September 17, 2011

Our family was not one that did the nightly bath ritual for kids. How could you with eight kids? Instead we had some combination of Saturday night baths, or a few-minute-morning shower snuck into the queue in one of the two bathrooms, and something my mom called (and I hated the term) spit baths. 

And during summer, the bathing pretty much dropped off completely except for the Saturday night bath. You could always claim that you’d showered at the pool after swimming, though we rarely did.

And we loved swimming! Living one block from a public swimming pool is I guess that’s how my mom stayed sane-ish with eight kids.

We were all on the swim team and practice began at 7 am. We’d come home for a bit, then go back for swim lessons around 10. Back home again, then be in line when the doors opened for public school at 1 pm. And when Dad came home, we’d beg him to come swimming with us.

“What? You haven’t been swimming today?”

Sometimes adult logic puzzled us so much, with questions like this we didn’t attempt to reply, but just repeated our pleas.

So, with swimming an all-day, everyday activity, we had the idea that we would just sleep in our swimsuits and that way we’d never have to take them off. We found ways to pee without removing our swimsuits, most of which you’ve already tried yourself. Other bodily functions took a few quick minutes in the bathroom at the swimming pool or home, where looking in the mirror wasn’t part of the routine.

It was a pretty cool plan, except for those few minutes when you’re about ready to fall asleep, but the swimsuit is so uncomfortable, you realize why pajamas and swimsuits have completely different designs. But we’d wait it out, and within minutes, fall asleep. Waking up in our swimsuits, we were ready to big another glorious summer day.

So, at the end of nearly a week of this routine, we finally took our swimsuits off as we prepared for our Saturday bathtime routine.

“What the heck?”

Our tans were our badges of honor. Comparing the whiteness of our natural tone to our leathering brown skim was a source of glee and accomplishment.

But this time, there was something special. My annual swimsuit was a speedo, of course, but this year’s model was a red, white and blue patriotic design. The white stars and the thin white stripes allowed the sun to make a two-tone tan only visible when my body was naked.

Then, I could see white stars glimmering in the way that the stars come out at dusk, when you can barely see them. The thin white lines set them off like the tail of a falling star.

As the summer progressed, the stars and stripes became slightly more visible every day, when my sister and I checked for them.

Then the pool closed and school began, and my normal tan hung on for a few weeks. But just like how the early morning light extinguishes the constellations, the stars and stripes vanished in a twinkling.

About the Author joangregerson

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