Spare a thought today for the whitest man alive

'Those people who have seen me naked avert their eyes for fear of snow blindness'

The shocking pallor of my exposed milk bottle white skin first prompted a mother to give out to her young child for pointing at me.

The shocking pallor of my exposed milk bottle white skin first prompted a mother to give out to her young child for pointing at me.

 

An acute emergency forced me to leave the gym during daylight hours (to buy a packet of Skittles in the nearby Spar shop) and I didn’t think it through properly enough. Dressed in just a tank top and knee length shorts, I was a Public Health Hazard.

The shocking pallor of my exposed milk bottle white skin first prompted a mother to give out to her young child for pointing at me and then it caused a black man out jogging to stop and throw up into a litter bin.

I am the whitest person alive. I burn if I stand too close to a street lamp. I read somewhere that fair hair and blue eyes are a beauty ideal among some Korean women - I felt like flying over there, undressing in front of them and saying “Is this really what you aspire to, ladies?”

To be fair, those people who have seen me naked have been uncommonly kind. They merely wince and avert their eyes for fear of snow blindness and don’t, as once happened, loudly state through streaming tears that “I’m going to need counselling after this”.

There are upsides to my extreme Whiteness. Old ladies gave me that sweet Old Lady smile when they pass me on the street, I get invited to dinner parties much for the same reason, I imagine, as the Elephant Man did.

The male members of my gym get a 15 per cent discount for having to share a changingroom with me. When I was younger the neighbours wanted to have a charity car boot sale to raise the funds to send me to Disneyland.

There’s a medical classification for people like me. I am Type 1 on the Fitzpatrick Scale which is the numerical classification for human skin colour which was invented by a Harvard dermatologist. I have a picture of him on my fridge.

The condition can be isolating. I have to go on holidays to countries nearer the North Pole than the Mediterranean. In Sweden, I don’t stand out so much. For one thing, people don’t come up and ask if have the same dermatological condition as Michael Jackson - as is a daily occurrence here.

They also have SPF 100 sunscreen in their chemist shops and I’ve heard of a place in Malmo where if you give a nod and a wink and pull up your t-shirt to show evidence, you can get under-the-counter SPF 500 which is even banned in every country in the world except for Azerbaijan and is on UNESCO’s banned list.

I used to play Russian Roulette with my skin. Pretend I was normal and sit out on the grass with my friends. Why do people automatically assume you’re drunk when you’re being carried to bed on the shoulder of a friend only because you’ve been in direct sunlight for 10 minutes?

When funny brown spots started appearing on my face once, I had to go to see a consultant who specialises in skin pigmentation. He took a picture of my face using a special UV camera which shows up hidden sun damage. I knew something was up when he called in all of his medical colleagues in to have a look at my UV photograph. They stared at the photograph and then stared over at me with the same look in their eyes that the Vet had just before he put down my dog.

I was packed off to a Laser clinic for a six session course of Star Trek like treatment on my face. The first once hurt so much and made me look I had been trapped in a housefire that I rang them and cancelled the next five telling them I got a job in a fish factory in Alaska and wouldn’t be coming back.

On a beach in Donegal one time I had a tantalizing glimpse of what life could have been. I wasn’t actually on the beach, I was indoors in a nearby Cafe with a pair of binoculars, but I saw a man of about my age emerge from the water. His skin had a numinous quality: it was a shade of lovingly toasted caramel with honey-fudge like hues. Under the baking July sun, he walked nonchalantly out of the water and onto the sand. He was perfect.

Later that night, I saw him standing outside a bar wearing a Jedward t-shirt. My turn to give the pitying smile.

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