Friday, August 12, 2005

To Spee-do or to Spee-don’t

At some point in quite a few Comedy Central routines, some guy (it’s ALWAYS a guy) will make some (seemingly) knowing remark about how the ugliest thing they’ve ever seen was a guy in Speedos. Even Lewis Black, a with-it urban cosmopolitan kind –of guy, once quipped that there is no discernible reason for a man to be squeezed into a Speedo save for the possibility that he wanted to empathize with an Italian sausage. Personally, I’d always felt uncomfortable hearing these throwaway jokes as I’d always felt comfortable wearing Speedos, well at least in my callow unburdened skinny youth. What could be better for sun & water than a swim suit that fits in your pocket without a bulge? Fast to dry. Light in the water. Like a second skin when you swam, walked, or lay down. I had tried the derigeur jeans cut-offs or surfer trunks of my days. Chafing! And when they were wet, it felt I was lugging my week’s laundry around my waist. Coming out of the water after a few hours worth of Jersey body-surfing left me loaded down with buckets of sand in my pockets. Worst of all, these suits never dried out. I never understood this uniquely American outlook on swimwear. Speedos were assumed to be only meant for true swimmers plying their trade in early morning Olympic pool monotonously tortuous swims. This would have made sense to me if that same logic applied to athletic footwear. But, everywhere I looked there were mastadons in cross-trainers or vertically-challenged loungewear acts in basketball shoes. None of these folks went to a gym, unless there was popcorn being served or a game to be watched. Some personal self-awareness seemed to be in order. That, or a surer sense of one’s manliness.

This American view of things became quite apparent in my recent trip to the Land of Croats. Women of all ages lounged around topped or topless, no one standing around ogling or nervously sweating. Men of all ages and sizes parked themselves on the rocky beaches or just plain rocks, Speedoed to the minimum. Were weight problems unknown here? No, absolutely not. One did notice that the obesity levels moaned about in the States were definitely not evident here, but there were folks that were obviously enjoying their Frankopanska Torta. But all seemed comfortable in their nylon, maximizing their exposed body tissue exposure toward the Adriatic sun. Those folks blessed either with an incredible body metabolism or/and a rigorous workout routine made the wearing of the minimal a pleasant sight to behold. And most of these folks (who seemed to outnumber we of the walrus descendants), had that self-knighted touch of pride about their appearance. Who could fault them? They were part of the beauty that was the Croatian Riviera.

Me? Sadly, I’d become more Americanized than I had feared. I was sporting a Nautica swimsuit that had enough cloth to set sail a small boat. As Lowell George said, “There’s a Fat Man in the Bathtub and he’s got the Blues.” Next time around, it’ll be the gentlemanly dark blue Speedo for me….mit Schlagge.


I wish they'd come back with those Edwardian one-piece suits for men. Bathing Costumes I bleieve they were called. So much more dignified than anything else on the market.
They've got 'em! Well, at least I've seen someone (a guy - I'm guessing French Canadian, as this was in Ottawa, and the dude managed to look pretty cool) wearing said suit.

DV, your lament is well-spoken and well-received. I remember reading a magazine in the late 80s that was devoted to deriding "celebrities with bad taste". Included was a picture of Lach Walesa(!), enjoying a beer on the beach, in a crimson Speedo that offset his considerable tan. I can't remember the sniggering caption, but the effect the picture had for me was the opposite intended. I promptly went out and bought my first Speedo, figuring if someone of Walesa's stature could stride about with such poise and unconcern, I damn well could too!

Unfortunately, were I to don a Speedo today, my wife and daughters would flee the beach in all possible haste. I might just have to fly them to East Europe, for a little cross-cultural eye-opening...
Stephenesque: I know you jest, but even the thought of those woolen suits guaranteed to drown you as you swim is hideous indeed.
and WP, speaking of hideous, beach-fleeing is somewhere on the top of the list, especially when caused by oneself. However, a threat to the kids of your donning a Speedo can always be used if they seem to be getting out of line. Since a Sppedo is so small, carrying it in your trousers is always a possibility. As a parent, one must always be prepared. As far as your wife is concerned, donning a Speedo is an approved method of testing her true love for you. If nothing else, it serves its purpose in stopping any arguement you two may be having. Honestly, how can the woman go on taking you to task if you are there buck naked save for a sliver of nylon?
Last trip to Cancun, I laughed every afternoon at poolside. Beginning at one end of the pool and picking up tempo, an observant female sun-tanner would spy a svelte young man in a Speedo, and so the chant began: "speedo, speedo, speeDO, spEEDO, SPEEDO", and it made the gamut of the entire pool by the time Lancelot of the Waves completed his stroll.

Like your Croatian beach, Cancun is certainly not for the shy or inhibited, either.
Oh, goggles.

The first few times I glanced at the photo, I thought the fellow was wearing a bow tie. Kept expecting him to sport a tray and dishes.

As for bathing dress, I feel that it's my God-given right as an American to wear a raincoat and galoshes in the tub, and the hell with these foreign notions.
Pattie: You're scaring me..and any man out there with a spit of self-doubt. This Amazon chant of SPEE-do? Did it cause any young buck to be embarassed right out of his drawers?

Mr. Mouse, Bleak: Thanks for pointing the swimming goggles out. Should wear my glasses more often, I suppose, particularly when I'm driving at 70 mph. I, too, was sure it was a bow tie. Seemed more apropos for the pose than goggles.
heh the beach I went to in Croatia was clothing optional. The best part was taht there were very few young people at this beach. I was almost the youngest female in the village, which did not have a gelato place, or a coffee place. People instead hung out at one another's houses haveing coffee and snacks. It was on a very fair turns system. Anyway I did brng a bikini, a bright red one, the female equivalent of a speedo, and very far from my normal manner of dress! of course my fiance totally approved of the bikini, but he then proceded to try and talk me into not wearing anything. I told him 'look I burn real easy, better I cover some of me, so I can sit down for example, without pain.' Just about when he gave up, we heard a humvee in the village, and the humvee ten minutes later was on our beach, where we were the only other people!
It happened there was some sort of problem in Mostar, and the Americans had taken a wrong turn on their way there and woundx up on our beach. It was funny as Hell. The officer just said 'Back it up bill turn around, we'll get back on the road and figure it out from there' The driver had rather thick glasses and I doubt he knew his way around.
Katja from the Yakima Gulag Gazett
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