Friday, March 16, 2012

Water Torture. Bring It!

Most of us are drawn towards things that give us a lift. For some it's electronics, others recreational pharmaceuticals. For me, it used to be a cup of tea. [Full disclosure: I drink two cups per day out of both desire and need but, mostly, because it does my body good. Tea addiction is generally classed as one of the least bothersome addictions because not having a cup is often accompanied by some less than attractive side effects: headaches, slightly discoloured teeth and dressing like your grandparents. Before that tea, briefly, it was cigarettes but a well placed advert of a set of teeth exposed to mouth cancer got me wondering: “What the hell?” Enter tea.] As I've progressed with age, however, I have come to the sad realization that what used to classify as "uplifting" usually doesn't meet the daily requirement. And while a cup of tea is still lovely, it simply doesn't cut it now that I'm over forty. What I need these days to rock my world is a paradigm shift.

For those unfamiliar, a paradigm shift is a change from one way of thinking to another. It's a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis that, rather than just happen, is driven by agents of change. Creationist thinking to the theory of evolution, for instance. Geocentrism to Heliocentrism, in astronomy. Old Coke to New Coke. And back to Classic Coke. Searching these out can be next to impossible so when a paradigm shift falls into your lap, you need to seize the opportunity and not turn away.

Mine occurred few weeks ago while bathing suit shopping with my sister.

Stay with me.

For those of you who haven't read a Cathy comic strip and are unfamiliar with the humiliation and torture associated with the purchase of a bathing costume, I will say this: there is no better way to come face to face with what you want out of life than slipping into an over-lighted, under-heated room and seeing how you look in a piece of stretch fabric designed for a pre-pubescent girl with a figure chipped from marble. Good times, right? I used to despise this ritual as well until I found myself in a shopping mall in Gatineau desperate to find a flattering swimsuit in the an oasis of tastelessness. Proof once again, by the way, that you cannot choose where you have your epiphany. I was railing against the universe about how terrible this task was when it occurred to me that the whole exercise was horrendous because I had made the decision to make it so. It was a choice I'd made. Couldn't I decide not to hate it, I thought, to myself? Couldn't I find a way to make it better?

And that's when I decided to share my swimsuit-shopping wisdom to you all and, therefore, uplift us all. Noble, huh? So here's what I learned:

1. Stay away from the department store. The service sucks. The lighting is bad. The music is worse. Badness everywhere. Move on.

2. Stay away from any store with a salesperson who is under 50. The Youngs have no interest in how your butt looks. The Middle-Aged are in still in retail, resentful about it and will take their anger out on the looks they give your thighs. The Older set? They've seen it all. Your thighs are the least of their worries. Go with this group. They will not disappoint.

3. Two words: Lingerie store. Ignore the giant pile of 3 for $25 unders. Move towards the giant sling-shot bras. At the back. Further.Yes! Now turn right. See that little rack hidden by a giant display of lacy housecoats? Behind that rack is what you're looking for: Bathing suit Valhalla.

4. Why are there only 8 or 9 suits here, you will ask yourself? This isn't much choice, you will say, but you will be wrong. What lay before you are the only 8 or 9 bathing suits you will need. Boned, trussed and reinforced, these are the suits that have been sewn - nay, engineered!! - to hold back Nature's cruel joke (yes, this is what I call aging.). These few will uplift mind, body and spirit. And whatever saggy bits make you want to take to the freezer section of the nearest grocer and eat ice cream in your car with a set of car keys. And no, I haven't done this more than once. Pick three and get ye to a fitting room.

5. Be bold. Do not contemplate heading to the maternity department and trying on a floral skirt. And yes, heading away from the department store was a good idea. They may have more suits there but trying to make a sensible choice from what amounts to fluoro rubber bands is no choice at all.

6. Take off your clothes. Put on the costume and do not look at your reflection in the mirror until you've told yourself this: the world will still turn if I don't look good in this. Then look. If you have to go into the bargaining phase in order to contemplate the purchase ("Suck my stomach in for 5 hours won't be so bad, right?) it is not the right suit for you. Do this until your will has been broken down and you go with the one thing that is BF (Bulge Friendly).

7. Finally, when you get home, don't read the label that says 'Material may become
transparent in water". Instead, put your feet up, pour yourself some wine and reassure yourself that learning how to breatstroke in the sand will be nothing compared to what you just went through.

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