Monday, March 22, 2010

Prized Possession

Do you have a collection of things, odd and perplexing to others, that are too near and dear to send to the rubbish bin? We all do, right? Like that card my friend MC made for me for my 18th birthday with Muppets and magazine cutouts? Or the diary keys for the journal I started on the first day of fourth grade? Or some scraps of fabric from the school play?

Or this bathing suit. Or the $84 bathing suit, as I refer to it.

When I was a little kid, we never paid full price for anything. My dad was always getting laid off by the union and my mom only worked intermittently, since they didn't have anyone to watch me and my brother. As kids, we never really knew we were half broke all of the time, so it wasn't like we were sad little urchins or anything. We just always shopped at bargain stores, chased sales and clipped coupons.

As I got older, though, I started to want Guess jeans and IOU sweat shirts and things that, in general, cost more per item than my mom would spend on a whole season's wardrobe. My mother is the queen of finding a deal, let me tell you. It's a skill I admire and hope to acquire one day. I got odd jobs, like cleaning my neighbor's house and waiting tables at fire hall Bingo, so that I could buy the random ridiculous things I wanted, but my mom always encouraged me to watch for sales so that I could stretch my money a little further.

By the time I was in 8th grade, I knew the deal as far as shopping went. But that year I also started getting a subscription to Seventeen Magazine. And featured in said publication were many, many expensive articles of clothing that I lusted after. I did my best to reconstruct certain outfits, but there were some things I just couldn't find at my most favorite store ever.

Bathing suits fell into that category.

That year, however, there was a confluence of events that led to my ownership of the above suit. I have always been a bit of an over-achiever. Good grades were expected, and I always delivered. But that year I went above and beyond, with glowing teacher reports to go along with my good grades. Plus, that same year I landed a part in a full length student film. Don't worry, you've never seen it. It was a period piece about the whiskey rebellion in which I played a lively lass who didn't want to adhere to society's expectations. And then there was some other thing that I did, but I can't remember what it was. (Mom, leave a comment reminding me.)

When the issue of Seventeen came to my door featuring swim suits, I was in heaven. I loved poring over the pictures, imagining myself in each with varying results. But when I saw this blue and white and red number, I knew I found IT. The perfect bathing suit. For my barely pubescent body, it had everything I wanted: padded cups and high cut sides.

But I knew that with an $84 price tag, IT would never be mine. My own mother didn't even own anything that had cost that much, as far as I knew. So I drank in the photo and then said goodbye.

Needless to say, I was floored when my mother suggested that we go to the mall and buy it. To this day, I can still recall the excitement I felt on the drive there. We found it in a department store, I tried it on, and it was perfect. I still didn't quite believe my mother was actually going to buy me the thing, so when she headed to the check-out I almost passed out.

I wore that swim suit lovingly at every occasion I could for as long as it held out. All summer between 8th and 9th grade, and every day for my swim class during my freshman year of high school. Unfortunately, the heavily chlorinated high school pool was so punishing that I knew it was time to retire IT.

But I never got rid of IT. I doubt I ever will.

Thanks, mom.

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Chrissie said...

Awesome story. Awesome Mom!!!!

Lin and Dan said...

I think this was the year I started college and I knew it would be toughest on you (even though you had thought earlier that it was awful that I never went to college) I also remember I loved you very, very much!

hipMomma said...

Wow, I can't believe you remember the story about a swimsuit so vividly! I don't think I would get rid of it either when it has so much to tell. Thanks for bringing back the memory of IOU and high cut swimsuits. Ah, the good ol' days.

Lora said...

I have a bathing suit story like this too. It was an OP (long before Walmart started selling them) and it was one of those ones that had the stomach cut out. I thought I was so cool. Mine cost $58. I thought I was the SHIZZZZ

Arizaphale said...

And now...a photo of you in said suit? Please?
Great story. I have boxes of garments from through 'my' ages in the cupboard. In the bathers department I kept a wild pair of
g string with butt frills...for many years. Before I finally threw them out I had the BA try them on so I could get a photo. Well, her butt cheeks are definitely better than MINE!!!!!:-)

SERGIO said...

como no entiendo ingles no entiendo casi nada.De quien es esa prenda