Saturday, June 25, 2016

“Bathing Suit Season,” by Barb Bentham


Oh, joy! It was bathing suit season again. Natalie's favourite time of the year. She’d known it was coming – why hadn't she done anything about it sooner? Somehow it hadn't mattered all that much in the dead of winter.

Ah, she sighed, as visions of eclairs, donuts, hot-fudge sundaes and, the ultimate culprit, greasy fries, wove their insidious, aromatic ways across her senses. Natalie was the consummate yes-man ... yes to second helpings, yes to decadent thick and gooey icing, yes to mostly anything forbidden and sugary.

She'd pretended not to notice it at first, as her jeans started to get a little tighter and her favourite blouses began to shrink in strange places. Finally, there was no mistaking it – the muffin top was rearing its ugly head once again. Winter had a way of minimizing such indiscretions, with heavy coats and sweaters masking a lack of culinary self-control. Eventually though, her big-girl clothes had found their way out of the back of the closet.

“See you next year,” she mumbled to the smaller sizes being shoved in behind.

“What is the matter with me?” she fairly shrieked at her full length bedroom mirror. The mirror, of course, said nothing. Or everything. You don't love yourself, it stated flatly, and dismissed her like so much flabby fluff.

The countdown to cottage opening weekend raced ahead. Natalie was frantic – her sleek girlfriends, with toned abs and perfectly manicured fingernails, would be strutting along the beach once again, to her chubby, chastised chagrin. Why didn't they have this problem? Why was she the only sugar addict in her circle of friends? She imagined her large self tottering along in abject humiliation beside them.

Three weeks remained to lose at least ten pounds. In the last month, she had started and restarted her diet three times, with a cornucopia of sugary delights peppered lavishly between each halfhearted attempt. So far she had lost a grand total of 2.78 pounds.

Natalie sat down, wept a little, and opened up a Mr. Big, conveniently tucked behind a bed pillow. Unconscious nibbling quickly gave way to enthusiastic chomping, and reduced Mr. Big to Mr. Wrapper in no time.

She decided to go online and look at her favourite dating site. Zeroing in on active guys, she quickly located a man who had said he loved to hike. They had been in regular contact over the past while, and for some reason his assurances that the hike he proposed would be safe, placated her nervousness.

She looked forward to meeting him the next afternoon.

Jake, as it turned out, was a retired lawyer. He had lots of time to hike daily, and the financial wherewithal to travel for a good part of the year. But he was looking for someone with no pets. Not only did Natalie have her old and faithful dog, but two healthy and hairy felines as well. That didn’t sit well with Jake.

“We can just be hiking buddies, if you like,” she suggested. “When you find the woman of your dreams, I can fade into the background. In the meantime, would you be interested in hiking on a regular basis?”

“Sounds good,” he said, and so it began.

Natalie started to journal her food consumption each day, with an attempt to keep her indiscretions to a minimum. Due to her athleticism over the years, the hikes were not as onerous as she had feared. She was offered new and exciting vistas previously unknown to her, and all within easy driving distance from home. With the warmer weather and the rough terrain over which they traveled each time they were out, Natalie noticed that she was drinking a lot more water.

It turned out Jake, too, had waged a war on excess weight. Through careful consideration of what he was consuming and a conscious effort to avoid former well-loved foods, he had divested himself of over fifty pounds in the last couple of years. Certainly a great role model for Natalie.

And so it was, that with one day to go before cottage opening, Natalie was down a grand total of eleven pounds! She went to the grocery store and put eleven blocks of butter into the top of her grocery cart. Just to look at it ... and gloat.

The muffin top was now fighting for survival, barely clinging to her new and happily modified hips. The skinny jeans found their way out of the back of the closet and caressed all her curves nicely once again. And she had made a wonderful new friend in Jake.

What a great way to get to know someone, she thought. Not that it hadn't crossed her mind, but there was no pressure to hop into bed. He was a deep and complicated guy, with his own set of frailties to conquer, and with the sex part safely shelved, they had been able to learn wonderful and interesting things about one another. It was all good, as the saying went.

On her way home from their latest hike, Natalie slowed the car as she approached the Tim Horton's. The gooey goodness fairly seeped out the door and into her senses. Then she sped up – not this time, evil goodness! Instead, she pulled into a nearby mall, and found her way to the swimwear department in the Bay. Bathing suit season, at last!
     
Barb Bentham is a semi-retired elementary school teacher, who volunteers in a number of capacities within the Hamilton area. She is a doting grandmother to three wonderful, little girls.


See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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