Once upon a time
By Marlene Ratledge Buchanan
I didn’t always look like this. My ta-tas were high and perky. I once had an inny for a waist. 38-26-34. If I had only known the power I could have had then.
I was a swimmer. Every day in the summers I swam at least one mile, usually three or even more. Mama was afraid of the water, but Daddy made sure I could swim and also fire a gun and kill someone with one blow. That’s another story for another day.
Misty Waters Country Club in Decatur was my summer home. For those of you who were fortunate enough to know Misty Waters and Pop Childs, you had a long lasting blessing in your life.
I started teaching swimming to the little ones when I was nine. I had completed all the junior and senior life saving courses, but was too young to receive the credentials.
I loved bathing suits and shopped all the final summer sales. You could buy a bathing suit for less than $4.00 at Davidson’s. Rich’s and Davidson’s department stores were another couple of pleasures that live on only in our memories.
Mama used to say “Time changes all things.” She was so right. I had a baby and went from high and perky to low and bouncy. My inny waist became a very full outie waist line.
I have lost a lot of weight as a result of a long running illness. I needed a bathing suit, I thought. First of all, all bathing suit shopping is traumatic after the age of 22. My favorite bathing suit was a turquoise and deep purple floral bikini. Strings and God’s blessing were all that held it up.
I was in my favorite hobby shop, Snellville’s Belk Women’s Department, when I saw it. There was a turquoise and dark purple floral bathing suit hanging on the rack. It called to me, taunting me with promises of long ago beauty and anti-gravitational pull.
I snatched that thing so fast the other woman didn’t have a chance to look at the price tag. I raced into the dressing room and began pulling off my clothes. In flash I was stepping into the swim suit and smiling that I had a winner.
I eventually got the dang thing pulled up and my ta-ta’s rolled into balls that could be stuffed into the cups. It would be Okay, because I was wearing a turquoise and dark purple one piece that was a little snug so it would embrace my curves—maybe create some inward curves.
I turned around to face the mirror. Fluff doesn’t go away. What you squeeze in, must come out somewhere. It escapes at the arm and leg holes. Varicose veins and turquoise and dark purple florals are too close in pattern and hue to be pretty. You go from a one piece bathing suit to a full length bunny suit because your body is the same color and floral pattern. Pitiful looking is just not a strong enough description.
THEN, I had to get out of the hideous bathing suit. I got the straps down and the quivering rolls of ta-tas went down, and down and down. When the right one hit the ground and bounced, reality came back. I was not 22. I did not have a toned, tantalizing body. I had fluff and flab. My double chin could have filled one of the bra cups in that well-loved bikini.
I went in that dressing room seeing myself as the slender girl of yesteryear. I came out short, fat, dumpy woman whose curves all round out, not in.
At least for a few short minutes there, I was lookin’ good. Shame I had to turn around and face the mirror.