LA MANZANILLA, Jalisco, Mexico - In a world awash in suncreens - Aveen, Hawaiian Tropic, Bain de Soleil or Banana Boat, just to name a few - it is the smell of Coppertone that brings back memories of water skiing and beaches and growing up. Retirement gives you time to think about a lot of these things, obviously.
I'm sure Coppertone is still sold in the states, but is so, well not de riguer with the sunscreenistas.
In Mexico, I think it might be the number-one, best-selling brand.
Original Coppertone girl ad
As a teenager and then as a lifeguard at the beach in Lakewood, New York, it seems that Coppertone was about the only sunscreen to be had, though many beachgoers slathered themselves in Coopertone suntan oil, a slimey concoction that came off and left and oil slick on the water when people jumped in to go swimming. The blue sheen on the water looked so similar to gasoline that we sometimes had to doublecheck to make sure the swimmers weren't paddling through 85 octane lake water.
The modern Coppertone sunscreens are available right up to 50 SPF (and maybe more). It's a big seller at la farmacias here.
But one thing the company has not changed is the aroma, which I find difficult to describe. The Admiral would prefer I apply almost any other sunscreen but through some odd quirk, I find that Coppertone keeps me from burning the absolute best of any of the sunscreens I've used over the years.
Plus, whenever I put some on I remember a tall blonde girl who used to come to Lakewood Beach every day all summer whose nickname was The Blue Max after the swimsuit she wore nearly every day, driving the male lifeguards crazy and the female lifeguards to trot out their most-catty remarks.
The Blue Max would be in her mid-50s now, thinking about retiring herself.
I better go put on some Coppertone to erase that thought.
Coppertone Ad, 2007, in Greece