Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Bikini Equation

As I have mentioned before, Freeport is a pretty international place. This week, Coral Beach is more American than last week, but the diversity remains. This week I have confirmed (by actual conversations with the foreigners in question, mind you) the presence of a handful of Italians. The others are still a mystery to me, but don’t worry, I am still spying/eavesdropping/making-stuff-up. One group of Italians is from Milan. They are very nice and are here for 3 weeks. They come here because the Italian beaches are very crowded, and here it is not crowded at all. Fascinating.

With the title of this post, you can probably guess where this is headed: beach attire. Specifically, “bathing suits.” Bathing suit or even “bikini” is a liberal term for some of the adornments I have seen in the past 2 weeks; I would classify them more appropriately as lingerie. The Europeans love their thongs. And not just thongs – I’m talking flossy G-strings. I am attempting to keep this G-rated, but no joke, this is real stuff I’ve seen on real people walking and lounging by the pool and beach. The thongs are nothing though – quite tame. On one occasion earlier this week I was chatting with Italian Bird (I.B.) in the water (Thanks Charlie for the fabulous nickname!). We just talking about life out in the calm water, when she bobbed up out of the water a little. That day, she was wearing a red, string bikini. In the water, the bikini became completely see-through, and I swear to you, I began questioning whether her bikinis were actually bikinis or just lingerie. In the water that day, the two were synonymous. This must be the case in Italy, too. We continued chatting, and I pretended it was normal for me to be staring at a random woman’s parts-made-for-nursing mid-conversation. Also funny was the fact that a guy who happened to be from Virginia was also out in the water and we were all chatting when the peep show happened. I don’t think his wife was too happy. When I.B. left the water and walked back to her towel, I couldn’t help but stare – and yes, her bikini bottom was sheer also. FYI, I.B. also had the same “bikini” in white. The peep show for that one occurred poolside, but I will spare you the details.

It is hard to say what I find more appropriate: I.B.’s lingerie or the bikinis that I have seen some very old women, i.e., her mother. Tanned, flabby, and old. Not a good combo. There are so many women here who have passed their bikini primes that I have had to come up with an equation to determine bikini appropriateness. When it comes to wearing a bikini, there are 2 important factors to consider: age and body. Youth permits nearly anyone to wear a bikini, mostly regardless of body type. If you are young, have fun, wear a bikini. Easy. The second factor to consider is body. If you have a good body, wear a bikini. It’s that simple. So there is the age factor and the body factor. Either factor can give, so if you are old but fit, rock a bikini. And if you are young, but don’t have the best body, it doesn’t matter, you can still sport a bikini. The real problem occurs when both principles are violated, meaning, you are old and you do not have a good body, and you wear a bikini. True life story: Yesterday I spotted a woman by the pool. She was in her late 50s and was quite overweight, and yes, she was sporting a bikini. The advice I wished I could have given her was that if, while sitting, your fat rolls cover up your bikini bottom in its entirety, rendering you nude, then it would probably be better for everyone if you just wore a one piece. Don’t worry, I refrained from sharing this advice. I just wish she’d refrain in a few things too.

Another interesting topic is men in speedos. I now call them men in bikinis; if they are going to wear something so ridiculous, it should have a much more ridiculous name. So, bikini it is. At home, for some reason, it is always really fat, old men, and only really fat, old men who wear bikinis. I am not sure why. Here, all kinds of people wear them. Young, old, thin, fat. But all foreign. Yesterday Charlie and I saw a strange, strange happening. At first, it was not so much strange as just plain unsightly: there were two very fat, middle-aged men walking the beach in their bikinis. Actually, I think strutting is a better term. They strutted the beach and they swam for a little while, and then got out of the water and did all kinds of stretching and bending over on the beach showing off their unsightly bods even further. I wanted to look away but I just couldn’t, I was so mesmerized by the horror of it all. They walked the beach some more and returned a little while later. Then, out of nowhere, 2 regular men’s bathing suits appeared and they quickly put those on. Then, they promptly left the beach. Was it real? Was it all an act? I am not sure. I can be certain of only one thing: it was strange.

So here is what you need to know if you are coming to visit:

Ladies, follow the bikini equation within reason; and men, leave the bikinis for the ladies. And, if you speak Italian, forgo your swimsuit and just pack your lingerie. Yes, I will stare, but you will fit right in.

Vintage Italian poster image borrowed from


  1. Hahaha, I was dying laughing reading this! France is full of odd swimwear too, but come to think of it most lingerie shops also sell bathing suits. Maybe this explains part of the problem??? I will never understand the Europeans' fascination w/the speedo, truly mystifying!

  2. That is too funny that they really do sell lingerie and bathing suits together in France... that really DOES solve the mystery there!!! I am glad you concur about the bizarreness of the speeedo! Yikes!