Wednesday, June 1, 2011


One of the most painful days of my year happened last week, and it was all because I wanted to help my husband.

You see, he’s unable to exercise, due to his bad knees and back, so his doctor suggested he might benefit from swimming because it puts no pressure on the joints, yet burns calories and provides an aerobic workout for the heart.

“A lot of the hotels in the area will let you use their indoor pools for a small hourly fee,” the doctor said. “Or you can join the YMCA. You really should check into it.”

When my husband got home from the doctor’s office, I could tell he wasn’t too enthused about the swimming idea. “I haven’t gone swimming in so many years, I don’t even know if I can still float. I might sink like a rock and drown!”

Before I could comment, he added, “And you know me, I don’t like to go anywhere alone. I need moral support at all times.” The look he gave me clearly told me he was hoping I’d volunteer to go with him.

“Well, I suppose I could go with you and watch you while you swim,” I said. “And keep you company.”

He shook his head. “I want your company in the water with me, not sitting on the edge watching me.”

The man is a sadist.

I’d just read an article about the cut-off ages for different clothing, which immediately popped into my mind. It said women over 47 should never wear bikinis, and women in their 60s shouldn’t wear bathing suits at all.

I remember wondering if that meant women in their 60s should swim fully clothed…or naked. I also remember feeling highly insulted. I’m sure no one would complain if Cher, who’s in her 60s, showed up in a bikini, or if Sophia Loren wore a bathing suit.

I, unfortunately, am neither Cher nor Sophia Loren.

Not wanting to be the cause of my husband’s demise due to a lack of exercise, I rummaged through the closet until I found my most recent swimsuit, which I’d purchased back when gas was 88 cents per gallon. It was a one-piece made of a shiny black material with thin straps and a glittery rainbow design diagonally across one hip. The built-in bra was so pointy, if I swam in the ocean while wearing it, I could spear enough fish to feed a family of four.

So, with the thought in the back of my mind that women in their 60s shouldn’t wear swimsuits, I defiantly headed to the mall to check out the merchandise.

I knew that bikinis had become tinier and tinier over the years, but I actually was rendered speechless when I saw some of them. One suit looked like two bottle caps and a Dorito. Even if I were 20 and nothing on my body was heading south, I’d never dare wear something like that. One sneeze and I’d be arrested for indecent exposure.

I found a rack of more modest-looking suits and tried to picture myself in each one. I’d recently read that a high-cut leg on a swimsuit would elongate the legs and make them look slimmer. Unfortunately, a high-cut leg also exposes the saddlebags on the thighs instead of holding them in – and my saddlebags look like two Bigfoot tires.

Still, I wasn’t ready to settle for the dreaded skirt to camouflage my saddlebags. I don’t know what it is about skirts on swimsuits, but the designers always describe them as “flirty” when they actually look more like “reserve me a room in the retirement home.”

I learned something while looking at swimsuits. There are one-piece suits that can camouflage tummy bulges, lift sagging breasts, slim the waist and make a flat butt look round, but there is nothing to make legs look better. So even if I found a suit that made me look like a Playboy centerfold from the tops of my thighs up to my chin, there still would be two legs with spider veins, saggy knees and “cankles” (fat calves that droop down and cover the ankles) sticking out from under it.

I came home empty handed. In fact, to spare myself weeks of nightmares, I never even tried on a swimsuit. When I told my husband why, he said, “Well, I have a solution. Just get one of those old-fashioned swimsuits from the 1800s, with the long bloomers down past the knees.”

I really hope he’ll enjoy going swimming by himself.

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