©2001 Bonnie Wren
I was sweating like the proverbial porker. Crammed into a tiny dressing room with a 75-watt bulb set on stun, I attempted to stuff my hams into a casing the locals call a wetsuit.
"It's supposed to fit tight," Witt called out from behind the door. "Like a second skin."
Second skin my chicharones. This baby was tighter than my first skin, twenty pounds ago. The truth is, wetsuits are nothing but full-body pantyhose on steroids.
I cracked open the dressing room door. "Where are my kids?"
"See for yourself!" Witt said proudly, indicating two neoprene-clad figures bouncing alongside the rash guards. Not only did the boys squeak into their wetsuits at Warp 8, they could move freely in them.
My wetsuit wasn't past my knees yet but I could already tell I wouldn't do much more than waddle once I got it on.
"Uh," I told Witt, "I need more time."
He understood. "No problem," he said. "Hey, boys, want some free stickers for your boards?"
I liked that guy. In fact, I was trying on his wetsuits because of his friendly and knowledgeable attitude. (Translation: he was the first surf shop salesman I met older than the used wetsuits he was selling.)
Ten minutes later I was slick with perspiration, but the wetsuit refused to budge past my hips. Defeat was imminent.
I cracked the door open again. "Witt, I'm just too big to boogie board."
You would've thought I uttered a foul heresy. "No," Witt said grimly. "I won't believe it. Mind if I take a look?"
I guess I didn't. The lower part of me was squished into the world's largest girdle. The upper was still modestly covered by my swimsuit. And Witt is a pretty decent guy, like a friendly big brother surfer, if you happen to have one.
I opened the door and he examined my semi-metamorphosed state: half-woman, half-wetsuit.
"Not bad!" he crowed. "You got farther than most first-timers."
"Really?" I felt better immediately.
"Sure! Now pull that flap up over your left knee."
I pulled. He pointed out another flap and I jerked on that one. I sweated, pulled and jerked with his step-by-step coaching until I wrenched into the arms.
Unfortunately, I was stuck in a crouched position, unable to straighten up.
"It's hopeless," I insisted.
"There's only one way to do this," he answered, and I knew what he meant. Swallowing my modesty, I grabbed the doorpost with both hands.
"Pardon me," said Witt, and grabbed the fold of neoprene hanging south of my derriere. He pulled hard--both my feet flew right off the floor.
My Great Aunt Lottie performed a similar maneuver to lace her customers into corsets. As they sucked in their breath, they could read the crewel sampler hanging on her wall: "What the Lord hath forgotten, we shall fill out with cotton."
In the case of my rear end, the Lord hath remembered too much.
I replanted my feet. "Ready!"
He jerked again and I was completely in the suit. Contrary to my expectations, I could move.
I made my way to the rash guards, where the boys stopped frolicking to look me over. All that rubber-coated activity, and they still looked as cool as cucumbers.
"Yeah! Mom!" said the oldest. My youngest took some time before he finally nodded. "Cool!"
High praise, coming from the Style Kings of Carlsbad.
"I'll take it!" I said.
That afternoon the three of us boogied in the surf, me blessing Witt with every wave I caught. If you can package your bacon for the beach, you can do anything.
(Chicharones, pronounced cheech-aronays, are the Mexican version of fried pork rinds, which you can find anywhere in San Diego County.)
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©2003 Bonnie Wren. All Rights Reserved