Do These Pants Make Me Look Like a Man?

Did I ever tell you about the rather embarrassing bikini incident?  Well, pull up a chair my friend; it’s time to listen to your old pal Steph tattle on herself again.

Our apartment in Poland is by the beach. To be honest, I never knew Poland had beaches until I saw them with my own eyes. The one we live near also has a fabulous playground complete with pirate ship and bongos, so that rocks. The weather here is never too hot, so going to the beach is actually pleasant.

One thing I noticed right away though was that I was the only woman in a tankini. I am not exaggerating. Women of all sizes, shapes, and ages wear bikinis here. Some even just wear a bra as if they stumbled upon the beach and decided, the hell with it, I’m enjoying this because tomorrow it may be gone.

Yep, bikinis are for everyone!

I have never really worn a bikini. I think I’ve owned maybe two, but I’ve never liked them. I’ve also never loved one-pieces because I am way too long in the body for them to be comfortable. Tankinis are nice, but, if we’re being honest here, as I approach 40, I do not want to advertise my age even though every thing about my appearance screams, over 30 and possibly on the wrong side of 40. Also? My stomach has seen some things, man. Bad things. It looks like this:

That is not Photoshopped. My emergency abdominal surgery 2 summers ago resulted in a Salvidor Dali-shaped belly button and righteous scar. Please note extreme white color and stretch marks.

Just to give you a better view of the shape. A shape a pregnant woman would own nicely. Also? Belts do not help muffin-top.

Anyway….that was awkward….

Point of the story….I decided to go crazy and get Euro and buy a bikini. Whee! I even figured out a way to make it less revealing by using my cute little swim skirt, (Yep, I convinced myself THAT clothing item doesn’t scream out my age.) and I looked for a bikini top to start with. That was super fun because I do not know my bra size in centildecaliters or whatever crazy measuring system they have here.

At some point I stumbled across a shop that sells swim separates. The shop had no customers, which is a scenario I hate. I like to blend in. I do not like the Polish-speaking salesladies to ask me if I need help. (I do, in fact, need help, but they are vastly unqualified in the areas of my neuroses.) I was getting desperate though as time ticked by, and it got closer to the time the boys needed to be picked up at school, so I went into the shop where two young ladies (Yes, I’m almost 40; I cannot hide it any more.) idly leaned against the counter hating wrinkles and boring hair.

I was now flustered by time constraints, lack of coolness, and ignorance. I fumbled through some tops and then spotted some briefs that looked like they provided some decent butt coverage. This should have been a huge red flag. From what I understand, most women who buy bikinis do not want coverage. But, I was excited by the prospect of maybe finding a top and bottoms that might make me feel confident.

I grabbed my selected tops (No strings of any kind, just decent straps for goodness sakes.) and two sizes of black briefs and headed into the dressing room. The clerks were speechless at how I awesome I seemed to be at shopping. I was fast and decisive. I assured them I did not really need help. I assured them about three times before I just closed the curtain to shut them up.

I started with the bottoms. They sure were comfy. They were roomy. It’s possible I needed a different size though. They seemed to bunch in the middle and seemed to have too much room there. They weren’t really boy-cut like I was used to. Something was…..off….

Dear God. They were men’s swim briefs. Yep. Right off the GIANT rack of men’s items. You know, with more men’s items like underpants? Hmm, did not notice that.

Needless to say, my work there was done. I did not need to try on any of the tops as I would be exiting the premises in the next 30 seconds and would not have the time nor dignity for a purchase.

I gathered myself, grabbed the items I had chosen, and opened the curtain. I handed the mixed-gender items to the still speechless girls and held my head up high.

Then I ran from the area.

What will I spill next time? God only knows.

The Garage of Suffering

Did I ever tell you about the time I locked my kids in the car in the garage in the dark?

Picture it, Sicily….1927….(Golden Girls reference….What’s up 1987?)

No wait, it was Poland.  Last year.  It was Good Friday, and we were running late on our way to school.  Obviously.  When we got there, I rang the bell and waited for the buzzer to unlock the entry gate.  I didn’t see any kids in the window.  It was a fairly pretty day, chilly but sunny, but I did not hear anyone playing in the garden.  The boys looked for rocks as I grew tense.  I rang the bell again.  And again.

The boys said, “Mommy, maybe no one is here.”

“No, they have to be here.  It’s Friday.  You go to school on Fridays.”  And I have things to do, like not be in charge of you for just a little bit.

They weren’t there.

So, I decided to make the best of it because I am a great mom and was not at all sad to spend a pretty day with my sons instead of going to the mall.  I asked the boys if they wanted to go to the beach. They did! Huzzah!

First we had to go home and retrieve the gear.  The boys were still in diapers, and I was still a beach rookie, so I needed to gather a ton of it.  I had a brilliant idea to save time though; I would run upstairs and get the beach stuff and diapers and sunscreen and hats and maybe a blanket and some money oh! and some water.

The boys were keen on my plan and happily stayed in the car while I ran upstairs to complete my mission.  It was going to be just a minute.  And it was.  In ADD time.  So, maybe it was really like 10 minutes.  As I trotted back down the stairs I heard a noise.  Crying?  Weird, no other families with small kids live here.  The boys were fine when I left.

As I went further down the stairs, it became obvious that the sound was indeed crying.  And it was for real.  Someone was very sad and/or scared.  Oh shit!  It’s the boys.

As I got into the garage, the lights came on.  You know, the lights that are on a timer and only come on with motion?  Which the boys would not be making inside the car.  The car that had no lights on inside.  So, two sweet boys awaiting a lovely day at the beach with their benevolent mommy were sitting in the pitch black strapped into their car seats for an unknown amount of Stephanie time.

I cannot overstate the real and utter desperation and sadness on their faces.  They were terrified.  Tears were streaming down their red faces.  I felt worse than I did when I got annoyed that they didn’t have school that day.  That’s pretty bad.  I cried too actually.

Y’all, that lemon ice cream is good. Take-away-the-terror-of-the-dark good.

In the end, ice cream was eaten and broken hearts were mended. The playground at the beach was a land of yes.  Dangerous climbing structures for everyone!

And, no, they will never again agree to wait for me in the car in the garage.

Tune in next time to “Did I Ever Tell You?”, when I tell you about a mix-up at the swimsuit store.