Friday, November 24, 2006

Flashback Friday: Bikinis and Binoculars

My Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Jack were snowbirds when I was younger. They, like many others of their generation, spent the winter in Florida. They had a young man (in their language), who was a professional race car driver, drive their car down for them while they flew down. A few times we went to visit them in the sunny orange juice state. Once, when I was around 5 we flew down (highlights included seeing Lady and the Tramp and throwing up in the bus home from Disney Land or World I can never remember which), and then when I was around 7 we drove down in the mini-van (highlights included Busch Gardens and discovering that my mom was 29 years old and weighed 105 lbs; I figured out later this was a total lie because she was already 33 when she had me; on this trip we also met John Candy filming Summer Rental just down the beach from my grandparents' condo but I was more excited to meet the dog in the movie).

For March Break of grade nine, my parents decided to take me and a friend of my choosing down to Florida once more. I think it was after this trip that my grandparents decided they were too old to travel, and they pretty much settled in to hibernate through the winters in their London, Ontario apartment.

Anyways, the grade nine trip. My friend and I were in the giddy throes of discovering boys. I'd been asked out -- by an 18-year-old no less when I had only just turned 14 -- and she'd started going out with him after I turned him down (one time when we got in a fight I took great joy in making some nasty remark about my hand-me-downs). I remember I read Lace by Shirley Conran in the car on the way down, which was full of sex (I'd already read Riders, Rivals and Polo by Jilly Cooper, and I'd rejected the Jean M. Auel books because the sex scenes were too few and far between; also those descriptions of Jondolar's -- or whatever his name was -- prodigiousness were disturbing... I pictured something around 2 feet long). Other than that, I remember nothing of the car ride. Oh - we stopped at the Kentucky Horse Park I think. Or maybe that was on the way home.

Anyways, once in Florida, the first thing we needed to do was buy bathing suits. We went for the two piece variety, despite the fact that I was beginning to hate my body. I found one with a frilly skirt-like bit that I thought sufficiently covered my ass to wear it in public.

My grandparents always stayed in St. Petersburg, in a condo, and we soon made ourselves comfortable. My friend nearly had a fit when my grandma was making the king-sized bed in the main bedroom and exclaimed, "This is like making it on a football field!" Or so my friend heard and her mind went immediately to the gutter. I kept my mind firmly on the subject of making beds. It was my grandmother after all!

There was a boardwalk nearby with neat shops, and one was a fantastic cookie shop that we went to a lot. This fantastic cookie shop also had tons of young good-looking guys working behind the counter and my friend and I made fools of ourselves in awkward attempts at flirtation. My mom even sent us out of the store once because we were being so ridiculous.

One day we went to see a world-class horse show where Ian Millar, Captain Canada, was riding horses he hoped would replace his recently retired best horse ever, Big Ben. I spent most of the show, however, moonily following his son, Jonathon Millar, around hoping he would see me and be immediately struck by my beauty and declare his undying love then and there (a la Sugar Daddy a decade later). I didn't actually think he was good-looking but he was tall and he had good horses so I figured it would be a good match.

The weather wasn't great during the trip; it was mostly pretty cool and grey. One day, the sun came out and my friend and I decided to go for a swim in the building's pool, which was right on the beach and from which we could see the colder ocean.

As we frolicked in the pool in our new bikinis, I noticed a man standing on the beach with a pair of binoculars apparently trained in our direction. What a perv, I thought. It was possible that he was just checking out the real estate but somehow I didn't think so. I suddenly had a thought that my bikini top was not securely fastened. So I reached around behind me to fix the clasp. Sure enough, it was partly undone. But because I wasn't very familiar with the bikini and the clasp went in the opposite direction from my bras, I pushed it the wrong way.


The ends of the bikini top flew out of my hands and hung, useless, from my neck, fully exposing the girls. I shrieked and ran to hide behind a wall while I did it back up. When I emerged from hiding, the guy with the binoculars had gone, but I always worried that it looked like I deliberately undid my bikini for him. This experience remained my most embarrassing moment for a long time. Now I just think it's funny.


Penny said...

That is funny! And, I read how you met your man.. but, where is the proposal?

cinnamon gurl said...

Sorry, Penny, I haven't told that story yet... too embarrassing ;)

Mad Hatter said...

Everything about this post is funny. Oh the hours I spent as a teen hoping that cute guy X or Y would see me and notice my inner beauty. Oh hormones.

BTW, I've been to the Kentucky Horse Park and have hair from Secretariat and Riva Ridge still kicking about somewhere in an old jewelry box in the basement.

Beck said...

HAHAH! That's hilarious. Poor 14 year old you - you must have nearly died.

ewe are here said...

Ah, Florida. My mom's parents retired to Clearwater and we used to visit them when I was small. I remember Busch Gardens, because I think I met one of the 'mermaids' there, a friend of my grandmother's. I remember thinking that I was oh-so-cool to meet a mermaid. ;-) (I was, like, 4 years old.)

Ah, and the plight of the bikini tops. I started knotting the strings or adding strings and tying mine shut in lieu of the plastic hooks at some point because there was always at least one boy who would try to undo them. (In spite of the face that there really wasn't a whole lot to see!)

cinnamon gurl said...

Just realized I'm an idiot. It's a small detail but I feel compelled to correct it. Ian Millar was riding Big Ben at that horse show. I thought so but then I thought I better check when Big Ben was retired just to be sure. And somehow I got it into my head that I started high school in 1995 but that was the year I started university. I started high school in 1990. Duh!

Penny said...

Oh ~ I sooo want to hear the proposal story!