I come from a long line of storytellers. We love to regale our listeners with a good tale that is ripe with humor and irony. If that humor is self-deprecating, it’s even better. My Grandpa Pearlie could tell a tale that would have you laughing and crying and begging for more. We’d throw him a little bait: “Grandpa, remember that time you took a walk with Harry Truman…” and he’d be off like a long-distance runner, spinning a yarn that you were pretty sure was true.
Pearlie’s storytelling talents are alive and well in his great-grandchildren. My niece, Kari, told us a story just recently that was very Pearlie-esque. Okay, maybe not the subject matter (bathing suits – I don’t think Grandpa owned one!), but the delivery was spot-on. Kari gave me permission to re-tell the tale here, without changing any names. That’s a true Herndon storyteller hallmark, if ever I’ve seen one. I’ll try to do her justice.
Our second question would be: How in the world did she get in to it? Who amongst us can wear a swimsuit he or she wore 16 years ago? Anyone? I didn’t think so. But that just shows you Kari’s fitness. Mitzi said Kari’s words were something like, “Hey! I found an old one-piece from when I was a life-guard in high school! It still fits so I think I’ll wear it!” You men may not understand the gravity of that statement but any woman reading this would do the exact same thing if she could. It’s just a matter of principle to a female. And a matter of gravity, come to think of it.
Kari did notice that the seat was a little saggy and the fabric felt “a little tacky, somehow sticky and strange” but that didn’t stop her. They had two little boys to take swimming and away they went without hesitation.
When the boys got into the pool, the lifeguards told Mitzi and Kari that they had to have adults with them in the water. “No problem,” thought our fearless Kari, and in she jumped.
Apparently, Lycra/Spandex does not age well. As soon as she hit the water, Kari began to feel a strange tugging and pulling. The elasticity of the suit was somehow dissolving in the chlorine-laden water. It was pulling tighter and tighter across the front and the saggy seat was now filling with water and floating behind her. She looked at her sister: “Mitzi, what’s wrong with this suit?”
I think Mitzi’s eyes must have told the story. Because Mitzi’s mouth couldn’t. Her upper respiratory system was too busy convulsing with laughter. (In fact, as they told us this story on Mother’s Day, fresh tears were pouring out of our eyes, and air was gasped as Kari told the tale with Mitzi chiming in with details.)
That day in the pool, when she finally stopped laughing/crying, Mitzi gasped, “It looks like body paint!” The fabric continued to pull tighter and tighter in the ship’s bow while billowing up in a red train at the stern. Kari decided the best place for her to stay was underwater in the deep end. She hovered neck deep while the boys and Mitzi played nearby. “Aunt Kari,” the boys would call, “come play with us over here in the shallow part!”
“No thanks, boys. I’ll just stay over here for now. I’m having fun, aren’t you?” Who wouldn’t think it was fun being a part of a really warped science experiment?
When it came time to leave, Kari wasn’t willing to merely climb out of the pool. She was a little worried about what might be revealed and who would be reveling in it. The girls decided the best solution was a towel. Between giggling fits, Mitzi extended a beach towel arms’ width at the top of the pool ladder. Kari quickly climbed out and wrapped the towel around all the important parts.
So far, she has received no letters of complaint from the Y and she’s still teaching Selah. We’re praying no children were traumatized by the sight of a grown woman in a 16 year old swimsuit. I just hope everyone forgot their swim goggles that day…
Kari’s Herndon heritage took over. The swimsuit is now in the trash. And the story will be repeated for years to come.