So reckoning day is finally here, and I head for the nearest department store most likely to carry camping equipment in case all the larger sizes are taken and I’m reduced to trying on actual tents.
The first thing I notice when I enter the Department of Doom is that only two sizes remain on the racks – size 2 and size 24. That is helpful, since I am neither. No doubt, a charging herd of Real Women just came through and took all the normal sizes. I am just about to throw in the beach towel and head for Baskin-Robbins when I realize I am in the toddler department. As it turns out, they moved the ladies’ section to the third floor.
I take the stairs instead of the escalator, hoping that will shed at least ten pounds. Once in the department I go immediately for the black suits, hoping the color itself will take off another twenty. I notice that many suits have “Slim Effect” tags on them, so I load up on those in virtually every style that comes in black. I also decide to throw caution to the wind and try on a few in different colors despite silly names like “Fire Engine Red” (Yeah, thanks. “WOOOoooOOOO! Ding! Ding! Ding! Fire truck’s here!” Yep, nothing I love more than arriving at the community pool looking like an emergency rescue vehicle). And “Swimming Pool Blue” (Do I really need to confuse small children as to whether I am the pool or simply by the pool?) I tried to avoid the fat granny suits, since it was precisely that the kind of mold from which I was trying to break away. I am feeling pretty good about this until I hear a twenty-something loudly protest, “the only thing this dumb store carries are fat granny suits!” I pay no mind, since I am about a cookie and a half away from being a fat-granny-suit model myself. I take comfort in the knowledge that someday she, too, will be forty – the age, and hopefully the size.
Once in the dressing room, I take off my clothes and notice that the mirrors show everything. I mean everything. I swear I now have two more belly rolls than when I left the house. The first suit I try on is the turquoise “Slim Effect” one piece. I struggle for about fifteen minutes to get it up over my hips and around my chest. Once on, I make two observations: 1. I would have to give cautious consideration to whether I want to wear this suit or breathe, and 2. it gathers so tightly around my middle, it cuts me in half like a deranged balloon animal. It also has the pleasant side effect of causing my stomach to divide and bulge out where my neck and thighs are. This absolutely will not do. Next!
The next suit is a two-piece. Before you shut down your computer and run screaming from the room, take comfort in the fact that that each of the two pieces are roughly the size of market umbrellas. And that’s exactly what I look like when I don them.
The third suit catches my breath in a good way. It holds everything in place. It tones, tames and bitch-slaps the hell out of all my fat modules, gives me an actual waist and makes me believe I can take on any bikini-clad twenty-something in a swimsuit contest and win. I am about to start crying with joy, the song “At Last” beginning to play in my head. That is, until I turn to the side. Apparently there is a rule in physics that for every action, there is a reaction. And the chosen reaction of my fat cells, when compressed together via faux Spanx, is to escape out of the back of my suit, like a Mastodon in a tutu.
Number Four squishes my chest matter into an unattractive uni-boob, below which I appear to be smuggling a keg. Number Five is the color of baby poop. Number Six makes me look like a Zeppelin. Oh, the humanity!
Number Seven is…well, now…a younger version of my old black skirted friend, but with a modern twist. It is a tankini with a straight (not flouncy) wrap-around skirt that actually minimizes (not accentuates) my derriere. It covers not just one but both of my boobies (completely) and adds definition against my flattened stomach. I won’t go so far as to say flat, mind you, but if I refuse get up from a lying position, you’ll never know the difference. I don’t know what surprises me more – that I found a tankini in June or that I found one made with less than 57 bolts of fabric.
I turn – no back overhang. I bend over – no circulation disruption. I move cautiously around the dressing room – no bursting, ricocheting Lycra. I open the door – no one running, screaming from the building (except for that smug twenty-something who couldn’t find the right shade of cocktail napkin).
I swear, Etta herself pops her head into the dressing room and breaks out in song. “At last…my suit has come along.”
Going directly to my car, I pass Baskin-Robbins without collecting two hundred calories. I carefully buckle my new friend into the seatbelt next to me – after all, I can’t take the chance that it will fly out of my opened sunroof and into the arms of some other forty-ish, cookie-munching, bathing suit-crazed woman (or, God forbid, the windshield of a tractor trailer).
And then I confidently plug the number of Sports Illustrated into my phone. I wouldn’t want to miss the call.
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