I’ve already made peace with the extra 10 pounds I possess and the fact that they afford me the ability to eat cake, so the proliferation of moms with thigh gap on the pool deck is totally not affecting my self-esteem, I swear.
Normally the kids and I have the pool to ourselves, so I really have no freaking clue where they all came from, but like I said, it’s totally not bothering me at all. I’m not comparing my cellulite to my neighbors’ firm, brown thighs, and I’m not even going to mention their perfectly round boobs (seriously, are those for real?), every set of them precariously supported by strapless bikini tops.
I can’t help wondering: Do their kids really never pull down their bikini tops? If I wore a strapless top like that, the chances of one of my kids absentmindedly yanking it off would be one hundred percent. But I’m not going to speculate as to what type of black magic these women engage in to make those types of bathing suit choices possible, because I’m totally confident and done with trying to be perfect.
One of the thigh gap ladies squats down at the edge of the pool with a glob of sunblock on her fingertips and reaches for a little blonde boy. She balances on her toes in a position I doubt I could pull off. “Come here, Carter! Come’ere, honey. Come’ere. Carter. CARTER. COME. HERE. NOW. One…two… Don’t make me get to three, Carter!”
I kind of want to roll my eyes, but it would mean peeling my attention away from this perfectly toned mother and her wriggly young child, and I simply cannot do that. I stare in open fascination as little Carter finally shimmies close enough that his mother can smear the cream on his face. I’m in awe that she can accomplish this task without 1) falling in the pool or 2) flashing everybody. I thought people like this only existed in movies.
But no part of this scenario is causing me to doubt my newfound preference of tankinis over bikinis. I am at peace with myself. And besides, I’m too focused on the accomplishments of my 4-year-old, Mari, who is not only swimming like a dolphin, but has just learned to do somersaults in the water. I get my phone so I can take a video of her new trick to send to her daddy.
“Good job, Mari!” I tell her. “Now sit on the pool steps with the other kids while I put my phone back in the pool bag.”
I send a quick text to my husband with the video attached, and as I deposit my phone back into the bag, I see that Mari has migrated from the steps and is treading water, inches from the side. I’m not in the least bit worried, as she has become such a good swimmer, and plus I’m only about 5 feet from her. But then she says “help,” which I have instructed her to say if she gets in a jam.
I quickly survey the situation: There are children blocking my way of jumping in the pool. I would land on one of them if I tried to jump to Mari, not to mention I would look like a lunatic as she is still treading water and doesn’t actually seem to be in any distress. I decide to take the steps. I rush though, because, I mean, who wouldn’t? She said “help.” That’s what you do when your kid is in the water and says “help.” You freaking hurry your ass up.
And everything is going fine…until my foot hits the first step and flies out from underneath me the way a cartoon character’s does when he slips on a banana peel. My arms flail hopelessly and time slows down to the kind of unbearable crawl especially reserved for moments such as these. I’m sure I’m going to land on someone else’s child, but there’s no controlling it; no amount of twisting or flailing can salvage the situation. My tankini top is riding all the way up to my boobs and my bottoms have lodged in my butt crack. In the chaos, I manage to think, This is why I can’t wear strapless bikinis.
My shin scrapes agonizingly along the edge of one of the steps and I jam my toe on the concrete. But whatever pain I’m experiencing pales in comparison to the mortification I know is coming. I’m submerged now, but my legs are over my head and out of the water somehow, brazenly defying the laws of physics. I wonder if the thigh gap ladies can see my poorly groomed lady stubble.
I finally resurface after what feels like 46 years but was probably only about 2 seconds. I grab Mari’s arm as I discreetly tuck a wayward boob back into my bathing suit.
I sit on the steps with Mari on my lap, surveying her and my surrounding area as I gather my faculties, only now listening for the screaming of whichever child I surely pummeled to death in my glorious descent into to the pool to rescue my daughter who really needs to learn the goddamn definition of “help.” She is perfectly fine, staring at me all perplexed-like, as if to say, “Are you insane?”
And not one child is crying. In fact, the entire pool area has gone ominously quiet. I glance around and realize that everyone is either staring at me with their jaws on their laps or pretending to be totally engrossed in something fascinating that their kid is doing. Even the kids are like, “What the…?”
Finally, one of the thigh gap ladies — whose bathing suit top actually does have one strap — picks her jaw up off her lap and says, “Are you…are you OK?”
“Um…I think I’m bleeding somewhere…but…I’m fine?”
I pull my tankini top back down and dig my wedgie out of my butt as delicately as one can accomplish those tasks. For the next 30 minutes, I spend all my energy pretending that I have not just experienced one of the most mortifying moments of my life.
Yeah, sorry, there is no life lesson. I fell in the pool and my boob fell out in front of the thigh gap crew and it was humiliating and that’s it, The End. It was super-duper embarrassing, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be 95 years old, on my death bed, Mari hovering over me with tears welling in her eyes, and she’ll say, “Mom, is there anything you want to say before…well, you know.”
And with my last dying breath, I’ll say, “Only ask for help if you really need it, you little twit.”
Can’t be trusted.