In an age of Chafe

How incredibly disappointed I was to find out that “chafe-age” isn’t a word. Word or not, it sure hurts.
Warning: If you are bothered by the idea of chafing let me recommend you stop reading now.
The Mrs. and I are in sunny Florida. Gulf side between Panama City Beach and Seaside. It’s hot and wonderful. The emerald coast is living up to its nickname and the flat bike lanes make one feel as powerful as a blood-doping Tour de France-er.
On Monday my love got us a date with the dolphins. As in, swimming with them. Here’s how it works, get on a boat and the Captain takes you out to an area the dolphins like to swim around. We get in the water and swim. If there are dolphins around, they swim near you. If there are not… swim with each other. No touching, no feeding, no chasing. Just about as pure as a land dweller like me can be with regards to this beautiful creature.
On Tuesday, now an authority on dolphins, we were back on the beach. I looked out about a fifty yards in the water and saw two or three dolphins swimming and playing in the surf. I pointed and shared wisdom once given to me by my friend Anthony Chaboya in Santa Barbara, “What’s great about swimming with dolphins is there aren’t any sharks around.” (Dolphins won’t be where sharks are!) I continued to swim in the surf for a while. I body surfed in on a wave and waded back out. It’d been a while since I had seen a dolphin. I looked in the water about twenty feet away and WHOA!!!! That’s a small shark, about 3 1/2 feet long! I didn’t run on the water but I came close to it as scampered in.
Now I can say I have been swimming with sharks. And that is about as close as I have or will ever want to be.
Back to the point at hand.
All the bike riding and swim trunks wearing in the hotness of a June in the gulf leads to parts of the body not used to rubbing up to other parts into a mad lotion-less massage, a grinding of flesh to flesh with nothing but the cool of perspiration to give a false relief.
After a day at the beach and then shower and cleanup in the room, my wife and I decided to venture out on our velocipedes (been wanting to use that word in a sentence for a while).
Upon dismounting the fat seated, single speed cruiser the receptors in my brain registered something about a sunburn in an area I was sure had been fully covered these last few days and actually every day since the age of about five. And yet, in this palest of areas, most private to me SUNBURN SUNBURN SUNBURN was flashing red in my mind.
It will be a year next month when I learned, on the spot, I don’t know the word for chafing in the Serbian language. It was a hot summer on the asphalt and concrete city scape of Novi Sad, Serbia as we, in pure European fashion, traversed on foot. I was there to work with a friend who puts together a large festival of Christian Worship and discipleship training in Europe each year called “SOZO Festival.”
After one evening, taking a wrong turn and walking an additional and unnecessary two kilometers I had this same goings on as I write about now. Fortunately I had a couple of Europeans with me as I entered a pharmacy late one evening. Unfortunately they were Brits and like me, didn’t speak a word of Serbian. His name is Trevor and her name is Tina but with their English accents they actually pronounce the names, “Trevah and Teener” which I had much fun with. I digress.
I entered with gusto, thinking in my mind, “It is perfectly fine. People have this sort of problem all the time. These people work in a pharmacy for crying out loud… They’ve seen it all.”
I step to the window where three, twenty something women stand ready to assist me. I look at them and it finally dawns on me. I have no Serbian vocabulary for this important moment. I look to my older, much wiser British companion, Trevor and seeing I am in need he begins to pantomime in the style of Red Skelton the progression of chafing on the human body. He begins by showing he is sweaty then rubbing his arms together. After thinking that won’t work he cups his hand and in a way which seemed more childish than lewd, he gestures between the legs like a banana seat on a seventies kids bike. After this he points to me and gives an exaggerated frown.
I could almost see the light bulb turn on above one of the young women’s head as she raced over to one of the shelves and grabbed a balm for me. As she showed it to me, in near perfect English she said, “This is what you need. Apply it twice a day… Oh, and LOOK, it’s melon scented!”
My first thought was, “Why would I care if it is melon scented?!?!”
Then, after paying, while walking out I realized the more important information at hand!!! As the third exclamation point from “SHE SPEAKS ENGLISH!!! ran through my mind, I hear her say, “You’re here for the SOZO Festival, yes? I will be there tomorrow!”
I turned back to the three ladies, summoned any self worth I could find and said, “Great! Can’t wait to see you there!”
Now, after today’s event I have decided to never travel without my Gold Bond!


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