Letting It All Hang Out

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”.

31 thoughts on “Letting It All Hang Out

  1. Pingback: Never Turn Your Back On Your Car | Author Diane Henders

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  3. Pingback: Covering My Ass | Diane Henders

  4. hmmm, why does this feel like continuation of our earlier conversation over getting “rescued from side of the road” topic.lol. I suppose ass-exposed spandex will probably get you rescued quicker…


  5. I’ve seen naked old men parading around in the health club locker room, and I’ve seen them parading around in tiny Speedos. It’s a tough choice, and one of the reasons I work out at home now.

    Great post, Diane. Your honesty is refreshing, and inspiring.


  6. Having discovered that Spandex is the USA’s term for Elastane (or Lycra) – I say unto you: “urghghlllblarg!” In swimsuits, fine. In everything else no – it’s in everything these days. And – eek, there’s you with the annoying stuff all over your butt but nothing else… I’m not surprised you check your rear end regularly now! 😉


  7. Hi Diane

    This rates as the absolute best use of the term “Austin Mini” that I’ve ever seen. In the entire history of the internet no one has ever linked spandex to anything produced by the Austin Motor Corp. Brilliant.

    Strangely enough I used to own and drive a 1959 Mini (actually called an Austin Seven). It was great fun to drive in traffic (you desperately avoided the brakes because it took so long to speed up again) and contained absolutely no spandex!



    • Glad you liked my Mini reference. 🙂 And your comment about the brakes made me laugh! Sounds like the 1978 Pontiac Acadian I used to drive. It was a cousin of the Chevy Chevette, which we not-so-fondly christened the “Shove-It” because your only hope for acceleration was to get out and push.

      But, wow, no spandex in the 1959 Seven. What a missed opportunity for the Austin Motor Corp.


  8. My bathing suit lesson in life: never, ever sew your own bathing suit when you are 12, and then go off the high dive. Especially if you were maybe not so diligent in your stitching on the straps.


    • LOL! Okay, that’s a big ‘oops’! And I have to laugh, because I sewed my own bathing suit when I was about that age, too. I’m pretty sure that’s why I ended up buying the Speedo shortly afterward…


  9. Your funny post reminded me that spandex and Speedos still make their appearance at the beach or poolside on middle-aged Eastern European men with large girths. Their spandex and/or Speedo outfits are worn directly under the armpits and are accompanied by black socks and shoes. For reasons I cannot understand, they consider themselves quite dapper in this fashion faux-pas.


  10. Oh boy… that sounds like something I would do. I am always so busy making sure “the girls” aren’t falling out and trying to make sure they are “pointing” in the right direction (usually one is going south-east and one is going south-west… sadly neither are ever pointed north these days) that I never even look at my backside. I just checked my suits… thankfully none are see through at the moment!! Thanks for the laugh and the heads up!!


  11. For some reason I picture you telling this story while pouring yourself a whiskey and having a smoke. Those somehow seem to be the best props for a “I’m tellin’ it like it is” kind of talk.

    My love-hate relationship with spandex will probably endure for as long as I live.


  12. When I was little, I used to wear a pair of woolen swimming trunks, that got gradually bigger the longer I was in water in them. It was a good job I was too young to even care, but I don’t recall any nasty surprises cropping up – or down as the case may be. I couldn’t imagine wearing holey ones, though, Diane, I bet you were flaberghasted!


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