I hate bathing suit shopping. Correction. I passionately detest bathing suit shopping. While I’ve never actually experienced a root canal, I’m guessing it’d be a lot more fun than standing practically naked under glaring neon lights in front of a crappy three way mirror.
Mid-April marked the start of Operation Swimsuit, a mission to replace my two most favorite bathing suits bought five years ago while vacationing with Allison in the Outer Banks. Horrendous trip, amazing swimsuits. Three months in and I’d already hit Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom’s, Sak's, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Target, Old Navy, Banana Republic, J Crew, LL Bean, Land’s End and Eddie Bauer. Nothing. With only three days left before departing on my European journey, half of which involves sand and surf, I started to get stressed.
Desperate and depressed, I followed my mother’s suggestion and went over to Shirley & Co., a local shop that sells only swimwear. As I rifled through the racks, an older woman who’d clearly spent too much of her youth worshipping the sun offered assistance. I politely shooed her away and went about my business. If it looked remotely appealing and was my size, I grabbed it. The successful completion of Operation Swimsuit hinged on an open mind.
“Let me start a fitting room for you. Were you looking for a two-piece?”
“Ultimately, yes, but I'm open to a one-piece.”
“Would you wear a skirted bottom?”
“Suuuuuuuuuure,” I tentatively replied. Skirted bottoms make me think of thick Russian women (a la the 1987 Wendy's ad)wading in the Baltic Sea.
“This is fabulous,” she exclaimed while holding up a strapless, skirted, two-piece, old lady swimsuit with a zebra print and gold detailing. The padding on the boobs was so molded, it looked like the top already had someone in it. I delayed a response so I could formulate a non-offensive comment.
“I’m not sure that’s age appropriate,” I replied.
“Let me tell you something. The lady in the fitting room just had this on. She looked so sexy!”
“Just out of curiosity, how old is the lady in the fitting room because I’m thirty-three,” I said while craning my neck until I got a glimpse of a woman who was easily sixty-five.
Before stripping down to my panties, I made a deal with myself. If I liked a swimsuit all around and it cost under $200, I was buying it. The goal was to find something and being picky wasn't going to help. Even with my unusual optimism, I struck out. The saleswoman stopped back as I pulled on the last of my options, the old lady two-piece that screamed sex or on me screamed ain’t having any sex.
“I have some alternatives you might like.”
“Let’s see,” I said while stepping out into the hallway sporting the old lady two-piece.
“What do you think of this one?” she asked while holding out something lacey and tie-dyed.
“This is sexy.”
“Neck’s too high." I’ve seen turtlenecks that are more revealing.
“How about this one?”
“Though it is basic black," I said while literally giving a thumbs up as praise for her listening to one of my requests, "the fuchsia, light pink sparkles and black mesh detailing really isn’t my style.”
“What about the one you have on?”
“I feel like I should be sitting on a beach in Boca knitting a sweater for my grandson while kibitzing with my neighbor Mildred about the next Bridge tournament.”
The saleswoman was not amusd by my reference. Probably because I just described her from November to April. I cracked. I’m sorry but that last bathing suit was just too much for me to handle. I politely thanked her for her efforts and retreated to the fitting room to get back into my preppy and youthful clothing. I left there with my spirits and ego dashed and headed up the street to TJ Maxx. Maybe a new shipment had arrived since my last visit. Or maybe someone had returned the perfect swimsuit. I had to be hopeful because I'd otherwise drive off the road.
Someone up above was looking down on me because there at TJ Maxx, tucked into the bathing suit racks were three tankinis in my size, that I liked and, most importantly, that fit. I bought all of them along with a one-piece. Grand total? Sixty-four dollars. But forget the money side of the issue. I finally had my ego glued back together. Operation Swimsuit? Mission complete.
PS: I depart this evening for my trip – Barcelona, Mallorca, Madrid & Lisbon. For obvious reasons, I’m leaving the laptop home though I am bringing a cute little journal to keep track of my thoughts. Unless internet is easily available when my writing mood strikes, I’ll be taking a vacation from posting. To my loyal readers, all five of you, I’ll miss you dearly and look forward to reuniting when I get back on the 25th. Well, unless of course I'm swept off my feet by a dashing European while sunning on the shores of Mallorca.