I made the mistake of slipping (after greasing my entire body with bear fat) into some of this season's newest designs, all of which are made specifically for twenty-year-olds with perfect bodies.
The first suit I managed to get into (after twenty minutes of trying...and it was MY size) immediately cut off the circulation to all my vital organs. The dressing room attendant found me on the floor, blue and gasping. The paramedics had to have a surgeon on the phone to talk them through getting me out of the thing! But did I take the hint and go home?
Oh, no. Not me.
I tried on another one.
It was called "Palm Tree," I think because if you take one look at yourself in it, you'll want to hang yourself from the nearest one.
Next was the "Chaplin" model. If you don't feel like a little tramp in this number, then you have no shame whatsoever.
Then there were the suits with push-up bras. I tried on one of these and it made me look like I was suffering from some sort of weird glandular condition. I flashed back to that commercial, "I've fallen and I can't get up!" because if I ever fell over in that thing, the floor would be my home.
Conversely, there are suits that have built-in "bottom shapers." I'd be afraid to swim in one of those for fear I'd be molested by any number of large seagoing mammals. And the manatee look wasn't quite the image I was going for, anyway.
I finally gave up on the two-piece suits and switched to one piece.
These were no better.
The first one I tried had so many straps that went in such a multitude of directions that it would have made a better macrame plant holder than a piece of apparel. Who designs these things? A dominatrix with a grudge?
At last, I'd had enough.
When the clerk came to check on my progress, I reached out, grabbed her by the throat, and yanked her into my dressing room.
"Arrrrgh," she remarked pleasantly.
"OK, listen up and listen good," I growled in my best Edward G. Robinson. "I'm going to hold you hostage here until I get a bathing suit that fits me, see? I want a suit that hugs my body, not bitch slaps it senseless, see? I want contours, not contortion, you mug! I WANT TO LOOK LIKE I BELONG AT A RESORT, NOT AT A CONDEMNED BUILDING!"
"Arrrrrrgh!" she replied. I released my choke hold.
"Well, we do have suits in plus siz.....ARRRRRRGH!"
"Wrong answer!" I shrieked, renewing my grip. "I am a size EIGHT, not eighteen!"
In the meantime, the department manager had arrived to extricate his clerk from my clutches and the dressing room—in that order.
"Ma'am? Why don't you put down the clerk and we'll give you what you want?" So now I had plus sizes and a manager cum hostage negotiator. Apparently, while I wasn't looking, I had become both John Dillinger AND the Hindenburg!
Oh, yeah. This was gonna be a good day.
After the clerk recovered enough to demand, and get, an immediate transfer to another department and the manager located a comfortable suit in my size (from a dusty box labeled, "Retro Suits--1960) I moved on to the shoe department to find a pair of nice looking sandals.
Now understand that I have rather unusual feet, so shoe shopping is not much better than bathing suit shopping. My shoe size is 8 AAAA. My feet are so narrow that I can pick locks and butter toast with them and they are always the headache of the day to the salesperson unlucky enough to draw my custom.
But this salesperson was the unluckiest--it was the transferred clerk from the swimsuit department. She took one look at me advancing on her and, grabbing the two handiest shoes, formed a protective cross and held it before her. I think she may have thrown some holy water in my general direction, too, before legging it out of there.
Oh, well, I can always go barefoot.
My shopping list, far from satisfied, included hats, lounge wear, formal wear, lingerie, and casual wear, so I made my way to the appropriate departments.
From the way the salespeople reacted, I surmised that the swimsuit clerk had paid a warning visit to each of them prior to my arrival. They were all decidedly edgy and either pretended not to notice me or had urgent business elsewhere. I sighed, tore my list to confetti, then moved on to a department I hadn't planned to visit.
And now, here I am, enjoying the sun and the Mediterranean-blue water, a drink within easy reach.
How did I get here?
The refund I got on my cruise ticket paid for the above ground pool I ordered from the Outdoor department on my fateful shopping trip. I also bought a little ocean liner toy boat to float at the opposite end. With a little imagination (and if you squint), it looks like a cruise ship anchored off shore.
If I've learned anything it's that, though a strong constitution is required to deal with sea travel, it is nothing compared to the constitution needed for the pre-cruise shopping trip!