Let's talk bathing suits. I have two of them. One is a two-piece that I'm the first to admit I look disgusting in. I got wicked stretch marks during those two pregnancies over 30 years ago--the worst I've ever seen on anyone, but people with those kind of stretch marks aren't exactly showing them off, either. They haven't faded a bit over the past three decades, but for some reason I think a tan makes them seem less prominent and my stomach less flabby. Of course, no one sees my stomach except Mike, who claims to love it, gross as it is. But I'm sure that's only because it makes me less attractive and significantly reduces the chances of someone stealing me away from him.
Anyway, the two-piece is for when I'm basking poolside at Linda Land. Alone.
The second is a more modest suit for when I'm around the kids. Mike's 6-year-old is precious, but she doesn't miss a thing and she's quick to point out every friggin' one of my imperfections. Like I'll just be minding my own business pecking away at my laptop at the table and and I can feel her eyes on me, sizing me up, leading to this exchange:
6-year-old (staring at my gut): "Um, Linda, can I ask you something?"Sometimes she scrutinizes my face and all I can think is, Whatever you see, don't tell your father.
Me: "Of course, sweetheart."
6-year-old (positively transfixed by my gut): "Um, Linda, are you pregnant?"
Me: "No, silly. You know I don't like children."
So in anticipation of what she'd have to say about my horrendous midsection ("Linda, were you in a fire?"), I got a one-piece. Wait, it's not just a one-piece; it's a total old lady bathing suit, complete with the little cellulite-on-the-thighs-hiding skirt. It actually looks good--when the 6-year-old saw me in it she gave me the thumbs up and said, "Wait till my dad sees you!"which pretty much validated my total existence, but let's face the facts. The progression over the years has been bikini, then a two-piece providing more coverage, then a one-piece, and now I'm in something resembling an Olympic figure skater's costume. I don't know whether to swim or do a double axle.
Here's a bit from my book, Bastard Husband: A Love Story, on the subject of bathing suits. Enjoy!
You have a big ass and your kids are brats. That’s what I wanted to say to the woman in front of me at Walgreen’s this morning.
He’s been gone two weeks. I’m so depressed and miserable, even Jesus would cross the street if he saw me coming. So in a perverse attempt to see just how far I can press the despondency, I’m heading to the mall to shop for a bathing suit.
After sifting through the racks, I enter the dressing room with eight options in hand, holding particular hope for a cute little number with diamond-shaped cutouts strategically running down the sides. Between the hanger and my body, however, something goes horribly wrong and the thought that security personnel might be watching through a one-way mirror sends me into a panic. Not that I’m concerned about modesty; I would just hate to gross anyone out.
I decide on a simple black two-piece (not a bikini, for God’s sake) that actually doesn’t look too bad. I haven’t worn anything but a maillot for the past 25 years, but I’ve seen what other women wear poolside at my apartment complex and I think I can get away with this.
The minute I get home, I try on my purchase again to make sure I didn’t gain weight in transit and that the mirrors in the store didn’t make me look dubiously thinner. I think sometimes they do, so you’ll buy stuff.
I’m still safe. The bottom is cut high enough to hide most of the stretch marks on my stomach and the bra top makes my boobs look a little bigger than they actually are. I don’t look bad. Hell, I look pretty good.
There’s still about an hour until Guiding Light comes on, so I have time for a swim. This is my life: get up, meditate, do some yoga, read the paper and do both crosswords, give his picture the finger every time I walk by it, go to the pool, and then at two o’clock I watch my soap while eating two bowls of mocha almond fudge ice cream. I kind of like this routine, especially since at some point I’m going to have to get a job.
I wrap a mini-sarong around my waist, tighten my abs and strut myself down to the pool. As I approach the gate, I pass a woman about my mother’s age and a little blond girl in a frilly pink bathing suit with matching flip-flops. I smile at them with the confidence that comes when you know you’re looking good.
The woman smiles back and points to me. “Look, Emily!” she singsongs. “That lady looks like your other grandmother!”
DID SHE SAY I LOOK LIKE SOMEBODY’S GRANDMOTHER?
Well, I am, in fact, a grandmother, but I do NOT look like one. In good lighting, I can pass for 39, which is much too young to be a grandmother, even in Las Vegas.
Jesus Christ, lady, do you have any idea how fragile my self-esteem is? My dipsomaniac husband left ME because he needs to “return to his homeland” and I don’t know if he’s coming back or not, and if he doesn’t, I’ll have to start dating again and break in a new guy, in which case, the situation will eventually lead to nudity—maybe with the lights on—which quite honestly I wouldn’t have worried about until you had to make that stupid fucking comment.
Glaring at the bitch, I say to little Emily, “Your other grandmother must be hot.”