With temperatures still soaring at mid-August highs, I feel this post is quite appropriate. When I first moved here to Cádiz, in the year 2001, I had the typical exchange-student-local-foreign-boy romance (sorry Cariño, pero lo tengo que contar). He was oh-so-Spanish, his mother ironed his underpants (not that I really know about this from personal first-person experience, but he told me…and I don’t think he would lie). This boy taught me Spanish, in all its bad-barrio versions, and showed me tenderly through so many painful processes of acquiring a new language and adapting to a new culture. He was too handsome, too romantic, and…well, he was a rock star. Really. Seriously.
So, let’s get to the point. Bathing suits in Spain. When this boy wasn’t too busy rocking out or teaching me Spanish, he had time to meet me one day at the beach, early on in our relationship. I had already been to the beach several times with my fellow exchange students from the University of Washington (think North Face polar fleeces, Asics running shoes as daily footwear, big techy backpacks, granola for snacks, pale skin and healthy, American values). During these previous visits to the amazingly beautiful beaches of Cádiz, my classmates and I had spent good amounts of time strengthening our abdominal muscles as we laughed pretty darn hard about Spanish men in black speedo-like bathing suits. We were not ready for this in our 20-year-old Pacific Northwest minds. We wore baggy garments (even the girls) and bathing suits were large and long for males. The small black underwear-like items were astonishing to us, along with the hair, skin and body type that became visible from lack of coverage.
Today I ran along these same beaches to my routine Tuesday Pilates class at 4 pm and I saw many a man sporting black speedos and I blinked not an eye at said sighting. It doesn’t frighten, surprise or catch me off guard anymore. 8 years is enough to get used to these kinds of foreign nuances. However, as I trotted along the wet sand, I did remember how truly, deeply and darkly frightened I was on that first beach encounter with my rock star Spanish boy…was he going to appear in a black speedo? and what would he look like in it? Would it be small and tight and shiny (albeit ironed, of course!)? Would it have some wild print on it? Leopard skin or the Spanish flag? What would I do? How would I react? How would my classmates react? Would I ever live this down? Would our budding relationship survive such a moment? Would I ever be attracted to him again if he did show up in such clothing? Rock stars, even if Spanish, cannot wear black speedos, right? I felt ridiculous and so shallow, but I was so, so, so scared. It was a make or break moment.
He showed up in trunks. We dated for another year.
I can’t help but include this skit of Will Ferrell from SNL…it’s USA day at the office! Everyone has to wear a small patriotic item! This is similar to what I was fearing…