That Tender Spot Behind the Knee

JUPITER, Fla. — We are all familiar with that stereotypical picture of a lifeguard, what with the rakish spin of his whistle and that universally accepted symbol of smart, outdoor health — the white stripe of sunscreen on his nose. It’s not a fashion statement. It’s there because it’s needed. Through many years as a lifeguard I’ve peeled off more noses than I care to admit, and I’ve got the freckles seven layers deep to prove that I should have been more vigilant with my white stripe. I imagine that every profession or pursuit that puts in the line of (sun) fire has that same soft spot that the rays find and punish. When I coached swimming, we were constantly reminded to put a swipe of sunscreen on top of our ears where our sunglasses rest. That’s where coaches are vulnerable, we were told, and skin cancer can nest. Snorkeling can leave your back exposed to the sun’s raw brutality as I learned last month in Curacao. Construction workers have to be wary of their necks. Golfers have to be mindful of their foreheads. Skiers have to remember the sun can ricochet off the glistening snow to double-blast their cheeks and even when you can’t see the sun its rays can still seer you. Drivers have to take special care of that left elbow, poking out into the sun as it does while they’re cheerfully rocking out to AC/DC on a road trip. (I’m thinking Emilio Estevez in Maximum Overdrive.) And baseball writers must always remember the Continue reading

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