I made the mistake of trying on bathing suits yesterday. I know. January is not the month for that. I assumed that it would be a more pleasant experience than in recent years, having lost some weight and rearranged a couple of crucial body parts. Unfortunately, I forgot that there was pasty white skin lurking beneath my clothes. I went to a shop that only sells beachwear, so the lighting in the dressing room was forgiving and designed to make skin look pinkish, but it couldn’t disguise either the marks around my waist from my jeans or the elastic from my socks around my calves.
First, I had to struggle with size. What size am I now? My old suits don’t fit. The tops stood away from my body, which horrified me that I ever wore such a thing in the first place, not to mention that it fit! The first tops that I tried on were too small. I wasn’t sure how to take that. Should I be happy that I still have some womanly curves or concerned that I still have that pesky “arm pit fat” that I didn’t know I had until the surgeon pointed it out to me?
And I still have hips. I’ve always had hips, even when I weighed a hundred pounds. With hope in my heart, I tried on a size “small” bottom, but it dug into my fat — er — skin, so I went with the medium bottom, which I’ve always worn. The more things change, the more they remain the same. There was a time when I wore real bikinis. I’m always shocked when I see what I used to wear, but, like most of the fleet, that ship has sailed.
So, what style? High-waisted bottom? Skirted? Low cut top? Screaming red? Horizontal stripes? Metallics? One piece? Tankini? I’ve always worn black and navy, so it would be nice to enliven my color palette (as the magazines say).
I decided on tankinis, those two-piece suits that allow you to cover up your midsection. Since I never go into the water (except a hot tub or briefly into the pool to cool off), I like their convenience. I prefer to sit in a lounge chair, basting and turning like a chicken, while I read the latest chick lit and sip on a cold drink. This can take a few hours, so I usually need to visit the ladies’ room from time to time, and I have no patience with tugging at a one piece. If the cold drink is an adult beverage, I may not be coordinated enough to manage it.
Timidly, I tried on a black number that was jazzed up with a little crocheted lace trim and a little skirt for the bottom. I texted a selfie to The Daughter for her opinion.
“Lingerie?” She jumped in her car and drove to meet me at the mall. God only knows what kind of senility had overcome her mother.
I tried on another suit with a little ruffle around the bodice and the bottom. Again, it was conservatively black, although the narrow ruffle was a print, predominately coral. It had a built-in bra. Much more appropriate for a 62-year old woman. Surely, the Daughter would approve.
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about what your daughter thinks,” the kind saleslady advised, as she took away a ghastly horizontally striped two piece in hot pink and navy. “Age is just a number.” Yeah, sure. You just want to make a sale. I’m the one who’s going to hear about it while we’re on vacation.
For many years, when I was in my 30s, I kept a New Yorker cartoon on my bathroom mirror. It showed an older woman in a lacy, off-the-shoulder, debutante-style dress with a bow in her hair and a cameo necklace. The caption read, “Clara never realized that time had passed.” Of course, 30 years ago, “Clara” was seen through a glass dimly, but I kept it as a reminder. Unfortunately, I lost that cartoon when we remodeled the bathroom, but, somehow, “Clara” has started appearing in my mirror.
“Maybe it’s the skirted bottom,” the helpful saleslady brought a plain bottom to the dressing room. “Try this one. It’s not as busy.” She was right. It looked sleeker and less like a tap costume. Still, there was no bra in the top, and, no matter how perky my recent “rearrangement” left me, I felt a little too exposed. I sprang for the ruffled suit and asked them to hold the one with the lace for the Daughter’s approval. I met her outside the store.
“Listen,” I said, “they’re holding that black suit for me that you thought was lingerie. I’m not sure I should buy it, so, when I show it to you, say you don’t like it.”
“OK,” she agreed. We walked into the store, and the saleslady produced the suit.
“OMG!” The Daughter exclaimed. “I love it. You should buy it.” Traitor! I gave her The Look.
“You see,” she explained to the saleslady, “my mother is doing online dating now but doesn’t really present herself all that well. She needs to be more exciting. Mom, you should definitely buy that suit, and, if you don’t like it, you should give it to me.”
I have six weeks left on my Match subscription, and I think I’m done. I’ve tried everything. I tried being myself. I tried being non-offensive. I tried being someone else for about 24 hours. Now, I’ve hidden my profile until my membership expires. The Daughter is concerned that I’m wasting money, but it all seems to have been a money waster from the beginning. I’ve emailed over 20 men who appeared to be “matches” and only heard from the one who said tersely, “We are not a match.” I was advised that men like to be the pursuer and are turned off by women who approach them first. I was advised that it’s a new world and that women shouldn’t wait for a man to approach them. A Catch-22 situation all around.
Last week, I heard from multiple scammers, including another woman who claimed to be writing for her boss. I also heard from one of the many inappropriate men on Match. He was 65, never married, and agnostic with shoulder length hair (!), who described himself as an “underachieving wiseass…looking for a drama free woman.” He wrote, “Would you take a chance on a hippie who is now attoning [sic] for his misspent youth?”
Oh, you have got to be kidding me. I’m one of the few people of my generation who has never smoked weed. I wasn’t a hippie when everyone flirted with being a hippie in the 60s and 70s, not even beads and peace symbols or even macramé plant holders. I still can’t stand the smell of patchouli.
My freshman year in college in 1971, I had a French language instructor who owned one pair of ripped jeans, two ribbed turtlenecks (one navy, one mauve), a pair of lace-up moccasins, and a necklace of beaded flowers. Her fashion sense was to ring her eyes with kohl and plaster her lips with Max Factor Erace (that old grease-stick concealer). We had a mutual dislike for one another. I wore skirts and bell-bottomed slacks with real shoes and was the best student in the class. It drove her nuts.
She also chain-smoked during class, one of those ghastly things that people are no longer allowed to inflict on others. One day, she finished a cigarette, dropped it on the classroom floor, and, while rubbing it out, ground a hole through the bottom of her moccasin and burned her foot. You know what they say about Karma…
In answer to your question, sir, “No. No hippies. No one of any kind who hasn’t gotten over their misspent youth or even their misspent middle-age.”
Maybe I should just misspend my “Golden Years.” Maybe I’ll keep that little lacy black tankini for myself. Since the geezers my age think I’m too old for them, I can always blame it on senility, so who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!