Buying a new bathing suit is like selecting an alias for the Witness Protection Program. You want something that fits and has flair, but that will keep all your hidden assets locked away where no one will ever find them.
In my experience, the main function of a bathing suit is to gather oceanic sand in the lining of the crotch while you’re trying to balance on the retracting grains of an outgoing wave without spilling your drink-filled coconut. With my typical lack of coordination, my coconuts take a dunking every time.
I went shopping with my sister and my niece, Knockout. This girl could wear an oven mitt and guys would follow her into deep water. I was painfully aware that my thighs had expanded to the outer banks and my behind had relocated to the subtropics.
We’re at Wal-Mart, browsing through the racks. It’s the only place I can get support hose, Sugar Smacks, and sinus medication without having to change parking lots. Presently my buggy is loaded with a month’s worth of Friskies and the floral pack of Hanes Her Way Full Coverage. Nothing says party like a well-fed cat and chubby sized underwear.
While Knockout was slipping on bikini tops over her clothes, I was fumbling through the racks looking for something with sleeves and a bib. I couldn’t fit a bathing suit over my clothes if I had the Jaws of Life to help me dress.
“What about something with a little sarong to cover up problem areas?” Knockout suggests, flattening an invisible wrinkle in her belly button.
I couldn’t fit a sarong over my shin with a shoe horn.
“Do they have anything with a hoop skirt instead?”
I’m headed to the seashore for a weekend away from the Labradors. All I’m going to do is pick up a few seashells, eat some fish without having to share, and play a round of beach putt putt. I shouldn’t have to use up the gross national output of latex to get a hole in one at Shipwreck Cove.
When it comes to shopping for clothes, I use the lawn and garden strategy. I don’t so much have to focus on my strengths so much as try to mulch the problem areas. I’m at the age when weeds are creeping into the rhododendrens and the ground cover is losing momentum. I figure if I keep everything in the dark and provide proper drainage, we can keep the damage to a minimum.
Also I stand by the idea that if I can’t see it, it’s not a problem. I’ve played hide and seek with my navel for 35 years. Once I passed 40 and realized I’d need a topographical map and a satellite signal from NASA to find my waist, I declared myself the victor and began looking for my original chin. We might have to call in the Mars Rover for that one.
“What about a cover up? You like retro.” She held up a tye-dyed washcloth, swirling with all the colors of a bowl of breakfast cereal.
“It looks like something you used to clean up a chemical spill. A very small chemical spill."
I wandered across the aisle to a rack of likely-looking house dresses to use for disguise. My idea of coverage is mountains-to-sea. I’m not interested in anything that leaves the foothills or the Great Plains out in the open. I untangled a handful of spaghetti straps and pulled out a prospect. “What about this? It’s almost long enough to cover the coast at high tide.”
“That’s a prom dress.”
“How can you tell?”
“There are sequins on thong.”
“I thought that was an armband to hold my iPod.”
“There’s a clip on the tiara for that. See, there’s a secret compartment behind the disco ball.”
Three dozen prom gowns and I pick the one that needs John Travolta in a white suit to complete the package.
“Here’s an animal print. You’d be right in style.” Knockout whipped a bikini bedecked with pink and green peace symbols off the rack and held it up with a flourish. A trail of leopard prints the color of blush traipsed through the peace fields.
“The leopard is already embarrassed and I haven’t even tried it on.”
She flipped through a few more prospects. “There’s nothing left on the rack but old lady swimsuits.”
To this kid, Paris Hilton is ancient history.
With a sigh, I tossed the sequined thong and tiara selection into my cart. I may not be Queen of the Prom, but I’ll be the best dressed gal at the Pirate Ship Putt Putt course.