When I told the dressing room attendant at the swimsuit store to brace herself for the screaming, she probably thought I was kidding.
It's been a few years since my dad stonily bought my first bikini at the mall. When we reconnected with the rest of the family he said "sorry we took so long. The cashier dropped Susan's suit on the floor and it took 20 minutes and security to find it."
Since then things have.... changed.
When I drop my current bathing suit on the floor, it takes me 20 minutes to find my purse, my children, and the random small dog that may have been walking by at precisely the wrong time.
Things are different now. Maybe in some ways they're better.
How could it be better, this judging of suits by what they do cover instead of what they don't cover, you ask? It's all a matter of what you look for in a beach day.
There's a disconnect between what I think of when I hear "beach day" and what I experience on a beach day. When I think of spending the day at the beach I imagine reclining chairs set under a canopy. I picture iced drinks with mint leaves. The hors d'oeuvres have no sand in them. I do not know where these things exist, but I've lived at the beach for about15 years and I can tell you, they're not here.
For years I went to the beach, sprayed myself with fryolator oil, and passed out from heat exhaustion. I'd wake to find myself caked in sand and sweat. And then I'd wrap myself in cold, damp cloths to ease the sunburn. I am by nature the color of a fish belly.
So how does my beach scenario change, now that I'm wearing bathing suits that take up an entire dresser drawer? In a word: kaftans.
I am of an age where I can wear kaftans. Kaftans are the next best thing to a canopy and, if I'm not mistaken, are the ticket to being invited under a canopy. "Nice lady! Please come sit with us under our canopy and teach us to play mah jong! Have a drink! I do hope the condensation doesn't spot your lovely kaftan." I still don't know how to play mah jong, but I won't let that get in the way.
I have always loved long flowing things, but back in the day they interfered with my tanning efforts. Bathing suits were selected for the tan lines they would not leave. These days no one wants to know where the tan stops so there is simply no point in exposing any more of me than is necessary (I have lovely ankles).
Kaftans have an air of cool sophistication. The bikinis which I choose not to buy (you're welcome) do not have an air of cool sophistication.
In a kaftan I will be unruffled. I will be a serene oasis in a landscape of sweaty, sandy, overheated, sunburned humanity. I will be the woman that all the other women hope to be when they are of the right age to wear a kaftan.
And if it doesn't work out exactly like I had hoped, I will at least have something nice to put on when I go out to feed the chickens in the morning.
I just wish I had thought of this before I tried on all those suits. I bet the dressing room attendant does, too.