Well, it’s here – the moment I’ve been dreading all summer. My annual quest for a bathing suit has officially begun.
I know it’s June. I know some of you bought your suits back in January. You’re probably wondering what rock I crawled out from under, and rightly so.
Only my rock of choice was a ginormous box of chocolate chip cookies. The kind you get at ginormous discount warehouses in the “I Have a Ginormous Need To Eat My Way Through Self-Pity” aisle. Nibbling my way through fear, sadness, humiliation and regret after realizing that, once again, I will be wearing the same black skirted bathing suit this summer as I have for the past ten years.
Now before you regard me with awestruck admiration, let me set the record straight: I am not able to wear the same suit for ten years because I have maintained the same weight all this time. No-ho, hardly. You see, prior to owning my current bathing costume (and I don’t use that term lightly), I could wear suits that were “cute” and “not made to accommodate water buffalo”. Then I got pregnant and puffed up like a blowfish, and in the ensuing years I went from single- to double-digit sizing faster than one could say “Lose the baby fat already – she’s ten!”
So no, the reason I have worn the same bathing attire for a decade is because my suit has stretched along with me. You see, it has no choice but to do so if it wants to remain on active duty. It knows that I (and, therefore, it) would be banned from the pool for life if it doesn’t defy physics and refrain from bursting like a popped balloon, striking fellow pool members with its shrapnel. Our community pool has a strict rule against that sort of horseplay. So like the good and loyal friend it is, my suit relents. So much in fact that what was once black is now a dark gray, and growing lighter in hue each year to the point that it will soon be transparent.
I am filled with self-pity this June because this year was going to be different – a promise I make to myself every year, now that I think of it. Each January I proudly march through the bathing suit sections of my favorite department stores, imagining myself wearing this tankini or that bikini, looking like I stepped right out of the pages of Sports Illustrated, Swimsuit Edition. As a matter of fact, I envision getting the call. This year, for the first time, they’ve decided to feature a forty-something woman on the cover (forty-something the age, not the size – although the latter is always ripe with possibility). Because this year, I look too good not to be proudly displayed on newsstands the world over. They want to feature me sporting the hottest hot pink bikini, with my badass belly ring and artfully drawn belly button sun tattoo.
Fully believing this fantasy is achievable, I hop aboard the “Diet and Exercise Express” every January 1. Okay, make that January 10 because it usually takes me that long to eat up all the holiday cookies and treats. Eh, well – actually, factor in the endless Oscar Nominee Marathons featuring buckets of buttery popcorn and a JuJy Fruit or two, and make that January 29.
But between January 29 and March whatever, I’m all full of gung ho as I run, sweat, lift and Zumba my way into becoming a permanent fixture at the gym. Before long, everyone gets to know me by name and nobody dares to take my self-proclaimed locker. I even start coaching other slugs in how to get around the .10 mile track without stopping for a bagel and cappuccino half way through. And I do it with an abundance of excitement and glee – after all, the visual of me on the SISE is the best revenge I could hope to exact on ex-boyfriends who believed they were trading up when they ditched me. We’ll conveniently forget that they ditched me for actual swimsuit models – after all, what’s past is past.
But then, in March, it all goes terribly wrong. My gym-going “gung-ho” becomes a mediocre “meh”, coinciding with the strategic appearance of double dark chocolate coconut Easter eggs aside Wawa registers. They really couldn’t have perfected their marketing strategy any better than if EB himself hopped in and shoved one of those dark, creamy treats in my mouth as I paid for my coffee and healthy breakfast beard consisting of a banana (giggle) and yogurt (gaffaw). So, alas, it is in March when I emerge from my exercise-induced psychosis and realize that despite all my best efforts, the scale hasn’t budged.
Has. Not. Budged.
And so I protest by denouncing the gym and all its buff trainers, balancing balls and Bosu challenges a big batch of BS. And I order up a dozen double dark chocolate coconut Easter eggs with a side of self-righteous justification. Sadly, this year was no different. And, like all years before it, dark chocolate denial takes over where determination left off.
So as this summer approached, I tried to convince myself that I’d be content to once again waddle around the pool in the same suit I’ve worn since my daughter was born – despite knowing full well that I bear a striking and somewhat horrifying resemblance to Ursula from The Little Mermaid. But I am confident with who I am (I think) and hope my fellow pool members will judge me for my intellect, wit and ability to execute a flawless forward-half-somersault-in-the-tuck-position. And not judge me for my body size, or the fact that I appear to be one pretty voice away from ruling the sea.
But then one day as we were shopping for a suit for my ten year old, she commented that I always wear the same suit year after year, and she likes the fact that I never change.
“But wait!” my thinner inner mommy-slash-Sports Illustrated goddess screamed. “I want to change!”
With horror, I realize there will come a day when my daughter will see me through preteen eyes as I heave myself up off my boogie board, and she will realize that there is but a thinning film of Lycra between me and marine mammal rescue. She’ll be forced to pretend she doesn’t know me, and that will break my heart – more so than would the shutting down of the Toll House division of Nestle.
I don’t want that. And besides – I’m not done yet! I’m forty-five and have not achieved half of my dreams! I want to be featured on the cover of a magazine, emerging from the surf looking fabulous ala Bo Derek in the movie, “10”. I want to sport a belly button piercing that’s smaller than a tire rim, and a sun tattoo not drawn to scale! I want to turn heads, not stomachs, when I remove my cover up. I want to be the envy of all my fat, pasty friends! I have none to speak of, but will certainly get some in order to live out this fantasy.
So this year, armed with determination, fearlessness and a boatload of diuretics, I’m setting out to find me a new suit. Despite the fact that, along with my panty lines, the new fall line is already showing.