Bathing suits lived in the center section, near the right-hand aisle. It’s Easter, and it’s bathing suit season. Maybe growing up in San Diego gave me a spoiled perspective on what “bathing suit season” really is, but in my world it started in early spring. With moderately religious parents who felt that church was too crowded on Easter, we celebrated the holiday appropriately: with gratitude and chocolate. We feasted on a fattening creamed eggs dish over toast and tore apart baskets full of green iridescent grass, jellybeans, and chocolate bunnies. And a bathing suit.
About a week before the sacred holiday of Jesus doing something godlike, my mom would truck me over to the neighborhood suburb Sports Authority and I’d get to pick out a swimsuit.
The automatic doors glide open and the scent of rubber and plastic is a welcome greeting. Squeaking from shoes on linoleum echo in the warehouse space. Adrenaline burned inside me as we entered. I knew I’d be walking out of this store a winner.
Usually it was a Speedo of some sort. I had to get something practical for a swim class or Junior Lifeguards. I would comb the racks for the cutest and most colorful options. In the fitting room, I tried each one to judge movement and cuteness, with my mom patiently waiting and providing feedback when solicited. I would proudly present my final selection to her. This is my New Swimsuit.
Sure, we’d browse the aisles for other fun “needs” like a new basketball for the hoop on the driveway, or a folding chair with built-in cup holders for camping. I always liked to spend a few minutes lounging on a hammock. I had to crawl into each tent on display to decide my top pick for a Friends Forever Clubhouse. We never bought one of those tents, but I’m confident that my research was valuable for the club as a whole.
After browsing the aisles and almost always deciding to purchase nothing else, my mom would take me to the counter and buy me my annual swimsuit. Now that I’m not ten years old, I realize how much money these swimsuits cost my parents. Why the fuck are bathing suits so expensive anyway?
Even in college, my mom sent me money for a bikini on Easter. But the tradition faded, as they all do. I got older and now I buy my own New Swimsuits, whenever I want. Mostly from little shops that smell like perfume.
But anytime I’ve been near a Sports Authority, which will soon no longer be possible, I’ve had that scent memory of my yearly New Swimsuit. The plastic or rubber or whatever that smell is. It also smells like soccer cleats and camping supplies and basketballs. But most of all it smells like bathing suits and generous parents.