Shortly after my discharge from hospital, I agreed to meet a couple of friends for a playdate with our kids at the local swimming pool, rue Denoyez. (Note to French speakers: sadly, no, the pool has not been named after the street.)
I will admit that standing nipple-high in lukewarm water in a kiddy pool for an hour (or longer if I can bear it) is not high on my list of “Fun Things to do on a Weekend”. Approximately once every five minutes I screw up my eyes – laser-surgery left me with not-quite-perfect vision – to reduce the haloes around the red numbers on the digital clock at the far end of the adult pool. The high-pitched shrieking of delighted children shreds my nerves.
But the parent-friends in question are very good company – litmus test: we have drunk alcohol together – and they have graduated beyond a listing as “Mother of A” or “Father of B” in my phone, which is a testament to that.
After being cooped up for so long, I craved normalcy. Even the kind that requires you to wear a compulsory swimming hat and leaves you with wrinkled fingertips.
A couple of hours from RDV time I suddenly realised that a month of trouser and pyjama wearing hadn’t exactly left me bikini-ready. One of my favourite songs at the moment contains the lyric “I wanna shave my legs for you.” There is no-one in my life just now for whom I need or want to shave my legs, particularly during the autumn or winter months. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to make that long, chilly walk from changing rooms to pool looking quite so unkempt, so I started rooting around in the bathroom cupboard for a disposable razor which was neither blunt nor rusty.
A text message arrived, enquiring whether I had any spare swimming hats. I began typing my response with one thumb. Sad but true: I can touch-type at 100 wpm on a computer keyboard, yet I text like a grandma.
I was about to hit send, when I realized my message could be construed as a threat to cause myself physical harm. And while the friend knew that no razors had been involved in my hospitalisation, my usually twisted sense of humour faltered for a moment and I couldn’t follow through. I wound up deleting all but the first sentence.
Next stop was the bag where I keep our swimming towels, my son’s goggles, those infernal swimming hats and our swimwear. I don’t own a sensible, one-piece swimsuit, as I’ve never crossed paths with one which didn’t seriously exaggerate my pear-shape. I usually opt for an old, blue, geometric-print bikini often worn on holiday.
It was not in the bag.
Then my brain treated me to a little flashback montage. Me, wearing my blue bikini while nonsense-texting from the bathtub. Me, recording a video, long-since deleted, because nobody ever needs to view it (including me). Me, answering the door to two firemen, who gently suggested I might want to wear some clothes and put a few essential items into a bag. Me, wearing my blue bikini under the paper gown in casualty.
I opted for alternative swimwear. I wasn’t quite blue bikini-ready yet.