I need a new swimsuit. Some people call them “swim trunks”, but to me a trunk is either the nose of an elephant or a wooden box in the attic that holds old clothes, maybe a few recipes, and a priceless Vermeer that’s been missing for centuries. It’s not really a suit either. I think the term “suit” really only describes the full body suits that Olympic swimmers wear. What I really need is a new pair of swim shorts–a pair of shorts with mesh underwear sewn in. I never really understood why they needed that mesh underwear until my wife and I were in Long Beach, California one December. I’d forgotten to pack my swim shorts to use in the hotel pool, so I walked up the street a few blocks to a big box store. I couldn’t find the swim shorts so I asked a woman who worked there where they were.
“Do you know what time of year it is?” she asked.
“Have you been outside lately?” I replied. And I had a point. It was seventy-five degrees outside. But I knew I couldn’t argue with marketing, so I bought a pair of running shorts. Fortunately I was alone in the hotel’s rooftop pool because I soon discovered that soaking wet running shorts leave very little to the imagination.
My current swim shorts fit me well enough, but the string that’s supposed to keep them from slipping down and causing indecent exposure keeps coming loose. Not only does this interrupt my rhythm but I’m always a little nervous standing in the shallow end retying it. I can just imagine some small child in the family area looking over and saying, “Mommy, why does that man have his hands in his pants?”
I love to swim. I’m no athlete but it doesn’t matter. When I angle my body downward in the deep end and swim dolphin-like, when I go so deep I can touch the bottom, all my problems are gone. And then I surface and take a breath, and for a moment the whole world is as clear as the air filling my lungs. Even better is when I swim in the ocean, skimming along the sandy bottom. Fish and sometimes stingrays dart ahead of me. Once in a while I even hear the clicks and whistles of real dolphins, and I feel connected to them.