Day One aboard the Angelina, a 49' sailing yacht with teak decks, an intimidating display of ropes and sails, and a good-humored skipper named Ray. The Greek sun shines brightly all day, reflecting off the deep blue Aegean Sea. With four redheads aboard, our boat is dubbed the SS Melanoma. My fellow sailors repeatedly apply chalky white SPF lotion from head to toe. My face and body are protected from the sun's harmful rays by Lancome. I feel chic by comparison. That night, I successfully remove my cosmetic armor in a two-by-two foot bathroom/shower stall Ray calls "the head."
Day Two aboard the Angelina. Salt in the boat's "fresh" water supply seems to adhere to my skin. I successfully apply eye brightening concealer, moisturizing SPF-15 foundation, fine-lined eyebrows, and volumizing waterproof mascara. I decide to forego the spray-on self-tanner for fear of permanently tanning the walls of the head. I opt instead to borrow a boat mate's (chalky) sunblock. We spend an exhilarating day on the water, learning to raise and lower the genoa, reef and flake the main, tie knots, etc. I expend a lot of energy attempting to prove that girls can crank in a sail as efficiently as boys. That night, too exhausted to wash my face, I commit a mortal makeup sin and collapse in bed in full Lancome regalia. The boat rocks me to sleep.
Day Three aboard the Angelina. I use an embarrassing amount of the yacht's precious water supply attempting to wash my long hair, the day-old makeup disaster from my face, and the salt-encrusted SPF lotion from my legs, arms, and torso. I consider cutting my hair extremely short. Deciding to let my skin "breathe" I forego concealer and foundation and opt to apply only basic mascara and eyebrow pencil. The boat is rocked by a wake. The mascara wand has several near misses with my cornea. My brows come out with overly high arches. Feeling guilty about using so much of my boat mate's dwindling SPF, I forego sunblock. I don a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved white shirt, which come off at the first opportunity to swim.
Day Four. Face is hot and sunburned, except for sunglasses pattern. Bisque-colored foundation fails to match bright red skin. I re-cleanse and use boat mate's SPF head to toe. Melted eyebrow pencil gets stuck in sharpening device. Apply brows using broken-off tip. Mascara comes out thick and clumpy. We swim and snorkel. A lot. Manage to extract a quarter-sized blob of SPF from tube. Mixed with salt on skin, it feels a bit like crushed walnut shell exfoliant. At dinner, taverna waiter uses what little English he knows to suggest I stay out of the sun. "No more sun for you!" embeds itself in my married-life vernacular. Back on the boat, Marcus relishes using the phrase repeatedly. Our boat mates egg him on. He hones his impression of the waiter, drapes a napkin over his forearm, inquires about menu selections, then feigns astonishment at my crimson face. We laugh until it hurts.
Day Five. I awaken early. Pay an ancient and deeply wrinkled local woman 700 drachma to shower in her home. The fresh water is magical. I say thank you in Greek probably too many times. The woman is unamused or possibly ambivalent. I hunt down a souvenir stand and drop more drachma on new tubes of SPF cream for myself and my boat mate. The cool cream on my clean skin feels good. I hide out in the shade with the redheads. I am unable to fully crank the sail and forced to ask one of the guys to take over before I unravel completely. Shaking off my defeat, I join the group at dusk for hearty moussaka served at tables beside the sea. Then turn in early beneath a deep black sky that's festooned with bright white constellations and a mesmerizing Milky Way.
Day Six. Burn has subsided and skin has settled into a soft, golden brown. To save fresh water I quickly rinse off in the head, then slick my hair back Evita-style. My face looks healthy, so I apply a light layer of SPF cream and decide to go without makeup. On deck, the redheads comment on my ability to burn then tan. The guys say I look better without makeup. My hair gets mixed reviews. I raise the genoa and take a turn at the helm. Then relax on deck and dream about staying on as crew, sans Lancome. Marcus suggests I've had enough sun.