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10:20 a.m. - 2012-07-12
Under the boardwalk....

Guess I'm getting some perspective, or I've just become a bit gun shy about speaking here when I'm upset, in any case yesterday started out as a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day but by bedtime things had smoothed out and didn't feel anywhere near as dire as they'd seemed just a few hours earlier. In former times I'd have sat down and pounded out a huge long wail and gone into a whopper of a tailspin and posted the whole mess as though the way I was feeling at the moment was carved in stone. I'd be that miserable forever and ever and ever selah*. (*Hebrew for 'Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Hmmph!')

And here I am this morning all cried out and feeling much clearer. Add one more uppy thing about getting older.

I've never looked good in a bathing suit. Never. Despite being a model and supposedly this hot thing in my salad days I never had a bikini bod or the right proportions to pull off being a beach babe. The hooters have always been too big and on the droopy side even as a teenager. Then there's the hefty speed skater thighs. I haven't ever minded not being a bathing suit type. Truly. It was a relief actually. At the beach I didn't have to be 'on'. I was just some chunky anonymous blank spot in the vista-vision of nearly naked glory. During the late 1970s when every woman under 300lbs was sporting a teeny crocheted string bikini I wore a one-piece. Usually a rather conservative one-piece with boning and sewn-in cups and wide shoulder straps. The boobs demanded it. As I've aged the boob situation has gotten even more critical. Not bragging here. Finding a suit with any kind of support gets more difficult all the time and nowadays my only concern is having a suit that keeps my sprawling droopers contained. Like strapless wedding dresses have become the norm and are no friend to the endowed, even fat lady bathing suits have gone to this uncomfortable and hideously unflattering halter-neck style. Halter-necked suits do me no good. For one thing they have ZERO built-in support. YOU try having a relaxing day at the beach with 20lbs of boobage hanging off your neck. Seriously. Go attach two 10lb sacks of flour to a bungee cord sling it around your neck and try to stand up. It ain't happening, my friends. Then to go with the no support/hurts like hell thing, make sure the slings you try to stuff your boobs into are about as big as cocktail napkins. This is what it's like trying to find a decent comfortable bathing suit when you wear a 42G. Hell. Sheer unadulterated hell.

I'd finally decided I'd buy a sports bra and wear it beneath an old Danskin ballet leotard I'd cut the sleeves off of. But even this was problematic as even sports bras don't come big enough. I guess they figure any woman lugging around a set like mine isn't really into the 'active lifestyle'. Freaks like us are only found in carnival sideshows. Or German fetish porn and really low-rent titty bars.

But all hail The Avenue! Juno and Lane Bryant can kiss my foot. The Avenue, bless them, has come through. I spared myself the torture of going to the store and went straight to ordering the sturdiest, nerdiest, most modestly-cut suits in their online catalog. I figured if the suits were terrible I could have a good shrieking hissy in the privacy of my bedroom and simply return them. But wonder of wonders the two suits I ordered are okay. Not fabulous, but doable. My biggest beef is the prints on both of them are based in the turquoise/aqua family. The ONE color family I loathe. Teal, turquoise, aqua...blerg. Despite my love of silver jewelry I don't own a single piece set with turquoise. I am psychically allergic to it. I've always wanted a Hopi or Navajo squash blossom necklace but it's near impossible to find one that isn't set with turquoise. I've found a couple over the years which were set with jasper but they were ugly fake things.

Anyhoodle I've wandered off topic as usual. The bathing suits. Now that I have my Esther Williams suits complete with modesty panel to hide my camel toe I'm ready for some water. To wit: this coming Tuesday we're going to the shore! Just a day trip. MIL has made it clear she won't keep Princess for us and boarding the dog is out- poor Princess, former beaten and abandoned pup, would DIE if we kenneled her. Dogs can't understand you're coming back for them and I'm afraid the trauma of being left at the doggie hotel would break her heart. And pet sitters are out. Mick is convinced any pet sitter we'd hire will rifle through our stuff, have huge destructive parties and then have their lowlife scum boyfriends come over and take ALL our valuables. I sort of understand Mick's paranoia, he has Things. He has half a dozen scarily expensive bicycles and his antique VW and his boxes and boxes and boxes of *coff* valuable collectables and his Creature From The Black Lagoon memorabilia. Me? I have a clunky desktop and a 4 year old iPod. My precious things have little to no resale value. I fear house fires far more than I fear burglars. Lucky and Mandy the cats would relish having time on their own to finish shredding the couch and clawing the woodwork. They're best pals and wouldn't be lonely at all even if we left them for a week. So, until our wee doggie dies either we take her with us or we're doomed to day-tripping.

I'm not bitching, you understand, we didn't get to the shore at all last year. Not once. I am in severe ocean withdrawal. Going an entire summer without Seaside skews my whole year. I can't deal. Hey, I turned down a lucrative opportunity to relocate to Boulder, Colorado back in the early 1990s because along with a horrible lack of deciduous trees Boulder was 1,800 miles from the Jersey shore. Might sound nuts but I know where my heart and soul are fed. And the one constant, the only place on this planet where the memories are the happiest and purest, to me Summer will ever and always mean Seaside Heights, NJ.

Is it elegant there? No. Is it beautiful as most people define it with public art and talented architecture and native plants? Not a bit. Seaside is greasy, honkytonk, tacky, money-driven, cheesy, and thanks to fricken MTV it's exploited and sullied with those foul-mouthed Guido twerps. But it's still MY place. I'd like to believe it's my kids' summer place too. It's no Ivy League secret society tradition that'll guarantee them a seat amongst the movers and shakers and policy makers. But that was never mine to offer in the first place. What I hope is that I've given my kids is a legacy of joy. A summer place where there is magic. Freedom. Fun. Testing one's mettle against a riptide or a semi-rigged game of chance or the scariest roller coaster on the piers. A place where a good dinner was brick ice cream sandwiched between two smoking hot waffles or a slice of pizza as long as your arm. A cacophony of barker's shouts, AM radio music, winner's bells, the grinding chains of laboring rides climbing steep inclines, the rush of waves, clinking of casino machines, the thudding thunk of a thousand thousand boardwalk strollers, the squawk of gulls, the (mostly) melodic finger-picking of an itinerant busker- guitar in hand and hat at his feet, air rifles, the disembodied voice of the PA announcer as necessary and irrelevant as the one in M*A*S*H, and the hurdy-gurdy of the carousels- refurbished antiques from the time before my time. Holdovers from an age when men wore hats after sunset and ladies wore shirtwaists and ankle-length skirts and the Boardwalk was a mannerly amusement and not the nearly naked casual honkytonk of today.

In the long story 'The Body' (made into the film 'Stand By Me') Stephen King described so well what the summers of childhood leading into adolescence were about to him. As he said (to paraphrase) everybody's definition is going to be different, yet we are all connected by the common thread of 'summer'. Yours might be a pond or a cool dim library or working like a dog on the family farm. Doesn't really matter what your definition is, it's about the common ground of everyone having a 'summer' memory. Just to say the word is to conjure.

Now I have a bathing suit that'll probably let me body surf and splash and float on my back out in the calm swells before the waves heave themselves into breakers. The one and only thing I've ever asked of a bathing suit. "Just keep me decently covered and let me roll with the waves." I don't need to be admired or impress anybody. That's never been my gig. But to find my peace out in the salty ocean? To rest comfortably on the sand? That after a day of floating and rough and tumble in the surf to hose off most of the salt and dress in dry clothes and stroll the boardwalk in search of food and amusement and thrills? Oh yes.

Come Tuesday this is mine.


And I can't wait! ~LA



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