‎"...a little 'trouty', but quite good" ~ Eve Kendall, North By Northwest

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Beachwear

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.

15 comments:

Susan Gedutis Lindsay said...

Goddess.

Bella said...

right age... really? i believe that i am your age and when i put on a kaftan, i get the obnoxious question of "when are you due?" yes. i would love to be at the right age and wear lovely flowing things without being interrogated by the population police or family planning people. apparently people around you are more civilized than to ask stupid questions.

justmakingourway said...

I especially like that the kaftan can be "proportioned to your height."

Greg said...

We should really work on this Hors D'ouevres-At-The-Beach thing - it can't be so insurmountable as all that.

beans said...

These ARE in style now, with the whole Boho craze. And it's a trend I agree with. Beach living calls for garments that transition easily from the beach to the market. And skin coverage is another trend that's all the rage. A lady can leave the house in a kaftan and big floppy hat without the slightest trace of Mrs. Roper. I have acquired half a drawer of bathing suits since living on Cape. Admittedly, I do own 4 bikinis, but I am also stocked with some flattering 1 pieces with adjustable "attachments" depending on my level of insecurity or whether or not I had m&m's for dinner two days ago.

Susan said...

Susan - I love the new profile picture!

Bella - The trick is to make people afraid to talk to you. then no one asks. I will give you a tutorial on this.

JMOW- they thought of everything, right? No one wants a high water kaftan.

Greg - please see to that. My fork is poised.

Beans - yes yes yes! I am glad to be in such good company (I think we work next to each other? You on sunday and me on wednesday, but otherwise, next door.)

beans said...

Yes! We do. And I wrote the previous comment on said premises.

Gaelynn said...

I think Mrs. Roper of 3's Company was a visionary. She had lovely Kaftans.

Lemon Gloria said...

I regret all my sunblockless tanning days in the harsh Indian sun. I've been paying for it for years. Caftans seem like a good solution, like your own umbrella. I think maybe you need one of those beach turbans to go with it, although that's no sun protection. Perhaps a large glam hat.

My verifying word is upecha, which sounds remarkably close to youbetcha, doncha think?

Debbie said...

It is cruel to women that we even have to try on swimsuits! I have started just ordering mine and that way I can try them on and cry in my own house:)

Tiny Dancer said...

Hey, I had a really cool, psychedelic caftan in college. I think it might be that very pattern! Haven't worn one since. Wonder if it's time to sew another?

The Empress said...

oh my g..oh my g...the beach caftan. I know what you mean...

Rose Brier Studio said...

ooh, I really like your new look!

Frith said...

My friend Stacy at Mama-Om linked to your blog from hers and I'm so glad. I LOVED this post - being of a certain age, with a somewhat variable mid-riff. I flirted with salwar kameez a couple of years ago, and wore saris for several summers - both nice, ample, and accommodating. Oh, and scrummy fabrics.

Anonymous said...

Erm, did the dressing room attendant also try on all the suits?

Anyway Hemingway, why do women think they can only show a bit of flesh when they´re between 15 and 25? Nothing wrong with a 40+ mother if you ask me...

George (who shamelessly showed of his 40+ swimming-trunks-clad-and-did-those beers-taste-good body this summer)