July 27, 2006
Pool Side Thoughts
“This is Vaaaa-caa-SHUN” I said, pronouncing each syllable with exaggerated frustration and making the SHUN sound like I was swinging a samurai sword for effect. I just couldn’t understand this family of mine. They spend almost 10 months out of the year wishing, hoping and whining about wanting and needing to get away and when they finally do, all they want to do is spend half of their time in bed sleeping late or watching a movie that’s been repeated over and over again on the Lifetime Channel Network at home. Well, I thought, this bright and sunny morning, they could stay in bed and linger until housekeeping came around, but not me. I refused to waste precious time sitting in a room. Vacation is a luxury, didn’t they get it? We paid all this money so they could sleep late when we could have done that at home for free? I don’t think so. I decided to bask in the sunshine by the pool, enjoying one of the many books I had lined up for my summer reading. And for the first time in years, not feeling insecure about my size. I’m not Gestapo about our vacation time in that I insist we must do something each and every single day. I plan it so we can have down time, time to relax, sit by the pool, no time constraints. But sleeping in bed until housekeeping came by to clean up the room was so not what vacation was all about. Besides wanting to see the sites on vacation, I always insist on pool time. I want to float in a pool, get some sun, so I can have something to show for my time away from home. I didn’t always enjoy wearing those mu mu bathing suits but even that did not keep me away from enjoying a good frolic by the pool. It’s cheaper than buying souvenirs.
I walked out of the room as they lingered in bed, trying not to lose my patience, grabbing my lotions, my beach bag and my trashy beach novel. I would soak up the sun and since I was feeling particularly annoyed with them, I thought about soaking it all up, leaving them with nothing when they decided to join me. I visualized the sun embracing my body, tinting it to the right touch of coco brown I lived for each year and just as they all got ready to lay out on the lounge chairs, the sun would disappear. It would serve them right.
There I was, all alone. No loud kids. No whiny babies, no one doing belly flops splashing the chlorine water all over my trashy novel. I laid out my towels and prepared my body for the worship the sun would give it. I put on my Mary Kate and Ashley sun glasses and lied back pretending that the swimming pool did not belong to the hotel I was staying in but instead was in my very own backyard. Well, it can happen ya know. Its vacation, any thing goes.
Then it happened… just when I thought it was safe to get into the water, Muscle Butt shows up. I must confess that the first name that came to mind another A word for the young girl but I didn’t think that would be appropriate language for this story. The thesaurus didn’t have another word for it besides donkey and this story isn’t about a donkey so Muscle Butt took over for the A girl.
She started out in shorts and a halter top. Her golden hair was braided in rows on top of her head ala Bo Derek and the rest was let out loosely hanging down to the top of her manly shoulders. Oh yes, did I tell you? She was half man, half woman. I could tell she was a woman in spite of the pimples on her chest. Her shoulders were broad. If she was playing football she wouldn’t need the pads. She had plenty of them on her shoulders. Trust me. Her veins were popping out all over the place and she wasn’t even flexing her muscles. She was a phlebotomist’s dream come true.
She lied down on the lounge chair and began to read a book. I had no idea what she was reading but it couldn’t have been much since it was as thick as a magazine only it had a hard cover. I know she wasn’t really serious about reading as each time my eyes would glance over her way through my Mary Kate and Ashley Sunglasses, she’d be looking all around her while holding the book. I think–I’m not sure, but I think she was holding the book upside down. That made me feel good… she may have looked nice but she was not too bright. A nice consolation prize for me.
I began to focus on my own trashy novel, doing some pretending of my own when I suddenly began to hear a bunch of voices all speaking at once. I looked up nonchalantly, pretending to turn the page that I was supposed to be engrossed in when I noticed muscle butt girl was now joined by muscle boy, boy-girl man, and someone else that looked suspicious of everything around them. Muscle boy had on these tight royal blue pants that were painted on from his waist down to his thick thighs and muscle toned legs with zippers on the side of the leg of the pants. Why, I asked myself, would any one want to have zippers on the side of their pants. They take them off from the waist down, so why the need for the zippers on the side of the legs? His top was practically painted on as well with some odd designs on the side of each chest muscle. I bet if he flexed those pecs those designs would dance. Did I mention the shirt had a zipper in the middle as well? Did this man have a zipper fetish? Not that I checked, but I’m sure there was no zipper where one had to be. I wondered if the zipper was for easier removal. Why bother with a zipper, I thought to myself, didn’t men like that just pound their chest, growl like Tarzan then rip their shirts off?
