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Bathing Suit Torture Part 1: The Ghosts of Summers Past

If there could be a downside to taking a Caribbean vacation in March, where the plane’s exhaust puffs a trail onto the tarmac at JFK before piercing the bright blue skies toward a week of repose on an idyllic beach, that thing would be the premature torture of shopping for a bathing suit.

Of course one could argue, why go bathing suit shopping?  You’re going to the Caribbean, not the town pool.  No one has seen last year’s bathing suit in Barbados.  And that was my rationale exactly until things took an ugly turn.    

First of all, let me be clear, I am not embarrassed wearing a vestige of the American cruise wear timeline, a garment three to five (possibly seven) years old.  I’m a veritable human time capsule of swimwear’s good, bad and ugly years.  Which practically makes me a performance artist.  Anyway, what’s the difference how old they are−as long as they fit.  Especially since they’re all black.  In various leg cuts and strap configurations.   They each have very specific uses: the tasteful, slightly snazzy one I wear to the pool, the one-piece goes to the water park (where it’s not uncommon on some rides, if one is wearing a two-piece, for the top to end up over your head and the bottom down around your knees−scaring young children−ok, everyone−within eyesight,) the swanky one I wear to the annual 4th of July party at our friends’ country club, the one that covers the most skin is worn with the in-laws, and the one that reveals the most skin is waiting for St. Barts (new with tags)(and by “new” I mean old).

In examining this summer-of-yore wardrobe I noticed the tankini’s bottom had completely lost waistline elasticity.  I pulled at it gently, but it didn’t pull back.  Instead it kept expanding, while softly weeping.  That terrible sound that an ancient, abused elastic makes when it’s had enough.  A hushed whimper coming from your clothes is sad indeed.  One that says, “I can’t take it anymore,” is the saddest of them all.

With a heavy heart I ceremoniously threw it into the trash knowing it must have taken months to find, a myriad of stores, umpteen try-ons. 

It would have to be the one-piece to accompany me to the white sandy beaches of Barbados.  Sand so fine it transforms your toes into sugared crullers.  The one piece was not my favorite but it would have to do.  Until I noticed, that by holding it up to the light of my bedroom window, I could see my neighbor walking her dog, through its threadbare seat.  Good Lord.  I closed my eyes and shook my head thinking how that must have appeared last summer at the pool. 

Alright.  It was down to the 2-piece halter.  Ugh.  That one showed a little too much mid-section for my liking and was adorned with a gold thingy on each hip.  I must have been desperate and delirious with exhaustion when I bought it.  I hate metal trinkets on bathing suits.  A third gold goo-goo was sewn at the cleavage.  I would need to try it on.  Because of the flashy embellishments it was two summers ago that I wore it last.  Better not leave anything to chance.  Good news−bottom was fine.  Bad news−the plastic hook that holds the straps together was snapped in half.  Half a hook is not good.  There was enough metal on that thing to send airport security into a frenzy, but the necessary element to hold the bathing suit together was made of plastic. 

There were others in the drawer but I was too humiliated to look at them.  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I glimpsed a bikini.  In turquoise?  That was a long time ago, I reminisced, while unconsciously sucking in my stomach.  Why had I kept it all these years?  Like I’m really going to lose the ten (seventeen) pounds it would take to wear it?  That thing is older than my daughter.  The teenager.  Do I really need to be taunted by the ghosts of summers past?  I closed the drawer. 

It would be unavoidable this year.  I knew it was time. 

What happens next is not for the faint of heart.  If you have a weak heart, irregular heart rhythms, take heart meds, we should probably say goodbye here.  Thank you for visiting.   If not, and you think you can handle it, do come back for the rest of Bathing Suit Torture.




*Clothing phobias, anyone?