Once past a certain age, or weight, there are few more stressful times for a female than buying bathers. For me, yesterday was the first time I had embarked on this task for, oh... about twenty-nine years. Give or take a year, and several kilos. But I distinctly remember purchasing a stringy little bikini (predominantly white, with splashes of royal blue and red and cunningly positioned yachts), at a surf shop on the Sunshine Coast back in about 1981. And, if I say so myself, it looked pretty damn good.
But for the past twenty-odd years, since the stringy pair - and its cohorts - stopped coming even close to covering what they were supposed to, I've just worn a tennis skirt (one of those lycra numbers with the built-in knickers) and t-shirt. But tomorrow I'm off to Sydney for a short cruise back down the coast to Melbourne for Leanne's 50th birthday celebrations. And there'll be lots of dipping of toes into crystal-clear water, or lounging on deckchairs with Audrey Hepburn sunglasses and hat, cocktail in hand. Hence the need for proper bathing attire. It completes the look (and is also rather useful for swimming in).
Now I wasn't fooling myself into assuming the task, this time, would have quite the same ease (or aesthetic results) as the 1981 expedition, but I sure didn't expect to be catapulted into a depression that lasted several days (and could only be alleviated by chocolate, which holds a certain [albeit delicious] irony). The bottom line (as flat as it may be) is that they don't make bathers for plump woman. Even the ones with folds and flaps over the stomach do little more than just decorate the belly - and, believe me, that's the last thing my belly deserves. It'll only encourage it. As for those inbuilt bras! Even after I folded my no-longer quite so pert appendages into the elasticated cup thingamajigs, they categorically refused to stay there. Sliding out wilfully whenever I tried to adjust another part of the costume, or having to be rescued from under an armpit if I stretched. Heaven knows what would happen if you actually dared go swimming in one of these things - you'd probably end up with water wings, whether you wanted them or not.
As I brought back yet another twelve pairs from the fitting room that didn't even come close to fitting (which makes the whole 'fitting' room label a total misnomer - where bathers are concerned, they should be called 'pre-therapy rooms' or even 'gyms', because you might look like shit but at least you get a work-out), a woman of about the same age and weight sympathised, saying she also found shopping for a pair of bathers rathers stressful. The sympathy was welcome (a quick drink from a surreptitious hip flask would have been even more welcome), but the comment got me thinking (clearly I was searching for distraction)- why do we call them a pair of bathers? Shouldn't it be a set of bathers? Or even a strait-jacket of bathers? Something to ponder...
But as far as this cruise goes, I'll be the one lounging by the pool in tennis skirt and t-shirt. Luckily the dark sunglasses and hat will grant me a certain anonymity, and the cocktails will mean I just don't give a damn anyway. And it'll be tremendous fun regardless. Happy birthday Leanne!