Boy-girl man was a character all his or her own. I wasn’t quite sure what he or she was. From the waist up, he-she had muscular arms with veins just like muscle butt girl had, and I think he-she had boobs but they were muscular in shape and didn’t bounce and he-she’s bottom part was something to be admired. He-she had a round derrière, that was covered quite nicely with what I thought was a cross between the bottom of a tankini and a bellini. Since I didn’t see the same amount of skin as I did see with muscle butt girl so I had to assume that he-she was a man. But I could be wrong. You know what they say about assuming.
Then there was suspicious person who was looking to and fro until they grew tired of standing. They were fully clothed which was odd because Los Angeles was suffering a heat wave. I’m sure this person was a woman. She had long stringy hair that covered her eyes on purpose. Her hair didn’t just fall over her eyes so that she could do the blond-hair- girl –head- swing- dance routine. This person was hunched over, looking from side to side as if she was waiting for something or someone to pop out of the bushes and attack her friends. That’s it! I thought she was using her hair as camouflage. She sat on the floor and rolled up her jeans. I checked – no hair on legs, cleanly shaven, so suspicious person had to be a girl, but then she removed the long sleeved top to expose an orange and yellow tank top and with arms raised there it was, enough hair to make a few braids under the pits. My imagination ran wild as the wind wafted towards me and I could smell day’s old freeto lays coming from those pits. I turned my head accepting my punishment for peeking through my big girl sunglasses. Please, I prayed to the sun goddess, please don’t let me wake up and find myself in hairy armpit hell.
They weren’t Americans because muscle butt girl began to laugh, with a man like bellow and she said something to muscle boy whose name was ErnestoNo. After hearing this name for about five minutes I realized when I looked up again, in my conspicuous way of course that ErnestoNo really meant, No, Ernesto. Apparently he was trying to do something to her with the hotel key, but since I’m not nosy, I didn’t get up to see. He-she was laughing as well and I heard ErnestoNo call her Francesca so the mystery was solved, he-she was a girl named Francesca. I didn’t know suspicious one’s name so I called her Inga, with the hairy armpits. She reminded me of a friend who refused to shave her armpits because it was so unnatural to do so. She felt that if God put hair there, it was meant to be there. I tried to explain that when one sweats, it lingers on the hairy armpits and well that’s just not something any one would like to smell but she shrugged it off and told me her aunts in Sweden didn’t shave and so that’s where “EEENGA with da harrry armpits,” was born. And now I was meeting her cousin, Inga 2.
They all began to chat quite loudly and I couldn’t understand too much of what they were saying because they went from Italian to English. All I knew was that they were discussing another soccer team that was staying at the same hotel and laughing at how manly the women all looked. I had to fight the temptation to not snicker as I was looking at two of these woman, butt girl and Francesca and if they had mustaches plastered on their upper lips, they too would pass as men.
It was pretty hard to get into my book when so much was going on in front of me. I was growing hot by the second but after seeing these bodies’, I refused to remove my bathing suit cover up. Not that I couldn’t hold my own with them but it just made me feel suddenly very self conscious of my own flabby abs and a few other cottage cheese like dimples that decorated my body. Now mind you, up until a year or so ago, I lived in bathing suit cover ups. Right before I’d get to the edge of the pool, I’d rip the top off and jump into the water. I didn’t want any one exposed to my fatness. Yea, yea.. Every one that was a friend said I was zaftig, a voluptuous hotty or pleasingly plump. Apparently they weren’t looking through my mirror or were blind. I was fat. And while I tried to adapt the attitude, if ya got it flaunt it, I had too much to flaunt and I wanted to do my part to keep America beautiful so I kept covered up. But since then I had lost some weight and was now proud of my size 12 body,so cover ups were mostly for my thunder thighs. I was fine from the top up but if you looked down, there they were; thunder thighs of cellulite rocking and rolling and not always in sync. No one deserves to see that. And if I got up to walk, I knew that’s all any one would see, so the cover ups would stay put until I was ready to hit the water.
