Bathing Suit Torture Part II: Call the Paramedics

photo by The Pie Shops Collection

photo by The Pie Shops Collection

My objective was to make my bathing suit shopping experience as painless as possible. The environment would be key. I needed a store that was calm with wide open aisles, soft music, helpful salespeople. Crawling under a disheveled clothing rack, searching for the elusive bottom to the perfect top, or wrenching it from the clutches of a woman who believed it was hers, would not work. Been there, done that.

So at 9:05am Monday morning I coaxed myself through the doors of Lord & Taylor.

There wasn’t a soul in the swimwear department. I glided around the circular racks like an adolescent guppy until I was sure I had seen all the offerings. It was so civilized. This kind of bathing suit shopping was a joy. I could do this! I let out a heavy sigh–breath I didn’t realize I was holding. I started to feel lighter, optimistic.

The perfect bottom was important. Not too Betty White, not too Kardashian. I found one pretty easily in a good shade of black. I felt around for the tag to see the size and saw instead the price, $98. I gulped. I rationalized, instantaneously, that although it was more than I wanted to spend it would be worth it if it fit well, looked good, and had me be back in the car with my ego intact. All that for $98?! It was beginning to sound like a bargain.

I glanced over at the matching top, took it off the rack and twirled it around to see the back. As I spun the hanger, a tag flew under my nose that read $198. How could that be? The price tag on the bottoms said… No way! Oh my gosh. I froze. They couldn’t be suggesting… No—

Yes, they wanted $98 for the bottom and $198 for the top. Assuming you’d need both, it would set you back $296. The last time I bought a bathing suit, you got the top with the bottom for one price. Gotta love the 90’s.

Before you could say “are you out of your freakin’ mind?” I was back in the car driving to the nearest Marshall’s, using the energy from my anger and hostility to fuel my focus. I gave myself a mini pep talk in the car. Don’t make this complicated, Eva. Just saddle up to the nearest cluttered, over-stuffed, disorganized rack and start grabbing.

But unlike Lord & Taylor, these bathing suits would be organized (a.k.a. disorganized) by size, not style. So what size was I? I really had no idea. I held up a 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. They all looked the same. I took all of them. A combination of two-pieces and one-pieces and one that looked like a two piece but was really a one piece. Something strange was happening, somewhere in the middle of this haphazard plucking, I got rather bold. I pulled patterns and colors, bathing suits with zippers and buckles, one that had more than two straps with an appendage that looked like a shawl. I was going for it. And it felt good. It was time to step into 2000, I mean 2014! Geez, where had the time gone?

I’d try size 14 first−start large and work my way smaller, no?

I climbed into the leg holes and proceeded to snake myself into the rest of it. It did not go swimmingly. It was unclear which open spaces were arm-holes and which was the head cavity. I twisted at the waist and looked in the mirror to see what was going on in back. There was nothing back there. The remainder of the bathing suit was connected to one hip. Maybe it was supposed to sweep across my middle and be held up by one shoulder strap? Who knew? These things don’t come with instructions. There were several stretchy synthetic appendages. I yanked at them to find the longest one into which I stuck my arm. However, it only went slightly past my elbow. I curled my shoulders toward each other and hunched over while twisting from my waist toward the left−and yanked again, getting it only slighter higher up my bicep. Something was wrong. The strap dug into my flesh. It was too short and obviously not in the proper place. There were still other pieces of fabric hanging from my hip. What to do with them? I had to move this strap—it was quickly turning the lower half of my arm a concerning shade of red. Pins and needles were creeping up my hand. Still, I was hunched over with braided limbs. Moving this strap down off of my arm would necessitate some form of contortion. I bent my knees, tipped my head toward my stomach and twisted my left shoulder across my chest, while tugging at the strap. Then something terrible happened.

Since I’ve never been in this position before, and more importantly, I’m pretty certain humans were never intended to be—I threw my back out. Snap. I was frozen except for the excruciating pain shooting up my back. It knocked the breath out of me. I was a twisted wire hanger with two unbound protuberances. The strap on my arm still cut deep into my skin, my lower back felt bludgeoned as if by a garden tool, I was for all intents and purposes naked, and now, fearfully immobile. A breathy “help!” was all I could manage. Anything more aggressive would have ruptured an organ. I heard someone walk by. “Hello! Help! You, please!” I cried through the dirty louver door—grey, greasy fingerprints along the edges. I nudged the door lever with my good elbow and the door popped open. The look on the woman’s face was alarming. Sometimes I still see that look and that woman in my nightmares. She turned away and shielded her eyes. She said something in an unfamiliar language. “Please help me get this off, please! I can’t move!” I begged. She made a move toward me and I yelled, “No, don’t touch me, get a scissor−you have to cut it!” Of course, this was all quite mortifying.

