You begin to hear the distant drumbeats in March, but by May the message is louder than a leaf blower on a Sunday morning. Put down the pecan pie, back away from the banana pudding. It’s swimsuit season!

Yes ladies, once again it’s time to adorn your pale, beached-whale body with tiny pieces of brightly-colored Lycra.

Swimsuit season is a yearly obsession. Women’s magazines and morning shows give it so much coverage you’d think the United States was a small tropical island populated by surfers and beach-volleyball enthusiasts.

And the advice is endless. Are you an eggplant? Wear a skirted suit with vertical stripes. An apple? Try a high-cut suit to show off your legs. A watermelon? Wear black and pray for rain.The whole idea is to create elaborate optical illusions so people will be fooled into thinking you’re a supermodel who subsists solely on carrot sticks and oxygen molecules.

When swimsuits fail to camouflage flaws, women begin to rely on other helpers, such as barricading themselves with a fortress of ice coolers or covering up trouble spots with the use of strategically placed beach balls.

The key is to stay in one place, underwater or lying on a lounge chair. If you get up and walk, you risk thigh jiggle, a wandering swimsuit or an unflattering rear view.

I wore a bikini in my 20s, a tankini in my 40s and, now in my 50s, I’m looking for a tent-kini. Does anyone know where Amish women buy their swimsuits?

To me a swimsuit is essentially waterproof underwear. I wouldn’t prance around the neighborhood in my skivvies, so why should I parade around strangers in next to nothing just because there’s a large body of water nearby?

Men have none of these worries. They don’t fret about being apples or eggplants. They assume they are brick houses and strut around the beach accordingly. To them, swimsuit season means ogling season. Time to get out the binoculars.

If it were up to men, it would always be swimsuit season. Winter would call for fur-lined suits. Women would conduct business meetings in pin-striped bikinis.

Last week I finally found the courage to step inside a swimsuit department and gaze at the racks of stamp-size suit options.

When the saleswoman asked me what kind of support I was looking for, I said, “Steel girders.”

I chose a few suits to try on, but as soon as I entered the dressing room, I heard the music from Psycho’sshower scene in my head and fled. I’m not remotely sane or thin enough to endure another swimsuit season.

 “Where do you want to go for summer vacation?” my husband asked recently.

“Antarctica,” I said.

Next year, I’ll be ready for swimsuit season.
I’ll start Crossfit in December. I’ll go on the cabbage soup diet. But this year, if you see me at the beach, I’ll be garbed in head-to-toe flannel, camped out behind a sand dune.
 

Karin Gillespie thinks swimsuit season is all wet. Visit her at Karingillespie.net

This article appears in the May 2015 issue of Augusta Magazine.