Last week, someone finally flipped the Idaho Summer Weather switch, and the temperature soared from the low 60s on one day to the 90s on the next. Since then, I’ve dug my few pairs of shorts out from where they were languishing at the bottom of my drawer, made generous use of the sunblock in my purse, and thanked God many times from my heart for the blessing of our hardworking, energy-efficient window unit air-conditioner.
And there’s another blessing this summer. For once, I own a bathing suit that a) fits and b) does not look hideous on me; thus, I can enjoy a free pass on that dreadful, dehumanizing ritual that is bathing suit shopping.
The girls know what I’m talking about. The boys, with their smug little way of walking into the store and buying the first bathing suit they see off the rack, don’t have a clue. They’ve missed out on a whole facet of the quintessential human female experience: standing naked* and alone in front of the relentless 3-way mirror, wearing a scrap of Lycra that busily accentuates exactly what you’ve been trying to hide for the past six months under all those bulky sweaters and carefully chosen jackets.
Every mole, every pocket of cellulite, every clandestine slice of forbidden cheesecake is illuminated in the harsh glare of the unforgiving fluorescent lights. The illusory mental image you keep of yourself (and protect at all costs by refusing to allow people to take photos of you and squinting your eyes when you look in the mirror after getting out of the shower**) is, in one unguarded moment, shattered. Truth sculpted in lime green nylon.
And to add insult to injury, you notice with embarrassment that your bikini line needs some serious attention.
One after another, you try on suits. This one cuts into your shoulders; that one is all flappy and loose around the bottom; the other one threatens every moment to burst into glorious wardrobe malfunction. Finally, mentally and emotionally exhausted, you grab the boring black tank suit that covers the essentials and doesn’t cause outright weeping when you put it on and you head up to the register to check out.
A girl can be pardoned for indulging in a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby after such a grueling experience. (Meanwhile, the Chubby Hubby himself is cavorting around happily in his twelve dollar board shorts, oblivious to your mental anguish.)
But not this year. This year, I already have the perfect suit. It’s a navy blue tankini, with green and blue fish on it and a cute little gauze sarong to wrap around it. I’ve had it for years. Last summer, it squeezed. It pinched. It gapped. It bulged. I hid it deep underneath my pajama pile and tried to forget that I had ever looked good in it.
This year, it fits.
You can’t see me, but I’m doing cartwheels.***
*Metaphorically, if not (entirely) physically.
**Or maybe that’s just me.
***Okay, not really—but I am grinning like a monkey.