In my opinion, it should be punishable by law for a man to take a woman, weighing over eighty-five pounds, to the beach for a first date. I must admit, the mental anguish caused by the threat of beachwear-application does, in fact, override the anxiety of meeting a new man.
I had not seen Chris yet. Ours was a blind date. During our date-planning telephone conversation, he suggested that we spend a day at the beach and get to know one another. Almost as quickly as the words came through the receiver, my mind was set in motion. I was desperate to think of an excuse, any excuse, not to expose my tummy bulge and ample thighs to someone who might not fully appreciate them. I thought about telling him that it was that time of the month. I even considered telling him that I was an albino. Then I realized that if I wanted to meet him, I would have to take my body with me. So, with pseudo-enthusiasm, I agreed to participate in this torture called ... A beach date.
The first plan of action was to find a bathing suit that would reveal yet cover completely. A tall order. I went to a local bathing suit shoppe. “Black,” I said to the salesgirl. “Any one piece in black, maybe navy blue.”
“Size?” the anorexic Barbiesque sales-goddess shouted from behind the counter.
“Those will be fine,” I groused as I grabbed the spandex swatches from her and headed for the dressing rooms.
I attempted to squeeze my size 13/14 body into the washcloth-sized suits while keeping the straining and groaning to a minimum. While struggling in the dressing room, I could overhear the conversation of two waitress/spokesmodels.
“Look at me,” one said. “I’m so fat. I gained an entire pound. I’m going on a starvation diet tomorrow.”
To console her friend, the other one said, “Don’t feel so bad, I’m up to a size four and my legs almost rub together when I walk.”
If it wasn’t for the fact that I was being held in a Full-Nelson by a tank-suit, I may have hurt them.
I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye so I looked up to investigate. Eew. Standing there was a doughy-iridescent-skinned woman with her white cotton underpants peeking out from the bathing suit’s leg openings. I considered suggesting that she purchase a nice, flattering terrycloth cover-up. But, I decided to mind my own business. Imagine my surprise when I realized ... it was my reflection in the mirror! The fluorescent lights threw me off.
I chose the least offensive suit of the lot, handed the sales-goddess $170.00 in cash. Six twenties and a ten. I grew impatient as she tried to figure the change on the $169.00 sale. As I was leaving the shoppe, I vowed never to return to that den of elastic horrors even if it meant wearing faux-denim polyester shorts and an oversized T-shirt to the next beach party.
On the morning of the date, I donned my new beach apparel. I looked okay. After all, I had been dieting for a full day and a half and figured that if I took shallow breaths and concentrated on muscle control, I could continue sucking in my stomach until I laid down on the sand.
When Chris and I arrived at the beach, there was no time for small talk. It was time to “set up.” I proceeded to strategically arrange the ice chest, beach bags, and sand chairs around my towel; thus, cutting off any direct view of my body. I considered posting a sign that said, “CAUTION, Objects may appear closer than they actually are.”
Once “set up,” I laid down and shimmied out of my coordinated Hawaiian print cabana-set without raising any part of my body more than two inches above the towel, an acquired skill. To avoid the dreaded thigh-spread which occurs when a soft, less stable surface (thighs) rest on a hard surface (sand), I firmly planted my feet in the sand, securing the bend in my knees at ninety degree angle. So there I was, on a beach date. No one was going to get a rearview of me, if I had anything to say about it. Nothing was going to move me for the rest of the day: Not a swarm of bees, not a tidal wave, not even the ice cream man. So there I lay amongst the various beach items. It was the longest day of my life.
You may be wondering if I enjoyed spending the day with Chris. Frankly, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to talk with him. At the beginning of the date, I was too busy building and defending my beach-fort. I spent the rest of the day concentrating on stomach muscle control and fighting off sunstroke. I did learn something very interesting as a result of my behavior though. I learned that ice chest handles have very distinguishable shapes when (sun)burned onto skin.