flames when we come into contact with direct sunlight. I slather myself daily with SPF 40 and put on my welding equipment before I go out. That gets me at least through the parking lot.

I’m constantly rearranging and updating my list of things to be afraid of, but skin cancer is consistently in the top ten because it’s completely unavoidable. It currently falls right between “genetically altered tiger-bear” and “being digested by my own stomach acids” on the primal fear charts.

Some people don’t think the sun is giving us cancer quickly enough, so tanning beds were invented to do it more efficiently. 

In a recent issue of the journal Dermatological Therapy, a report said that risk of melanoma increases 75 percent when you use a tanning bed. The FDA has recommended that all tanning beds be decommissioned and reclassified as techno-coffins.

Seriously though, if you’ve ever had a sunburn bad enough where your skin just gives up, dies, and peels off, you know what I’m talking about. The sun can be a bastard. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and stare at it for a good five minutes. I’ll wait.

Are you back? No, because you are now blind. Reading the rest of the paper will be a challenge for you, then.

The worst thing about the sun is that it came with a expiration date when we got it. Scientists say in only five billion years the sun will enter its red giant phase, where it will expand and consume us. Really?! Five billion is all we get? We weren’t even around for most of the sun’s cuter, younger years. We showed up at right about the mid-life crisis phase, if I have my terminology correct. Scientists say the sun will soon take up new hobbies, like wind surfing, which we have to do our best to tolerate. It will also try to attract younger, hotter stars.

The greatest threat the sun poses to us, however, is roasting us in our own atmosphere. Or drowning us in melted glaciers. Or possibly creating a bunch of hurricanes to wipe us out. It’s not totally clear yet. Global warming is bad news anyway.

The earth should have come with a tag or something. “WARNING: Don’t make any chlorofluorocarbons in here or we’re gonna have a problem. Love, Earth.” But they left it up to us to figure it out like we usually do–by screwing up first.

Are you saying that I can’t go hiking with a can of aerosol air freshener in each hand, spraying the outdoors with lemon scent like I like to do? You mean I can’t keep my SUV running all night with the headlights on to keep kids away from my Harrison Ford mural? You mean I can’t stockpile broken refrigerators in my front yard like a Captain Planet villain? All because of the fear of the sun getting some kind of passive aggressive revenge on me where my hypothetical children boil alive?

The only way to escape the relentless onslaught of the sun is to go inside, close your radiation shutters, and crank the air conditioner. However, my air conditioner has only two settings: “being locked in the walk-in freezer at Dairy Queen” and “off.” Either it’s broken, or Kenmore is trying to make me crack from thermal shock.

The way I see it, we have two options: Put enough pressure on it so it changes, or simply declare war on the sun.

But since I’m always the diplomat, I’ve decided to issue a review of the sun for now. I give it “no stars.” I recommend that no one go and see it.