Swimming suit ads in most of the recent Sunday newspapers confirm summer is almost here. However, I’m a low consumer of seasonal goods. My ten year old faded baggy olive green swim suit still covers my body. So the ad didn’t work on me, but it conjures some amusing thoughts about how we in the USA dress (and undress) based on the changing seasons.
When it is summertime our personal comfort zones usually determine how much skin we’ll expose on the beach or at pool side. Have you noticed that exposure levels seem to work on some age scale? Babies can run on the beach like on the day they were born. Then they get a little older and cover up some skin. Starting in the early teen years most of us increase skin exposure and at some point swimsuits are barely there. I suppose the option of going all natural could happen on a nude beach if you are not a little kid. Not that my own comfort zone could bare it. This reminds me of when I once swam across a bay in Jamaica to a speck of sand out in the water not knowing it was a nude beach. After a challenging swim that involved fighting barracuda and countless 38 foot great white sharks, I was lucky to make it to the island. As I came over the sand dune I was startled by the sight of bulbous pale tropical whales lying motionless on the white sugar sand. Then I realized it was just a pod of beached naked middle aged men. Next to each fellow was a younger woman with either exposed sunburned implants or plump red cheeky bums. Due to my comfort zone, I had no time to recover from my treacherous swim. I dove into the bay and kicked my way back to the main island. And this is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me.
But let me get back to those swimming suit ads. It’s a curious thing, how we’ll spend three of four seasons each year making sure we keep ourselves modestly covered most of the time. Then the newspaper swimsuit ad appears and we’ll peel down to swimming suits that are skimpier than our undies. Most grownups wouldn’t go public in their undies but we’ll go to a pool party in a negligee (just the ladies) or in something like a Speedo. Ok, I confess there was a time when I did wear a Speedo. I was a lap swimmer and those skin-tight suits made it easier to glide through the water. But my Speedo days are over unless I get rich and build a private lap pool.
So the passage of time has an effect on the swimsuit we will wear to the pool party. Come to think of it, perhaps there isn’t much difference in appearance between my being natural and my wearing that decade old baggy bleached out swimming suit. But I guess it’s better not to think too hard about that mental picture.
So think about the lyrics from, “The Girl From Impanena” by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius De Moraes and Norman Gimbel. “Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Impanena goes walking…And when she passes, each one she passes goes, ah.” I’ll play this song many times over the next few months and appreciate the beautiful woman in my life…my wife. In each of us exists another level of beauty that has no relationship to our physical age. But you should still put on sunscreen!