I began to think about the many times I visualize my being healthy and thin. Not thin because I wanted to look good, although that was a great result of my plan but I wanted to weigh less than I had in years. My doctor once told me that I had to lose weight for myself, obviously my health but in the end it would be for myself, for the woman I used to be before I had put on all of the weight. I recalled how my young daughter at the time would come home and tell me, “Timmy M made fun of me today. He told me my mother was so fat, she sat on a rainbow and skittles popped out.” I knew they had teased her in school but between the steriods I had taken for an illness and the side effect it had, the weight piled on for years. I reached a maximum of 287 pounds. I was a size 26 and I won’t even mention the size of Ethel and Lucy, the two things that kept me a float in summers past. I had tried all the diets, all the exercises and every waking diet that was out there. But at the end of 3 months, I was still a fat mom whose daughters children made fun of her.
I tried to help her shrug them off without being mean to them. My believe was always say what you mean but don’t be mean saying it. But it was getting a bit out of hand. So I decided she should stand up to the bullies. I gave her some quirky responses…
“My mom is fat because she’s on medication, what’s your mom’s excuse?” That was mean of course, but so were there statements and I did not want to hear two wrong don’t make a right. I wanted her to stand up for herself and this was the best I could come up with at a time when I was feeling that being obese would never allow me to be the mother I wanted to be.
Throughout the years, I worked out with my daughter. I’d lose ten pounds but along came another medication and there came the weight with it. Now my daughter was soon to be a high school student and in an all girls school. Believe it or not, I prayed that there would be fat women like me in the school and the girls wouldn’t be as harsh to my daughter as they boys were.
And I was right! But I still needed and wanted to lose the weight.
Well, the powers that be made the choice for me. I had become ill and little by little the weight did come off until people I hadn’t seen in a long while would either pass me by or if I was close enough to them, I’d give them a hearty hello, until they would do a double take as if I had two heads. The most frequent comment I heard was: “Sonia, my gosh, you look like you lost another person.” And while that may have been a compliment it just reminded me that this person always thought, like so many others, that I was obese. I thought for sure, all the black clothing and Spanx, which by the way was not made for women who weight what I did, but I made it in there. I was a human walking sausage.
When my family doctor saw me after almost 8 months he passed right by me and asked his assistant to get him the right chart as he was seeing Mrs. Agron, not….. Then he looked into the room and said, “Wow! Is that really you?” But you see, I could take that from a doctor, not non-doctor people. The doctors understood, people just made judgements.
Once when I lied down on the floor, to take a break from cleaning my linen closet, my daughter sat next to me. My shirt was slightly lifted and my daughter looked upset. When I asked her what was wrong, she pointed to something that was bulging from my abdominal area. When I felt for it and checked the other side, I realized I was feeling my rib cage for the first time in years. I stood up and for the first time in a long time, I stood in front of a mirror and took a look at my body. I also found the collar bone that I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. I stood sideways… gone was the belly that looked like I had twins in it. I knew then I needed a new look and with that came a vacation, which we hadn’t had for a while… Only because a bathing suit was involved and I never wanted to embarrass my family. So it was always a mu mu bathing suit with an even bigger mu mu cover up. And now here I was, sitting by the pool, feeling rather proud of myself, until my thin and skinny foreign neighbors came to visit.
The heat was getting to me. The aqua blue water of the pool that was mine in my fantasy was calling out to me. But all these tight hard bodies were just a few feet away from me and I knew once I got up, they would stop talking and stare and while a part of me didn’t care, there was a part of me that did. That’s the part that wanted to do a cannon ball close enough to wet them all but I will admit that I couldn’t risk one of them jumping in and dunking my head in the water several times until I said I was sorry. So I sat and sweated. I may be a coward but I wasn’t stupid.
Then muscle butt girl decided it was time to remove her shorts and tank top. Why oh why did she have to do this? That meant she was staying, that meant I could not jump into the pool, that meant I would have to watch more of this, while sweating up a storm and I was just about ready to scream. I waited so long to feel and look and be healthy and fit into a non mu mu bathing suit and this happens?
