My real life and I are still busy reconnecting, so today, Gentle Readers, I have another delicious guest-posty treat! Rarely have I been so quickly and completely drawn into the universe of a blog as I have been by Pretty All True. Kris is by turns biting, tender, wildly funny, beautiful and tragic–often in the same post. In addition to all of that? She generously engages with her audience, both in her writing and in the comments. She is seriously gifted, people, and I’m honored to host her. Go check her out, and stay for the comments–sometimes they’re almost as good as the post itself. Almost.
Tankini Girl – By Kris
We are headed to the beach. We have not quite made it out the door, but we are headed to the beach. I am ready to go, my older daughter Maj is ready to go, but my younger daughter has yet to appear.
And then there is Kallan, descending the stairs slowly so that we can appreciate the glory of her new bathing suit.
Maj looks critically at her younger sister, “You look ridiculous. I hope you know that a two-piece bathing suit makes no sense at all. Unless you are planning on having a bathroom emergency at the lake.”
Kallan stops her twirling admiration of her new bathing suit, “What? What are you talking about?”
Eleven year old Maj picks up her towel and speaks tauntingly, “Is that why you wanted a separate swimsuit bottom? So you could get it off fast in case you are having a potty-problem?”
Kallan smoothes the front of her tankini top, pleased to note that it does not quite meet the bottom half of the suit, “No, what I wanted was a bikini, but someone wouldn’t let me get one.”
Kallan is nine, by the way, and despite the fact that her friends are all wearing bikinis? Some of them with padded tops? Kallan has a cruel and heartless mother who is ruining her life.
She’s trying to make the best of it, “I look cute, right? Mom? I look cute?”
“Yes, babe . . . you look fabulous.”
Maj snorts, “All I know is that I am going to be all reasonable and swimming in the lake, and you will be over in the shallow part worrying about whether you look cute. That’s a stupid waste of beach time, if you ask me.”
Kallan picks up her bag, slings it over her shoulder, “And all I know? Is that you will be all dorky and uncool and swimming while I am over in the shallows being all cute and fashionable.”
Maj looks at her sister, “Being cute and fashionable is not a life skill, Kallan.”
Kallan is all pitying, “Oh, it so is, Maj. It so is.”
The lake is just a five minute drive from our house, and we pick a shady spot. I pull out the large bottle of aerosol sunscreen. My girls are pale and freckly, like me, and I am a little bit of a crazy person with the sunscreen.
Maj goes first, and she stands spread-eagled as I spray every bit of exposed skin and then help her rub it in. She reminds me to do the backs of her ears. She leans forward so that I can spray a bit of sunscreen on the part in her hair.
Kallan watches with a sad resigned look. And then it is her turn.
“Ok, so I know that this stuff is supposed to keep me from getting sunburned. But is there any chance that all this sunscreen is also keeping me from getting a tan?”
“Yes, I suppose that’s possible. Likely, in fact.”
“But what if I want a tan? All the other girls have tans . . . you know, that outline of where your bathing suit ends?”
Maj interjects, “People with suntans are stupid, Kallan. It just means no one is paying enough attention to them. That no one is making sure they are protected. They are all going to get cancer and die.”
Kallan ignores her sister and turns a pleading face to me, “So I’m not going to get a tan?”
“Not much of one. Nope, not on my watch,” and I start spraying her legs.
Tankini girl is all sad and covered in sunscreen. I even spray the small stripe of pale skin that her tankini leaves exposed across her belly. She is aghast, “Really, Mom? Really?”
The girls walk together down to the water.
I watch them. Maj swims, ignoring all of the other children at the beach. Kallan lingers at the water’s edge and looks cute and fashionable, chatting with new best friends. She fingers her bathing suit, clearly accepting compliments and explaining how she would have a bikini, but someone who is named her mother is all unreasonable.
And several lovely hours go by. Is there nicer time to be spent than time at the beach doing nothing at all? I love how the heat melts the awareness of time; the day just passes, and there are no regrets at its having passed.
I love that sense of timelessness, of being outside of time.
Such a peace and tranquility to it.
And then I am snapped back into the moment by an urgent request from Kallan. She needs money! The concession stand is selling frozen lemonade for fifty cents!
“Can I have a dollar? I’ll buy two – one for me and one for Maj. Please? Please?”
Maj is running toward us with a determined look on her face, so I hand Kallan a dollar and say, “Take your sister with you to buy the drinks.”
But Maj does not stop to chat with us about lemonade. She goes racing past us at top speed. To the bathroom.
And then she is back.
And both girls sit with me and sip their icy lemonades.
Maj asks Kallan, “Aren’t you going to swim at all? All you are doing is just lying on your towel in the sun and talking to people.”
Kallan asks Maj, “Don’t you get tired of swimming? Don’t you want to come and talk to everybody?”
Neither girl gets a satisfactory answer from her sister.
Maj takes a sip of her drink, “I was right about one thing, though.”
Kallan turns, “What?”
Maj is sheepish, “A one-piece bathing suit? Is harder to get off in a bathroom emergency.”
And then they both giggle and roll on the blanket.
At the beach.