You know how sometimes the oldest sibling in a family will get pregnant at 13 and then for the rest of the other children’s lives they are locked away in a tower wearing a chastity belt?
This is sort of like that, except with less pregnancy and more humiliation.
When my brother was a very little kid he drowned. Now you guys are probably saying “But Tracy, your brother is alive.” Yes he is, why don’t you let me finish my story.
My brother drowned. That is a true story. My mom, being the Viking Warrior Queen that we all know her to be, literally saved his life. She did CPR until he was breathing again. My mother is a bad ass and maternal like a f**king grizzly bear!!!
So as a result of this understandably traumatic event in my mother’s life, massive overcorrections became necessary.
Before I became terrified of sharks I loved to swim, as did my sister Lauren. But swimming was equivalent to juggling chainsaws to my mother…and so she solved that problem…sort of. Friends, I don’t know how she found this contraption, but my mother reached down deep into the bowels of hell and 80’s nightmares and pulled out this monstrosity:
No, go back and REALLY look at it. For those of you confused by the picture because you had normal childhood vacations without peril, what you are seeing here is a bathing suit with an inter-tube BUILT INTO THE FABRIC OF THE SUIT!!! Yes, sewn into this fabric of that garment is a tire!
It is the water equivalent of a chastity belt: it keeps all your goodies protected and also makes you untouchable. But what it lacked in style and subtlety it made up for in discomfort and shame. And it also doubled as a kidnapping repeller because what kind of deviant is going to want to abduct a child that looks like so much work? Well played, parents.
So my mother got to greatly reduce the number of daily beach-related heart attacks she suffered as Lauren and I waddled up and down the beach, pretending not to see the pointing and FAILED-whispering. (btw, this is why it is now so hard to phase me…that damn bathing suit was like boot camp for my self respect)
Now I would like you to look at the photo again.
Do you notice anything? Did you notice that I am not even IN THE F**KING WATER! That’s right parents, it also prevents your child from land drowning! Now come on, I know I look stupid but did this contraption really need to be worn for sand play? I think even I can outsmart that drowning on land. And yet there I am, in the sand unable to move because of the rubber tire around my stomach, alive and breathing because my mom took the proper precautions so I didn’t die. Thanks mom, land drowning is truly the silent killer so thank God you were vigilant!
Now the truly remarkable detail about these swimming monstrosities was that the inter-tube was in the middle…meaning it would keep you afloat…regardless of which end was up. That’s right, if a wave flips you over than that tube will keep your legs safely above water as your face takes on water. You engineering geniuses! This is why all the other kids got to wear water-wings and common sense while I was in the unshakable iron floatee.
The other truly great aspect of these life-suits was that gravity still worked on them. Do you know what happens when a child jumps into the water and the inter-tube floats, pulling the fabric of the suit in an upward direction? It’s called a wedgie. Yeah, my mom was the bully who gave me my first childhood wedgie. (added to list of things I should be talking to a therapist about). To properly illustrate this point I point you to Exhibit B:
Look to the far left. You can see a tube, with incapacitated arms and blond hair bobbing along. What you can’t see is below the water as the suit got all up in my lady garden. But what could I do about it? It’s not like I had the use of my arms, right? And so I bobbed along with my arms straight out like that kid from A Christmas Story, unable to even paddle.
Floating like a buoy in the pool hoping one of the playing kids would accidentally push me toward the edge so I could try to pull myself out of the water. I drifted like Tom Hanks in Castaway, except there was no volleyball to keep me company because Wilson thought I looked crazy as hell and he wanted no part of that nonsense.
Here you can see the child struggling to maintain some semblance of balance as she teeters on the edge unable to bend at the waist while the parent chooses to take a photo of the hilarity rather than helping said child get out of the pool. Moments later she fell backward into the water and drifted away. (also notice that my sister in the background has managed to talk her way out of her built in flotation device but Tracy is still not trusted in what looks to be 2 feet of water based on my sister STANDING!)
Poor sad little Tracy.
If you look closely you can actually see the beginning stages of me becoming a smart ass. You can actually SEE my delightfully jaded little personality forming. Wow I look truly pissed. I bet this trip was fun for my mom.
And that, friends, is the tale of how I survived the perils of ankle-deep ocean water to become the sparkling, snarky creature that you know and love. Thank you mother. I’d like to tell you all that this was just one trip, but that suit was with me for years and years, tainting so many multiple summers. It finally disappeared one year, I assume because somebody started regulating production and had to recall the death suits. Or I took a knife to it…I’ll never tell.
Well, Happy Beginning of summer to you all! Swim carefully!