The thing about being overweight or obese as was in my case was that people didn’t see you. You could very well be invisible because no body looks or cars for the fat ones. I didn’t want to be fat then, but I would have been happy to be invisible at that moment.
The muscle girl purposely stood up slowly because every one was slowing down their words. Aha! I thought to myself, she’s done this before. She’s putting on a show. Slowly the tank top came off. Yup, those pimples covered by a tiny bikini top were boobs. She could have worn Band-Aids. The small tiny round ones the senior citizen men wear on their faces when they shave. I deduced she was a weight lifter of some kind. Then off came the shorts. When she dropped them to the ground I wanted to kick her butt. No, that’s not why I called her muscle butt girl. Stay with me, I’ll get to that in a minute. Don’t you just hate it when someone who is nice and thin can unzip their pants and off they come flowing down ever so softly? Not my pants. Not only do I have to struggle to get them up and zippered, but at the end of the day they are so glued to my body, I have to peel them off. And this was with the weight loss. Muscle butt girls’ pants just slide right off. Would it be too catty of me to admit right now that I had closed my eyes and wished that she would trip while trying to step out of those things she called shorts? They weren’t even shorts. They were shorter than shorts. I think they were slings just to give her butt cheeks something to rest on. It must take a lot of energy to keep them upright and tight that way.
She bent over slightly as if she really needed to, so that she could step out of her pants. And that’s when I saw it; the thong, hence the name; muscle butt girl. Thongs, dead center, drawn on her muscled buttocks with such precision I dared myself to go up and see if it was really painted on or the real thing. What I really wanted to do was slap the cheeks to see if they were implants. Well okay, what I really wanted to do was lift the thin part of the thong and slap it back like a rubber band but that would have required me to get up and touch her…and ewww no! Were they real butt checks or implants? Only her surgeon would know; this was after all California. Her butt looked like the arms of those super duper weight lifters you see on Television. All muscle-no flab, not even a freaking wiggle. Nothing. It was just there. It didn’t even move when she laughed, giggled or walk. It was all muscle. I visualized kicking her muscled butt but then I also visualized my foot breaking because her butt was so hard and tight that…..well…. you can imagine. So I laid my fantasy to rest. She made a big production to slip her fingers through the tie ups that held the thong together just to show the world that -Oh look it’s loose. “Showoff!” I thought to myself as I rolled my eyeballs upwards.
Still pretending to read my trashy novel, I watched as she walked over to the showers, and splashed just the tiniest bit of water on her firm, muscular body, including her rear end. Oh come on now, I thought to myself as I saw the others drooling, it’s just an rear end. So what if it’s tight? So what if it looks like the perfect juicy peach? It’s just an ass. (Mind you, later on that day, when I went to the supermarket to pick up a few things, I swear the peaches all looked like tiny little asses. Muscle butt girl ruined peaches for me. I can’t a peach now without thinking I’m biting into a firm but.)
Eventually, they all slathered their bodies with sun tan lotion and pretended that they needed to get a little more sun on their already bronzed bodies except for suspicious woman who had left earlier. I wanted to escape myself but that would mean having to walk past them. I could wait until they all fell under the spell of the sun and make my exit or just sit there hoping they wouldn’t notice me at all. I was at the point where I wanted to either jump in that cool, clear blue water or just leave and take a shower, but I would not walk in my bathing suit in front of these people. I would not give them the pleasure of my volumptuosity.
I started reading my book but just couldn’t get into it. I began to think of how I looked years ago. While I certainly didn’t have a rock solid body like muscle butt girl did, I did have boobs bigger than pimples and I was told many times I had a nice body. Well, back then,I’m was almost 50 now, and logic tells me I can’t have a body like that, it’s her turn. And let’s face it, I don’t really want to spend half my day in a gym lifting weights with a man name Igor and starving myself. Exercise for me is walking to the nearest McDonalds, eating my Big Mac, and then walking back home. I figured I burned enough calories to justify that meal. I had no interest in looking like a muscular woman. And that’s when it hit me. She was strutting her stuff because she earned her right to do so; I knew if I had a body like that I’d probably do the same thing. I found comfort in that thought only because I realized that she was young today but tomorrow…one day… she would be my age…and she would look like me.Ahhhh justice!
