A Middle-Aged Woman Laughs (and Covers Her Eyes!) at the Beach
By:  Mary Fran Bontempo

Every summer I try to avoid the “What were they thinking?” column. That would be the column which expresses my bewilderment regarding the attire gracing the bodies people bring to the beach.

I assume that the bodies people bring to the beach are the same bodies they bring everywhere else they go. If switching bodies were an option, I’d have jumped on that bandwagon long ago, as would most other people I know. As it is, however, we’re all pretty much all stuck with what we’ve got, which only increases my bewilderment as I can’t imagine anyone wearing some of the things I’ve seen on the beach unless the wearers are under the impression that they’ve switched bodies with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Either that, or they don’t own mirrors.

Since it’s already August, I figured I might just get through a summer without having my eyeballs scarred by something so outrageous that I’d have to vent publicly. Despite the usual plethora of skimpy suits on not so skimpy bodies, I was doing pretty well, too, until last weekend, when I knew I could stay silent no longer.

Normally, the arena of bathing suit indiscretion is primarily the domain of the young. Young girls or twenty-something women wearing teeny, tiny swatches of material no larger than cocktail napkins, regardless of whether their figures are meant to be so displayed. But this time, grandma and grandpa got into the act. (Purely my monikers; I don’t know if they have grandchildren to embarrass.)

Grandpa was striding down the beach in a miniscule black Speedo. At least it resembled like a Speedo; I wasn’t about to look close enough to find a label. His pace brisk, he decided to drive home the point that he was a specimen by hoisting little dumbbells above his head as he walked. The reactions of other beachgoers to the sideshow ranged from puzzled snickering to wide-eyed horror. Sadly, grandpa was no Jack LaLanne, who, I might add, still cuts quite a figure in his 90’s, and knows that the rest of us don’t need to see it.

For her part, grandma was cavorting near the water with two friends. The friends didn’t inspire a second glance as they were appropriately attired. Grandma, on the other hand, was in a bikini. A tiger-striped bikini. Needless to say, due to her age, grandma’s parts were no longer where they were supposed to be and she had apparently enjoyed her fair share of the seashore’s culinary delights. In other words, a skimpy, tiger-striped bikini on a not so skimpy, well beyond middle-aged body. (By the way, grandma, you need new friends. Anyone woman who would let a girlfriend walk around like that is no friend of yours, believe me.)

I’m not trying to be cruel, but really, what were they thinking? There oughta be a law. In fact, I’ve a mind to propose one. I’d like to propose the formation of the Mirror Squad, a police contingent entrusted with the sole duty of forcing offenders to look into a mirror until they cry “Uncle” or the mirror cracks, whichever comes first. Oh, and they would also be cited for indecent exposure, which is a law and is far under-implemented, if you ask me.

I know, I know; it’s shallow of me to judge these folks on the basis of their looks, but its’ really not about that. It’s about the fact that our society has placed such a premium on youth and physical beauty that even those who are obviously way beyond the competition are willing to risk looking ridiculous to avoid being viewed as old.

Here’s the deal: No one, regardless of age, should walk around with all of their “business” hanging out. (My mother’s term, not mine.) But if you’ve passed the mid-century mark, the only thing you’re proving by your full disclosure is that you need a bigger mirror. So please, when you’re on the beach, act your age, or at least dress it. Leave the foolishness to the kids; they wear it far better.

Have you seen enough of “scary” at the beach? Tell us about it! Click “comments” below, in red, and share!