Friday, July 16, 2010
She Ain't What She Used to Be
Is there anything more horrific than shopping for new swimwear after having four children? (I know, I know, try it after having five.)
My poor old suit has seen better days, and although it still fits (I am proud to say) it was getting worn quite thin and developing holes. So, after repeating to myself a few times "Swimwear is ALWAYS way more expensive than it should be. Swimwear is ALWAYS way more expensive than it should be" to prepare myself for sticker shock, I bit the bullet, loaded up the kids, and headed to the specialty shops where they reportedly sell modest clothing and swimwear. I had never even been in either shop. Come to think of it, I haven't tried shopping for clothes with my children for years, not since Boston was a baby and crawled out of the dressing room under the door while I was still indecent and I had to throw my clothes back on and sprint down the hall and into Kohl's and search for a baby under the racks.
I didn't last long in the first shop after I realized that they only sold two piece suits that were actually three pieces THAT YOU HAD to PURCHASE SEPARATELY. What a racket!! I told Mark it would be the equivalent of a man purchasing swimming trunks and the liner briefs separately, therefore paying double.
I had better luck at the second shop where there were only two pieces to buy. Even that proved to be challenging, though, because there must have been a lot of women with lower halves like mine (because they were all sold out except in the most freakish of colors), and not hardly any with upper halves (because none of those fit). I'm used to this dilemma--somehow the fashion industry doesn't cater to me--being more of an Audrey Hepburn/Keira Knightley type than a Marilyn Monroe/Heidi Klum. There were a few that I thought would work, in an extremely unattractive yellow and green pattern. They were the only matched set my size in the whole store. (No wonder I have shopping nightmares where there is no chocolate on the whole candy aisle, only DOTS and Lemonheads.)
At this point Leslie was wringing her hands and reminding me that it was almost time to take them to swimming lessons, so I wheeled my bus-like double stroller into the fortunately vacant row of dressing rooms. After some maneuvering I parked it in the large, handicapped room, directed Boston and Leslie inside with the other two, gave some instructions that amounted to "Sit! Stay!", had them lock the door, and rushed myself into the much smaller, much more private, adjoining room. Otherwise known as the Chamber of Humiliation.
I don't want to dwell much on the visual part of those few moments (and I will give you the audio in a minute). Suffice it to say, I want to keep a good sense of humor and appreciation for the physical strain of motherhood. I love what Utah author Shannon Hale had to say on this subject. One of her characters remarks to her husband, "You broke it, you bought it, Babe!" With a sigh, I decided that the swimsuit was good enough. Did it come in gray? Mare sized?
While I was posturing in front of the unforgiving mirror like that old comic strip character "Cathy", utter chaos was brewing in the adjoining stall. At first it was a dull murmur, mostly arguing and Leslie telling someone to quit doing something. Then it escalating into some intermittent shrieks from Cooper and loud protesting from Boston. Next came the out-and-out howling from Cooper, screaming from Macy, and frustrated yelling from Leslie and Boston, followed by slamming doors, pounding feet, and more pounding on MY door. I could make out a little bit of what it was about...Cooper had climbed out of the stroller and up onto a stool in the dressing room. For whatever reason, he decided to stand up on the stool. Boston most likely was pretending to knock over the stool and trying to scare him. Leslie was probably trying to get both of them to return to the "Sit. Stay." position. Cooper realized that he didn't really want to be standing up on a stool next to hurricane Boston in an enclosed space and at the same moment realized that he didn't know how to get back down. Macy started screaming because everyone else was or maybe because she felt ripped off that she didn't get to be out of the stroller, too. Leslie tried to get Cooper down, but when she came close, he concluded that she would only knock him off or drop him, so he screamed even louder and tried to push her away. Boston escaped and ran willy-nilly through the store. Leslie followed at his heels, yelling and trying to catch him as soon as she pounded on my door and told me that Cooper was stuck on a stool. I tried to holler some instructions while frantically pulling my many wonderful, covering-up layers of clothes back on.
I rescued Cooper, chased down children, administered approximately one spankin', apologized to the store's clerk, bought an extremely ugly zuit suit for triple what it should have cost, and drove like a mad hornet (with the radio blaring over the still-screaming children) to swimming lessons, where we were still 10 minutes late.
As I came to my senses a few hours later, I realized that I shouldn't have given up that easily and that anyone who has to subject herself to humiliation at the hands of the season and the fashion industry should be at least able to blow the required amount of money on a swimming suit that she can at least feel relaxed in. I arranged to drop of the munchkins at Mark's office at the end of the day. We swapped cars. He took the kids to the happiest place on earth (outside of California, that means McDonald's) and I took myself and my credit card to the nearest department store. For the next two hours. I even picked myself up some takeout from Zupas on my triumphant way home. I couldn't help it; it was right next to the shop where I returned the original suit.
And yesterday, while I was joyfully splashing in the lazy river with my baby, another mom wearing from the crowded banks of shade umbrellas came up to me to timidly inquire where I got my suit. She really liked it.