Every year about this time, when the weather gets hot and sticky, and the thing I most want to do is go take a swim; I open the top drawer of my dresser, reach waaaaaaaaaay back and pull out the gaudiest bathing suit I have ever owned. You will note I say owned, not worn. I lovingly call it Tiger Boy for reasons that will soon become clear. I perform this ritual every summer. Then, unable to actually bring myself to wear it, I place Tiger Boy back in the drawer until the next year.
It all started about 25 years ago. I am what you might call a "substantial" woman, but I was more than twice as "substantial" back then. Buying clothing of any kind was the bane of my existence. I detested it. I made most of my own clothes, simply because I couldn't find anything to fit when I did drag my bulky form to a department store. But there are always occasions when something sewn at home just won't do. And it was one of those times.
So a friend and I made the dreaded trek to the mall and wandered into a store that had a large-women's department. I knew there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that I would find something to fit for the upcoming occasion, but I dragged things off the racks anyway and headed to the dressing room.
I'll never know what possessed me to stop and look at a bathing suit that was hanging on the return clothes rack next to the changing area. It wasn't all that bad looking, at least on the hanger. It was a bit gaudy; it was a very large size and, when I took it in my hands, it was incredibly stretchy. For reasons beyond my own understanding, I decided to try it on.
I went into the dressing room and dutifully donned one item after the next. As expected, I found nothing that looked decent for the occasion. After trying on the last blouse, I took the swimsuit off the hanger. It was a rather disgusting dark yellow color with a narrow black strip down the length of each side and was covered in black tiger strips. I stepped gently into the suit. I was amazed! It went up over the thunder thighs with no problem and gently stretched over my mountainous front and rear girth! It fit! I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic! I had not owned a real swimsuit in years!
Then I turned to look in the mirror.
I was staring at a 450-pound tiger atop two pasty white legs! The sheer absurdity of it struck me like a bolt of lightening. I began to roar with laughter.
My friend and the clerk were standing outside the dressing area. "Are you okay" they asked. But I couldn't reply. I was laughing too hard. And as I stood there laughing in front of that mirror, all those lovely tiger stripes began to jiggle up and down. Needless to say, I was literally screaming with laughter, tears streaming down my face. But the harder I laughed the more those pesky tiger stripes jiggled. I am sure you can see how this might be a problem; a vicious circle of laughing and jiggling had begun.
I can't say for certain how long the episode lasted. The clerk knocked at the dressing room door to make sure I was okay, but that just made me laugh all the harder. My friend kept asking what was wrong and got the same hysterical laughter in reply. I do, however, remember what brought the episode to an abrupt halt…
I laughed so hard, I wet the suit.
Barely able to breathe by this time, I changed my clothes. I took the price tags off the swimsuit and emerged from the dressing area with the balled-up suit clutched tightly in my hand.
"I'll take it," I said, handing the price tags to the clerk.
"Here," she said, "let me put that in a bag for you."
"I think I would prefer to do it myself," I replied as I snatched the plastic bag from her hand.
I have no idea if the clerk ever figured out why I was acting so strange, but my friend and I drove home in absolute hysterics. We’ve laughed about the incident for years.
Tiger Boy remains in the back of my drawer, a monument to that episode.
Laundered once, but NEVER worn.