The worst things in life sneak up on you from behind. Let me tell you a story:
Once upon a time, there was no spandex.
If you’re younger than dirt, don’t panic – those dark ages are long gone. Many regret their passing (particularly when forced to view Walmart shoppers), but you, my children, will likely never be required to live without spandex.
This story takes place very long ago, back in a primitive era when there were no cell phones, computers took up entire buildings, and people listened to things called “record albums”, which contained only about ten songs and required playback equipment approximately the size of an Austin Mini.
But the glorious light of progress dawned, and spandex was invented in 1959. Shortly thereafter, bathing suits became much safer to wear in the presence of water since, unlike the previous archaic materials, spandex didn’t sag and bag when wet.
I grew up on a farm near a backwater town in rural Manitoba, where dubious fads such as flush toilets were regarded with suspicion and adopted slowly, if at all. Clothing fashions filtered down to us approximately ten years after they were fashionable everywhere else, so I still remember the days of swimsuits without spandex. Fortunately, we did most of our swimming in the dugout on our farm, so wardrobe malfunctions resulting from saggy swimsuits were limited in the scope of their humiliation.
But when I was in my early teens, I got my first Speedo. For those of you permanently scarred by itty-bitty Speedos for men, I assure you my Speedo was a one-piece suit that covered more than most blouses and shorts cover today. It was fabulous. It fit even when it was wet.
Sadly, I didn’t get to wear it for long because I grew out of it (vertically, not horizontally as I tend to grow out of garments these days). But after I achieved my more-or-less-final adult dimensions, I bought another spandex-enriched bathing suit.
I’d also like to mention that while we weren’t exactly poor, we didn’t waste money. So that bathing suit had to last. And last. And last.
And it did. Until the fateful day when I put it on in bright light instead of a dingy change room. And when I held it up, I discovered that the network of spandex was still there… but every other fibre in the entire butt-end of the swimsuit was worn away.
I’d never noticed it before. I had no idea how many times I had paraded around at pools and beaches with my ass completely visible through spandex mesh.
After careful consideration, I decided it was better not to know.
These days, I’m much more careful. I own a new bathing suit and I wear stretchy workout shorts, but I check my rear view in the mirror frequently, if not obsessively. It’s not a particularly gratifying pastime, and it’s becoming steadily less rewarding as gravity lowers my common denominator. But at least I won’t be ambushed by anything that’s happening back there.
And I subscribe wholeheartedly to the philosophy of “cover your ass”.