Joco Opinion

Sherry Kuehl —Water park experience adds a new layer of terror to shopping for a swimsuit

If you’re a woman over 40 and enjoy shopping for a swimsuit, then I doubt we could ever be friends.

Our life experiences and view of the world would be so vastly different I fear we would have little to nothing in common.

And if you think April is a little early to venture out into the swimsuit racks, then you’re probably a man. Most women know you’ve got to hit it early to find decent (i.e. a suit that has more fabric than a place mat) swimwear. If you wait till Memorial Day weekend — say hello to wearing two washcloths held together by staples masquerading as “accent pieces.”

Swimsuit shopping is so terrifying I wonder why a pharmaceutical company hasn’t concocted a three-day course of mood altering “Happy Swimsuit Shopping” pills to get women through the rough patch of seeing their mostly naked body on full display in the house of horrors that is the ladies dressing room.

As I general rule I go discount when shopping for swimsuits. No Nordstrom’s or Von Maur’s dressing rooms for me. Those stores have three-way mirrors and my mental health would be at risk if I were forced to get an up close and personal view of my ever-growing backside. (Yes, I know other people have to see it, but that’s their problem.) Oh sure, you can make excuses about the fluorescent lights making it worse than it really is, but you know common sense and science won’t support your hypothesis that the lights are adding 20 pounds.

This season of swimsuit shopping has an added degree of difficulty because of the Schlitterbahn Waterpark. I’m now going to have to find a swimsuit that covers me with a nod to modesty, utilizes some form of black magic to slenderize me BUT also has a top with the tensile strength of Kryptonite.

Curse you, Verruckt! That’s the water park’s new slide that is supposedly taller than Niagara Falls and exceeds speeds of 60 miles per hour. My daughter is a water slide junkie and all winter has talked and talked about spending the summer with me and the slide. Like together, in a raft, plunging to, if not our death, imminent swimsuit loss. You can’t tell me riding a raft down an incline that steep isn’t going to cause three out of five women to experience, at the very least, a significant wardrobe malfunction. It’s one thing for a little peek a boo at 20, but at my age it becomes a peek of eww followed by eternal shame.

Sadly, oh very sadly, I am familiar with that kind of shame.

August 2011, Denver, Colo. I was riding the Ripqurl, which is basically like being flushed down a mega toilet that looks like it was designed for the love child of a Sasquatch and an Argentinosaurus dinosaur.

My daughter and I took off fast and hit the toilet bowl portion of the ride screaming. We start circling the bowl and my daughter makes a rookie mistake. She thinks this is the end of the ride and abandons the tube while we’re still circling. Her slim, lithe body gracefully slides down the exit tube. I do not. The force of my daughter’s jumping off the tube causes me to be dumped out. Our tube is AWOL. I’m free floating, circling the bowl, topless! The force of the water jets has pushed down the top of my one-piece swimsuit. You don’t know humiliation till you’ve gone bare breasted at a packed waterpark. It took me till the end of the ride to get my suit yanked up. And then some people clapped. Jerks.

Now, I’ve got a case of PTSD about water park slides. Add in shopping for a swimsuit that meets all my criteria and I’m a hot mess.

You know what someone needs to do? Invent what is basically a swim skirt for your chest. Any mother knows the healing properties of a swim skirt. It’s a gift from the almighty that doesn’t look too terribly mommyish. It’s more sporty, like you’ve just played some tennis and don’t have time to change before you go do aqua yoga on your paddle board. The best thing is it covers your upper thighs and lower butt, allowing you to do nifty things like bend over without flashing the family of four in the pool chairs next to you. Sure, there are those waterproof T-shirts you can wear, but they’re hot and puff up in the water, making you look like you’re eight months pregnant with octuplets.

Oh well, until a better swimsuit design comes along, if you see a woman this summer riding the Verruckt in a full-length turtleneck swimsuit cover up, wave. It will be me.