Opinion: Outside In

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Hidden Figures

By David Weinstein

“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” Henry David Thoreau

It’s summer, again, and I need new swim trunks. My current ones are from the prior century, which may sound old to you if you are a Millennial, but they are newer than most of my ties. I pull them up over my newly acquired girth and realize that the only thing I’ve really accomplished during the preceding year is to accumulate another ten pounds of fatty tissue. I suck in my gut and puff out my chest to counteract this sad fact. However, I fear I still bear less of a resemblance to David Hasselhoff than to the Michelin Man. I ask my wife how I look.

“You mean compared to other human beings?” she asks.

“Cut the jokes,” I say. “Please, just answer the question.”

“Okay, on a scale of 1 to 10, you look like a pregnant bonobo. Besides there’s a rip in those trunks.”

Despite general appearances to the contrary, I, like most men, do care about the way I look. Especially at an outdoor setting like the beach, and especially when in close proximity to members of the opposite sex. Otherwise, I, and other men, wouldn’t let our wives or girlfriends dress us. I resolve that this dilemma will require a trip to the clothing store. A prospect I dread as much as a trip to the proctologist.

I go to a retail center close to my house. I make the trip without my wife, which is usually a mistake. But it is convenient, and convenience and comfort are now two attributes I put great store in. The only place I can find to park is near an activewear store masquerading as a surf shop. I’m guessing this is because the markup on clothes is much greater than that on sports equipment. They sell swim trunks, so I try a few pair on. They are called board shorts, but the legs are so long they more resemble clown pants on me than swimming trunks.

I head down to another nearby store. This one has a South Seas theme, and the patrons are dressed as if they belong to nearby country clubs, or their yachts are parked close by, which are probably both true. The place is age-appropriate for me, but the clothes on the rack are the color of ice cream sherbet. And even though I allow my wife to dress me, I don’t think I’m at a point yet that I could wear clothes the color of my gel toothpaste. I ask the store attendant, or my personal shopping concierge as he prefers to be called, if he has anything in a darker color. He mutters something under his breath about “being better suited to an upholstery shop,” but he dutifully heads over to a rack he refers to as the “portly” section and brings back a pair of swim shorts that are jet black. I try them on, look in the mirror, and suddenly understand the angst that women go through when they are picking out swimwear.

I decide if I pair these with an extra-large, black, quick dry T-shirt, and strategically place myself behind an oversized beverage cooler, far enough away from those genetically blessed individuals playing beach volleyball, I should be okay.  So if you see a guy at Main Beach, who looks like he’s wearing one of those jumbo-sized contractor trash bags, come on over and say hello. And if you really want to endear yourself, you might remark, “Hey, it looks like you’ve lost a couple pounds recently!”

David is a frequent visitor to Laguna Beach. Be on the lookout for his next column which he will probably entitle “The Hunger Games.”

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