A moment later she returned with a group. I was now, officially, a side show. One of them had a scissor. The moment she snipped the strap on my arm, I felt the tears stream down my cheeks. The relief was extraordinary. One lady yelled for someone to grab a robe. Another suggested they call the paramedics. Her friend asked me if I wanted anything.

Yes. I just wanted a bathing suit that fit well, looked good, and had me back in the car with my ego intact.

Bathing Suit Torture. Part I

photo by genibee

photo by genibee

If there’s a downside to taking a trip to Barbados in April, for a week of repose on an idyllic beach, that thing would be the premature torture of bathing suit shopping.

Of course one could argue, why go bathing suit shopping? You’re going to a tiny island in the Caribbean, not the town pool. No one has seen last year’s bathing suit in Barbados. That was my rationale exactly until things took an ugly turn.

First of all, let me be clear, I have no problem wearing a vestige of the American cruise wear timeline, a garment three to five (possibly seven) years old. I’m a veritable human time capsule of swimwear’s good, bad and ugly. Which practically makes me a performance artist. Anyway, what’s the difference how old they are—as long as they fit—especially since they’re all black. In various leg cuts and strap configurations.

They each have very specific uses: the tasteful, slightly snazzy one for the pool, the one-piece goes to the water park (where it’s not uncommon on some rides, if one is wearing a two-piece, for the top to end up over your head and the bottom down around your knees−scaring young children−ok, everyone−within eyesight,) the swanky one I wear to our friends’ annual 4th of July party, the one that covers the most skin is worn with the in-laws, and the one that reveals the most skin is waiting for St. Barts (new with tags)(and by “new” I mean old).

In examining this summer-of-yore wardrobe, I noticed the tankini’s bottom had completely lost waistline elasticity. I pulled at it gently, but it didn’t pull back. Instead it kept expanding, while softly weeping. That terrible sound that an ancient, abused elastic makes when it’s had enough. A hushed whimper coming from your clothes is sad indeed. One that says, “I can’t take it anymore,” is the saddest of them all.

With a heavy heart I ceremoniously threw it into the trash knowing it must have taken months to find, a myriad of stores, umpteen try-ons.

It would have to be the one-piece to accompany me to the palm tree-bordered beaches of Barbados. It wasn’t my favorite but it would have to do. Until, that is, I noticed that by holding it up to the light of my bedroom window, I could see my neighbor walking her dog, through its threadbare seat. Good Lord. I closed my eyes and shook my head thinking how that must have appeared last summer at the pool.

All right. It was down to the 2-piece halter. Ugh. That one showed a little too much mid-section for my liking and was adorned with a gold thingy on each hip. I must have been desperate and delirious with exhaustion when I bought it. I hate metal trinkets on bathing suits. A third gold goo-goo was sewn at the cleavage. I’d need to try it on. Because of the flashy embellishments it was two summers ago that I wore it last. Better not leave anything to chance. Good news−bottom was fine. Bad news−the plastic hook that holds the straps together was snapped in half. Half a hook is not good. There was enough metal on that thing to send airport security into a frenzy, but the necessary element to hold the bathing suit together was made of plastic.

There were others in the drawer but I was too humiliated to look at them. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I glimpsed a bikini. In turquoise? That was a long time ago, I reminisced, while unconsciously sucking in my stomach. Why had I kept it all these years? Like I’m really going to lose the ten (seventeen) pounds it would take to wear it? That thing is older than my daughter. The teenager. Do I really need to be taunted by the ghosts of summers past? I closed the drawer.

It would be unavoidable this year. I knew it was time.

What happens next is not for the faint of heart. If you have a weak heart, irregular heart rhythms, take heart meds, we should probably say goodbye here. Thank you for visiting. If not, and you think you can handle it, do come back for the rest of Bathing Suit Torture. Part II. Coming soon.

California Chrome’s Personal Stylist Comes Clean on the Nasal Strips

photo by Bill Brine

photo by Bill Brine

I shouldn’t tell you this, but as California Chrome’s personal stylist, my name is being dragged through the mud over this nasal strip fiasco, and I need to tell my story before People Magazine hears it elsewhere.

Full disclosure: C.C. is my first horse client. However, I’m no stranger to four-leggers with a discerning pedigree. I’m sure you’re aware of my work with the cat who did Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Broadway, and the donkey from Shrek (movies 1-4 plus the spin-offs), but a horse is a different animal altogether.

