Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Boomer Too Timid
Hello. News reporters call this the silly season: very little news. As for me, according to my stats app, August is my month of fewest readers. So here's my filler:

Unpublished footnotes from the essay Sex and Surprise of May 2012:

Back on campus, wearing my new white “Officer Bob” button, I wondered: Should I, as a baby boomer, switch to my father’s long bathing trunks—I mean, um, youthful board shorts as the Gen Xers were doing? The shorts were super-horribly uncomfortable, by comparison to boomer swim suits, like walking with cold seaweed around your legs, but then again I was a timid soul, with a timid body.

At the same time, while not all the campus women of Generation X were feminists, ladies my own boomer age were revolutionaries. They had found that as part of their liberation, they had permission to be visual, like males are, and so they would, uh, have an extra liking for a guy in his regular swim briefs. Oops, that could be embarrassing. Oh well, at least my boomer peers wouldn’t have any extra liking for little old me. No, not as if I was trying to be sexy by wearing “a hat on top of a hat,” (The reason, I was told, for the pretty lady in the film Tron acting plain) since my dear body, thank God, was of only average attraction. Yes only average, and so I would be safe wearing briefs: Although, queerly enough, there don’t seem to be briefs by companies like Jansen, with thicker fabric, they all seem to be Speedos now.

And yet, on the other hand, if I did dress as a younger Gen Y, with youthful trunks—I mean shorts, then I might seem to be “mutton dressed as lamb...” a derisive phrase we used when seeing a lady with super-gorgeous legs who was wearing a mini-skirt, when she was already an ancient 25 years old, as in “already too old for the Miss Ireland pageant.” In her case, as Officer Bob would say, “beauty is wrong.”

Which bathing suit should I wear?

One day, after relaxing in the safe-to-flamboyant Drama Student lounge, and then enduring the culture shock of going over to the hearing-constant-put-downs big Recreation Student lounge, I wandered over to the swimming pool. More accurately, I stood in the hallway where the cinderblock wall was interrupted by a window. I was at the diving board end of the pool; I don’t suppose diving was a very big sport on our prairie campus.

I looked over the shoulders of a trio of the fairer sex who were looking in at four male divers: two in normal-style jockey shorts, possibly made by Speedo, and two in the new timid super-long boxer-short style. The latter two males were by far the most unskilled and timid divers of the four. The fair young ladies must have been enrolled in physical education, as they kept being so critical and laughing so much at the two timid young men. Well. I don’t mind being around losers, no, I don’t think being a loser is contagious… but I wasn’t about to join those two in wearing big board shorts, either.

These days, although no longer a student journalist, I still like to come across as being a timid writer nerd who is watching from the sidelines. But I can’t always pull it off. Recently a lady who works in aquatic therapy with me shared her happy thoughts: “I’ll be gone on holidays for three weeks. And then I’ll come back and see you in your Speedo!” Nope, not timid.

Sean Crawford
In the mid-west, amidst the bible belt,
August 2012
Footnote: I have a related essay, Symbolism and Men's Underwear archived March 2013

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