The Swimming Party: Part Two
I blinked water out of my eyes. The kids were all coming toward the deep end! I dog paddled frantically, and stuck my head through my top, trying to stay above water while I pulled it back on. Both pieces felt gigantic. I got my arms and head back through, but the suit had stretched so much when it got wet, that the armholes and neckline sagged almost to my waist. I was barely holding onto the bottom half, but knew I could not keep everything together and stay afloat at the same time.
Joey, the cutest boy in my class was on the diving board, yelling down at me as I struggled in the water. I hoped I was splashing enough so he wouldn’t be able to tell what was happening.
“Hey Penny, get out of the way.” Good grief, I was glad he was blind without his glasses. What should I do? I was either going to drown holding on to my suit or have to swim away without it. How in the heck could I make it to the side and not be completely naked when I got there? Willa, finally realizing something was up, jumped in and swam over to me.
“My suit blew up in the water,” I was dog paddling like mad to stay up and camouflage my barenakedness with splashing. “It’s huge and falls off if I even move.”
“Wow. You’re kidding.” Willa sounded impressed.
“No, I’m not kidding,” I said through clenched teeth. “You gotta help me get to the side.” Willa grabbed a handful of soggy material at my waist and I held up another wad while we paddled awkwardly with our free arms across to the far edge of the pool. By now, everyone was lined up at the diving board waiting a turn to show off. I held on to the side and Willa stayed with me as we inched our way slowly to the shallow end, trying to look casual. When I finally got to the corner I was able to lean my back against it and adjust the suit, pulling it up to cover me. I pinned it tightly in place with my arms clenched to my sides. I was pooped.
“Do you want to just get out? I’ll leave with you if you want me too.” Willa volunteered.
“I can’t. If I even move one inch it will all fall off me. It weighs about 50 tons. I would never make it to the dressing room. I’m just going to have to stay here until everyone else gets out.”
It was the longest hour of my life. After a few minutes, Willa abandoned me and it looked like she was having so much fun. Once in a while someone would swim over and ask why I wasn’t playing games or diving. I would say casually, “I’m just resting” or “Maybe later.” When a ball was thrown my direction, I couldn’t even reach out to catch it and throw it back. I had to pretend like I didn’t see it, and act surprised when it bounced off my head.
When Jill’s mom finally announced that it was time to get out and go have hamburgers, I was so relieved tears came to my eyes. I was worn out from struggling to keep my suit up with my tightly clenched arms and from trying to look natural. Everyone finally cleared out and headed to the dressing room—including Willa. What in the heck was I supposed to do now? Was I going to be stuck in here forever while my best friend went off to the party? I was pretty mad when Willa finally showed up with my towel. Jill’s mom said “Hurry girls up girls, or we’ll all be waiting on you.” She sounded annoyed. Willa came to the side of the pool and, held my towel wide as she said back over her shoulder, “Penny gets really cold.”
I climbed up the steps, dragging my suit. I was freezing because I hadn’t been able to move around. I gratefully wrapped the towel tightly around me, holding everything in and up.
When I got to the dressing room I grabbed my pile of dry clothes and went into a toilet stall, locking it. I put my dry clothes on the closed toilet lid. When I unwrapped the towel, the hideous pink mess dropped, thudding to the floor like a dead seal. I must have been wearing five gallons of pool water. I dressed in a hurry and wrapped the suit in my towel, then carried my heavy load out to the waiting car.
When I got home from the party I stomped into the kitchen where Mom was peeling potatoes. She said, without turning around from the sink, “Oh, hi honey. How was the swimming party?”
When I didn’t answer she looked over her shoulder. I let my towel unroll and her horrible creation fell to the linoleum with a splat.
She bent and picked up both pieces. “What in the world?” Her voice trailed off as she felt the weighty blob that had once been my beautiful swimming suit.
“Oh, Penny. Oh no… I can’t believe… I should have tested this fabric in the water before… Oh my, this is certainly absorbent isn’t it?”
I began to wail and she took me into her arms. “Oh Honey, I am so sorry. You know, don’t you, that I certainly didn’t mean for this to happen. Did anyone notice? Tell me all about it.”
“I did a flip off the board and it exploded. It got gigantic Mom! I couldn’t even keep it on. Everyone in the whole world almost saw me bare-naked. I had to stay in the corner of the pool the whole time—I couldn’t move. After, we went to Jill’s house to have hamburgers, and everybody kept asking me what was wrong with me—why I didn’t swim. I had to pretend I had a stomachache and so I couldn’t even eat Jill’s birthday cake. It is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me. It is the worst day of my whole life.”
Mom led me to the couch and we sat down, I leaned into her, sobbing as she held me. “I guess I’ll give up on sewing swimsuits,” she said. She held me, rocking a little back and forth.
“Unless you make one for someone you really hate.”
“Oh Penny, you’re terrible.”
“You can give this one to Willa’s Aunt Alberta. It’s her size now.”
She laughed and I wiped my eyes on her apron.
“You know Penny, someday this will be a very funny memory. You really will look back on it and laugh.”
“Maybe in about a million years.” I sniffed. “Mom, you’ve got to promise to never tell anyone.”
“Of course I won’t, don’t worry about that. This is just between us girls. C’mon, let me get you something to eat. I bet you are completely starved. “How about some peanut butter honey on toast?”
I was munching away when Verna walked through the room. Instead of avoiding my eyes like usual, she looked straight at me and I could tell she had been snooping and knew everything. I could also tell she was enjoying my humiliation.