Let’s set the record straight. Do you really think I’d sanction that hideous nasal strip for a live, global, high-profile media event…maybe if I’m aspiring to be the new dishwasher at Ho Hum’s on Canal! C.C.’s handlers didn’t want to listen—but I had the only sensible solution.

Anyone with a thread of fashion sense knows that Ralph Lauren is all about horse hair footwear (Fall ‘15). I have a friend in the bootie department; she promised to hook me up with a swatch, ivory and chestnut. The swatch would easily adhere to the strip, creating a nasal patch toupee, if you will. A guy I know in the east village is a master at weaves. On the trickiest hair. He assured me he could weave the strip onto C.C.’s nose. Done. No visible lines. No questions. No NYRA approvals. But I never got the chance.

I’m sure you know by now that C.C. doesn’t have a breathing problem. His real problem is that he’s a scaredy cat, and it’s his reaction to being frightened that they want to keep under wraps. Unfortunately, there’s no telling what will make him jittery. A few of his triggers to date: Frank Sinatra songs (including covers), seaweed under hoof, women wearing coral lipstick or back tattoos, the smell of Fabuloso, anything on HBO. Horses usually let out a panicked neigh when they’re anxious or agitated, through their nose. C.C. can’t do this because of his deviated septum. Instead, he spurts a stuttering-lisp, like someone with a swollen tongue and rapid-fire hiccups might do. Replete with spittle. It’s utterly embarrassing. The only thing that reverses this are the nasal strips. Trust me; he simply cannot do national T.V. without the strips. But the white plastic patches?

I don’t get it. We spent a small fortune covering his unsightly varicose veins with Prada tube socks. The Zorro mask with embedded audio (thank you, Hammacher Schlemmer!) to play Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream—the only thing that keeps him calm—was an arm and a leg. And, let’s not forget about the saddle pad custom fabricated by Spanx! All this and then a snout accessory from Walgreens aisle 4.

Obviously, I had to cut ties with C.C.’s people. I wish them all the luck in the world, but I can’t be associated with an oversight of such proportions. My reputation is all I have. Let it be clear, I would not now, or ever in the future, do white vinyl on horse hair.

Well, unless it’s a lovely little Hermès number.

My Secret Hair Fantasy

photo by The Webhamster

photo by The Webhamster

I will let you in on a little secret. I sometimes fantasize that someday all human beings will be born bald. Okay, I know, a sizable percentage of humans are currently born bald. But I mean, stay bald. Like, never grow hair. An entire hairless human race. You might think a comment like that would come from someone living in eternal hair hell. Thankfully, I pretty much have okay hair. I have my fair share of bad hair days, but I also have a decent amount of good hair days to hang my hat on. And when those happen, I feel great.

That’s part of my problem with hair. Why do I need a good hair day to feel good about myself? That’s nuts. Hair? It’s an appendage for god sakes. My feet never make me feel any better or worse about myself. (Unless, of course, Lord and Taylor is having a huge shoe sale and my amply-sized feet won’t fit into any of them.) So why is hair so important? Of course there are all sorts of twists and turns of daily life which diminish or pad our happiness levels. Things we can control and things we can’t. So why let something as frivolous as hair impact our mood, our self-esteem, our confidence?

Apart from spending a fortune on hair – to curl or straighten it, dye it, perm it, style it, shine it, wax it, iron, extend, remove, highlight, process, tweeze, thread or weave it, etcetera, think of the hours spent on our hair. And sadly, most of the time after it’s “done,” we will likely say—we hate it.

Certain assumptions are made about people based on their hair. Don’t shake your head, you know it’s true. Sometimes these assumptions turn out to be not so wrong. But most of the time, it’s just another way we judge people.

Although at first glance this may seem like something of a girl problem, men are just as vulnerable in the hair department. Some guys have too much. Some guys have too little. When I was a teen, I knew a couple of guys whose egos took a beating from thick curly hair. In the 70’s there were few flattering options. Cut it short? Grow it long?

What about people who lose their hair after medical interventions? Do they really need to feel any additional hardships? Now they have to worry about how to deal with something as inconsequential as hair! Navigating the challenges of life is hard enough. I believe it would be much better for everyone to never have hair. Do we really need it? You live in Minnesota? Throw on a hat! You’re a Brooklyn Nets cheerleader? Work on choreography! You’re a hair stylist? Sorry.

Let’s admire people for reasons that matter. If we were all bald, it would be easier to look past the outside and regard people because they’re interesting, humorous, ambitious, inventive, kind, resourceful, dynamic, determined, talented, tenacious, inspiring, nurturing. Not because they have the perfect shiny bob.