I knew one day, she’d have at least 2 children and if God was merciful he’d give her five with stretch marks for each child and an equal amount of cellulite. Those pimples might be a bit larger, perhaps grapes but they’d sag like prunes looking down at her toes, like mine did. And she would be sitting just where I’d be sitting now hiding behind Mary Kate and Ashley sun glasses, with a plastic bag filled with magazines and a trashy beach novel. And that’s when I got up, took off my cover up, stood up very eloquently, and sprayed my almost 50 year old womanly body with sun tan lotion. I walked very slowly to the pool as she looked up. I turned to smile at her. Yes, I thought to myself, I’m big enough to smile at muscle butt girl. After all I used to be her, she would be me one day, and we had a bond. She said, “Buon Giorno” I responded with “Hola”. She watched as I walked slowly, step by step into the pool, letting the clear blue water soak my voluptuous body and let the sun embrace me. I wasn’t sure if the others were looking but I could tell she was. I looked into the water and saw the ripples that matched the freaking ripples of my cellulite thighs. Niiiiice.
She must have been wondering how I had the nerve to show my body and all I could think to myself was: “Check this out young thing; this will be you in a few years.” I smiled as I soaked a bit more and when I had enough, a moment of panic hit me. Now what? I just knew they were all looking at me. All the cellulite, all the wobble of the thunder thighs, all the woman hood that was mine was there for all to see. I wished that I had one of those expensive cover ups I had used so many years ago that promised to make you thin when I knew in reality the only thing it really made thin was my wallet but I would have given anything to have one of those cover ups now. But I remembered why I got into the water in the first place, and I remembered how I got the body that I had and I be damned if I was going to let some muscle butt girl make me feel ashamed of that.
I walked to the edge of the pool and attempted to lift one leg over the side of the pool so that I could climb out as the others had done. Yea right…. when I began to lift my leg, my thigh that had been a part of my body for almost 50 years began to betray me. I could almost hear it screaming at me, “Girl are you crazy? Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare climb out of this pool. You will walk to the stairs that were put there for you or I will give you the biggest cramp you’ve ever experienced since child birth and make you fall back into the pool.” I swear my thighs were screaming and I was no fool, I was listening. I knew if I so much as made another move, another attempt to climb over the top my thighs would see to it that I’d lose control and the rest of my body would follow as I landed head first, butt second into the water. I visualized sinking to the bottom of the pool until someone came out to get me and since it didn’t look like my husband or daughter were going to get there any time soon, I thought about walking over to the stairs, and rising very slowly and as quickly as I could so as not to make my thighs jiggle. As I got closer to the edge of the stairs, I prayed that my bathing suit bottom would not roll up my own flabby butt exposing my butt jiggle or that I would slip and fall exposing what little boobs I had left. So far, so good.
I walked over to my lounge chair, dried up and didn’t wear my cover up. I suddenly felt proud of the body I had hidden for so long. Yes, I’d like to look that young and strong again. Yes, I’d love to be able to wear a two piece bathing suit, but butt floss is not my thing. I’ve spent nearly my entire life pulling out wedgies, so why on earth would I pay to put one back in there? This is who I was and if the he-she’s and muscle butt girls of the world did not like it, so be it.
I laid back, put on my Mary Kate and Ashley sun glasses and let the sun soak up my wet skin. I peeked. Muscle butt girl was putting on her shorts and tank top and sitting back on her chair. Ahhh yes, the tables were turned. She had seen what a real woman looked like and had to hide her body. Well, of course she didn’t think that but it made me feel good to believe it. She grabbed her things and prepared to leave in defeat as she looked back at me one more time. Did I detect a little sadness in her eyes? Surely she did not wish to have a body like mine but maybe she realized that it wasn’t all about looks. Maybe she realized there was more to a body than just muscle butts and pimples on a chest. Maybe she went to her room to woof down a burger. Whatever it was, for me it was a moment to remember; a power moment. There’s more to me than what’s on the outside. I have no reason to hide it and never will
again.Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron
Word count 4088