The Fury of the Northmen

It’s summertime and it’s absurdly beautiful outside. That can only mean one thing. It’s time for my annual apologies to the universe.

I don’t know if karma is real or not, but I do know that I have Scandinavian ancestors who may or may not have been vikings. You don’t hear many good things about vikings.

The Viking

Good Things the Vikings Did!

– Discovered North America!

– Purposely misnamed Greenland in order to colonize it! Hilarious!

– Built cool ships, which later inspired cool amusement park rides!

– There’s a story about a viking who got his hand chopped off in battle. Instead of freaking out and fainting, like I would have done, he used the blood gushing out of his arm to blind his enemies and kept fighting. That is both disgusting and awesome!

Bad Things the Vikings Did :(

– Pillaged and destroyed artifacts :(

– Killed men, women, and children. There may have also been some raping :(

– Sold prisoners as slaves :(

Executed people in the worst ways possible :(

Inspired a lame syndicated comic strip in the 70s :(

These aren’t the kind of things a descendant can be proud of, and clearly the Universe is still mad about them.

I know this because my skin is a color that I’d like to describe as “milky” or maybe even “porcelain”, but is in actuality a “vampiric” or “Michael Jackson, age 50” kind of tone. It reflects moonlight. It’s the kind of skin that bursts into flame when I even think about the sun. I’m like an albino earthworm, with the same level of solar resistance. My viking ancestors burned villages and stole their women, and now this woman burns every time she goes outside. Touche, Universe. Touche.

The thing is, I’m starting to feel this is a really unfair deal. The vikings were doing their thing well over 1,000 years ago, and surely karma has caught up by now. I have never raided a monastery or looted and pillaged a town. Comparatively, I’ve been really nice and I’m pretty sure I’ve done nothing deserve a right arm that looks like a blushing lobster.

It’s not a fruit or a vegetable. It’s my arm.

I don’t want you to end up like this, because it’s painful and embarrassing, so I’m going to share some preventative tips with you.

How to Avoid Getting a Sunburn

1) Dig tunnels everywhere you go. If you never have to go outside, you never get burned. It worked for Steve McQueen in The Great Escape (for a while, anyway)Unfortunately, this has the unwanted side effect of potentially turning you into a mole person. Another unfortunate side effect is that once you start describing things as “underground”, everyone will think you’re a hipster.

2) Slather yourself in sunscreen. Don’t rub it in. Just slap it on there until you look like a slimy ghost.

3) If you must go outside and you can’t go by tunnel, bundle up. It may be 90 degrees or more out there, so you have to weigh the drawbacks of sunburn versus those of heat stroke. I like to wear a beekeeping suit, but on casual days I wear a turtleneck, stirrup pants, mid-thigh boots, a scuba mask and a surgeon’s mask, a sombrero, and gloves. It’s hot in every sense of the word. I’d take a picture for the blog, but it’s hard to move my arms in this getup.

If you’re like me and it’s too late for preventative measures, I also have a few ideas for how to make your sunburn less noticeable.

Creative Ways to Disguise the Fact That Parts of Your Body Are a Ridiculous Shade of Red

1) Get a large tattoo to cover it up. The great thing about tattoos is that you can get them anywhere. I’m thinking of hiding my embarrassingly freckled face with a portrait of a viking with the chopped-off hand. Future employers, look out.

2) Wear a burka everywhere. Converting to Islam and changing your name to Mohammad Ali is optional. You could wear a trenchcoat. Trenchcoats, like vikings, have a bad reputation. People may look at you askance when you wear one in the warmer summer months, but don’t let this deter you.

4) Paint the rest of your body red, too. You’ll look like the Kool Aid Man’s slimmer cousin. You can also cover yourself in dirt or mud and pretend it’s an homage to Ke$ha or Pig-Pen from “Peanuts”.

5) Buy an extremely long wig. If your neck is sunburned, that’s easy to explain. If it’s your calves, the tops of your feet, or your face, you may need to embrace a Cousin Itt kind of look.

Really hairy, or incredibly sunburnt?

6) Hide in your room.

I don’t like to badmouth any vikings because I’m terribly, terribly afraid of them, but I think I can add one more thing to the list of viking crimes against humanity.

Bad Things the Vikings Did, Continued :(

– Tried to give me skin cancer :(


  1. Kim Pugliano

    Awesome awesome post. Had me laughing out loud which got me into trouble with my husband because “supposedly” I was working but really I was reading your post and laughing out loud. Thanks.

  2. Zara Moberg

    I’m a Sweede and I’m terrably offended! You missed a couple of points. Like that vikings wore really cool pants. Or that they kept a lot of slaves. Most importantly the vikings going east were tradesmen who had contact with baltic, slavic and turkish peoples – they connected the boring north to the dazzling south. Super cool in my eyes.

    • Stephanie

      Next time, you’re invited to write the “Cool Things About Vikings” list. I think they’re cool, too, but then the whole burning and pillaging thing gets brought up and I have no defense for it.

      • Zara Moberg

        Pillaging is hard to defend.

        Okay, here is my list:
        Cool Things About Vikings
        -Cool and comfortable pants
        -Connecting trade between the Baltic and the Black sea
        -Worked for the big guy in Konstantinople
        -Discovered Iceland, Greenland ant the nortamerican continent
        -Made grave piles you can still see today
        -Freaky religion
        -Names like Björn (Bear) and Thor (the god Thor)
        -Good shipmakers
        -Founder of towns in todays GB and France
        -Had more extensive freedomes for women

        Hope you like it!

  3. juliedswearingen

    I feel your pain. My Norwegian, Swedish, and Irish ancestors left me almost void of melanin. Luckily, I have green eyes, and can pull off various shades of red hair. And being practically allergic to the sun can you get you out of yard work, which I will avoid at all costs. Thanks for the laughs.

    • Stephanie

      Hey, if being melanin-less means you get out of physical labor, embrace it. I find that mine also gets me out of playing sports, and it means I can justify buying absurd sun hats.

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