LAUGHLINES: Swimsuit Season? That Ship Has Sailed

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For the first time in my adult life, I am not “in the swim,” so to speak.

My beach bag stuffed full of bathing suits and shoved in the back of the closet remains there, and that’s where it may stay. Have I become too old to wear a bathing suit? Sort of.

Like most women, I have a very complicated swimsuit history. It began as a kid, when my mom would buy two identical suits for my twin and me, usually with frills and little skirts.

When I hit junior high, I picked my own suits: Speedos. They were plain, bra-less, and built for speed and for actual water. My Speedo was for swimming and diving and water-skiiing. No potential bra-malfunctions, no tiny little ties to untie. I was comfortably covered up.

During high school, lots of my friends opted for two-piece suits — the dreaded bikini — but I clung to that Speedo. Call me conservative, but no one ever saw my belly button except me, and that was okay. I was still swimming and jumping and diving, after all.

When I got to college, you’d think that all hell would break loose in the swimsuit department, but it didn’t. Still covered up the belly, but I do recall a little less swimming and a little more walking the beach.

Ironically, it was only after I got married that I dared buy a two-piece suit, but I still couldn’t bring myself to buy it at an actual store. I was sure I’d chicken out seeing my mushy, winter-white skin in that carnival sideshow dressing room mirror, bathed in that ugly fluorescent light. Catalogues were the weapon of choice, and I chose a sedate black two-piece, at least two sizes too big.

Off to the beach I went, and I realized I didn’t look half bad. It helped that the glare makes it impossible for anyone to see what anyone else looks like anyway. No one tried to roll me back into the water, my husband thought my belly-button looked hot (it was, literally) and I discovered that browned belly flab looks a lot better than white. I was hooked (badda bing).

Many seasons of two-pieces have come and gone … and last year, I bought a Speedo. A one-piece. No, I wasn’t swimming, or diving or water-skiiing. I realized I was back to covering up, and at my age, that was a good thing for all concerned. No one needed to see my vanishing belly-button, the varicose road-maps on my thighs, or my crepe-y cleavage. Even me.

This year, I’m looking at that Speedo and thinking it’s time to retire with honors and get a nice pair of white capris and a cute top.

The curtain has finally come down my belly-button — wherever it is.

About Cate Drew

I’m on the high side of 40, with three dogs, two teens and one husband, living in a small New England town in a house that’s never quiet. Ever. It’s not that I have a really colorful life – I just tend to write colorfully about it. And there’s plenty of material: marriage to the Man of a Thousand Bad Ideas,.. my mom, who moved Dad’s coffin closer to the street six months after he died so she could visit his grave as a kind of drive-up window…our dog posse…our kids…lots of siblings and in-laws, former co-workers, old boyfriends -- they’re all here. Toss in 14 years of Catholic school and you’ve got a lot of guilt, too. Which reminds me: forget “high side of 40.” I’m 51, damnit.