By Ian Robinson
By Ian Robinson
It's that time of year again. The time of year when grown men have to clench their jaws to keep from weeping. When shrieks of horror are heard from bedrooms across the nation when we—male and female alike—jam ourselves into last year’s bathing suit and stand, in our glory, before the full-length mirror in our bedrooms.
Standing before the mirror, winter pale and winter fat, in last year’s bathing suit, is not a pretty sight. There are two kinds of people in this sad world. Those who are in beach shape and those who are not.
The key to discovering into which category you fit can be found in the simple test that follows.
Step One: Remove all your clothing.
Step Two: Oops! Go inside, you fool. Now hide in the basement and pretend not to hear the cops pounding on your door. Eventually, they’ll go away. A report of a naked man won’t see them break in.
Step Three: Stand before a mirror.
Step Four: Leap up and down furiously for 30 seconds. If you see more jiggle in that half-minute than is contained in an entire season of Baywatch, perhaps this ought to be the first warning sign that you are not in beach shape.
Step Five: Perform the pencil test. This one is for men only because women can purchase special lift-and-separate bathing suits to compensate for any problems in this area. You know where to put the pencil. Yes, you do. Don’t be shy. Now, if the pencil does not fall to the floor, it might be a good idea to wear a shirt all summer.
Now, if you fail these simple tests, all is not lost. A couple of options still remain to you. If you are single, you can stay home, drinking beer indoors the way the Good Lord intended. (If God wanted you to suntan, how come the sun causes skin cancer?)
However, if you are married and/or have children, chances are you’ll be forced to the beach at least once. This is a sacrifice on your part because you remember the days when you could walk down the beach and young women would look upon you admiringly—and even if they didn’t, that’s the way you remember it, right?—and if you heard the words, “Check out the breasts on that one,” you knew they weren’t talking about you. But now?
Uh-uh. They might well be talking about your middle-aged phsyique. Unfortunately, telling your beloved that you don’t want to go the beach because you’re not attractive to 18-year-old girls anymore is not going to go over real well with your wife. Women are funny that way.
So she will not regard this as a sacrifice on your part, so you get none of the reciprocity you might get, say, if you gave up going to the Jays game to stay home and paint your house. Nope. The beach is fun, your beloved will say. Therefore, it is no sacrifice. Therefore…you get no slack.
But what the hey. You have been married a while, you could tattoo that on your now flabby bicep. It’s the motto of every married guy: you get no slack. Or, in fancier terms, Nolo Slackus Totalus.
Once at the beach, of course, sunglasses—very, very dark sunglasses—will be absolutely necessary. Not to protect your eyes from glare, but to hide your eyes from your beloved, who will not appreciate the directions in which they’re rolling around like you’re having some sort of brain seizure.
You should also keep your face impassive because standing or sitting there with your tongue hanging out and panting as the beach lovelies promenade past will likely tip off your wife that you are acting like a pig. Further, you wind up with sand on your tongue.
Once at the beach, you will discover that you are surrounded by a few people like yourself, and large numbers of men and women who’ve spent the entire winter working out and working out hard. They are beautiful. These are the kind of people who can have a full-length mirror in their bedroom and look into it all the time.
Do not let this intimidate you. In the first place, anybody with that much leisure time to spend doing abdominal crunches is probably unemployed and a drain upon society. Or they don’t watch as much television as the rest of us do. Either way, you can feel morally superior. After all, it’s your duty to work and pay taxes. And it’s your duty to watch television. If people didn’t watch TV, get sucked into the dream world of the ads, and buy the products described in those ads, the entire economy would fall apart.
However, moral superiority doesn’t seem to count for much when your belly is hanging over the ridiculously tiny Speedo that sort of seemed to fit last summer. But relax. There are a couple of things you can do to compensate.
• Wear a garish silly hat. Something with plastic fruit on it is always good. This draws the eyes of others away from the belly and your very own guy hooters.
• Dig out the German Luger your granddad brought home from the war and stick it into the waistband of the Speedo. Anybody laughs at you, shoot ’em and take your chances with the jury.
• Enlist the aid of your children. Have them bury you in the sand with one arm free so you can reach the beer cooler.
The only thing you should not do is pretend to be as slim as you think you used to be, strutting up and down the beach with your gut sucked in. Your face will turn bright red and, let’s face it, you’ve gotta breathe sometime. And when you do, people will laugh when your chest drops two feet and turns into your belly.
However, the best solution may be this. Gather a group of all the other guys on the beach whose sagging physical fortunes are drooping over the waistband of their bathing suits, and pass the hat. Use the money to hire a pilot to seed the clouds above with silver iodide crystals. According to Bill Nye the Science Guy, this will make it rain. If it’s raining, you get to go home, put on a shirt, and sit in the coolness of your basement rec room, drinking beer and watching TV.
Next time the sun shines, get up real early and hit the links. Nobody ever asks you to take your shirt off at the golf course.