I’ve never felt so powerful in my life than I did when I wore my pink and black bikini.
My Mother bought it for me the summer after I turned 14 years old because she firmly believed that a little girl with a body like mine shouldn’t hide under a one piece. At first, I argued with her, demanding the right to wear my usual modest one piece/long T-shirt ensemble, but my reasoning soon fell on deaf ears. According to her, it was time for me to stop dressing like a baby. I was a woman and I should start presenting myself as such.
That summer, we spent a couple of weeks at a beach house with friends. All the kids my age either hung out at the community pool or spent the majority of the day in packs of 5 or more strolling the resort grounds and looking for kicks. At that point, my only companion was the daughter of my Mother’s friend. Her name was Lena and she was slightly overweight with braces and a bad haircut. However, I didn’t know anyone else and Lena had been to the pool before, so I figured she would be as good as anyone else to hang out with.
Lena’s cabin was closest to the pool, so we decided to change into our suits there. I slipped my bikini on while Lena stared at me with narrowed eyes. I wilted under her harsh gaze and covered my naked stomach area awkwardly with my arms.
“I think I’m going to wear a T-shirt over this,” I said meekly.
She snorted sarcastically, and replied, “Whatever. I’m not going to.”
Lena put on an orange and blue one piece that sported a ruffle along the bottom that hid the dimples in her thighs. Spitefully, I thought, It’s real easy to be confident when you’re all covered up.
The pool was packed when we got there. Droves of teenaged kids were lolling about towards the deep end feigning interest in games of Marco/polo to hide the fact that they were really just checking each other out. Lena wasted no time hopping into the fray. With a girlish shriek, she plunged into the cool water and came up gasping for air. I noticed she had forgotten to remove her make-up before we left and was oblivious to the fact that there was mascara running down her cheeks.
I sat down on the edge of the pool and let my feet kick idly in the water. I didn’t know any of the kids and I wanted to wait until Lena introduced me before I drew attention to myself.
Finally, Lena summoned me over to the group. I walked around the side of the pool, looking for a ladder in. Carefully, I stepped onto the first rung and began lowering myself down.
“Hey V!” Lena sneered, “You forgot to take off your T-shirt!”
I blushed angrily, because Lena knew damn well I had planned to wear my T-shirt the entire time. But what could I do at that point? Lena had called me out in front of an entire group potential friends and I didn’t want to look like a baby in front of everyone. So, I rolled my eyes, climbed back out of the pool, and straightened my back. Swearing to myself that my tentative friendship with Lena would end the very second I had made a new friend, I slipped out of my T-shirt.
Almost instantly, my skin began to crawl as if someone were watching me. I looked around and noticed I had caught the eye of a couple of boys. All of my faux confidence melted away under their steady gaze. Suddenly, I didn’t give a rat’s ass what Lena and her friends thought about my maturity. I was being weighed and measured by members of the opposite sex and all I wanted was to get the hell out of there before I came up painfully short.
A boy standing on the diving board less than 5 feet away whistled in my direction. He nodded his head appreciatively.
“Damn!” he said. Obviously, he meant it as a compliment.
My animosity for my pink and black bikini abruptly turned to pure, undiluted love as I realized the boys were not mentally criticizing me, but admiring me. Growing up, I had boys show romantic interest in me before, of course, but never before had I experienced it to this degree. Hell, the sheer volume alone of boys staring at me was enough to make me feel almost giddy with excitement.
Forsaking the ladder completely, I hopped into the pool utilizing my own, patented form of a girlish shriek. I swam over to Lena and her friends, almost smugly, no longer caring if I made friends or not. If they didn’t like me, I supposed I could always chat with the boy on the diving board. He was cute.
Lena’s friends were friendly, but distant. Introductions were made and gossip was exchanged. Lena and her friends pointed out various kids at the pool and told me who put out, who came from a poor family, and who possessed such horrible fashion sense that they were not worth befriending. Pretty quickly I learned the more I joined in with the mocking, the less aloof the girls were with me.
“What about the guys?” I asked, “Anyone interesting around?”
Hilary, a tall girl with a tight, brown braid that snaked halfway down her back waved her hand airily and answered, “There’s only one guy here even worth mentioning.”
The other girls giggled their agreement.
“Who?” I asked.
Hilary linked her arm with mine and carefully spun me around to face the lawn chairs.
Out of the corner of her mouth, she whispered, “Do you see the group of guys over there on those chairs?”
“Yeah,” I whispered casually.
“Do you see the one with the blue towel? He’s wearing red shorts?”
I immediately noticed the guy she was referring to. And I had to admit, he was very handsome. His chest and abs were extremely well defined in comparison to almost every other male at the pool. He also had a very strong jaw line and a playful mop of sandy blond hair that he kept casually brushing out of his eyes. Even from a distance, I could tell he had a cocky, almost fearless air about him. He strutted around the pool like he owned it.
I nodded vaguely to Hilary.
“His name is Rob,” she whispered. “He teaches tennis. I’ve been trying to get my Mom to sign me up for lessons at the clubhouse.”
The other girls sighed dreamily, “Me too…me too.”
I raised my eyebrows skeptically. “He looks like he’s a little…older.”
“He’s only 18, V.” Lena sneered.
That settled it for me. I had no interest in 18 year old boys. The way I saw it, I was only 14. If I was going to have a boyfriend, I wanted one closer to my own age. But I faked like I thought Rob was the cutest guy I’d ever laid eyes on merely because I didn’t want to argue with the girls who so obviously worshiped him.
“We should walk by him,” Hilary urged. “Give V a closer look.”
The other girls nodded vigorously and before I knew it, we were taking the long way around the pool towards the restrooms. We slowed down and swayed our hips seductively back and forth as we passed Rob and his group of friends.
“Hello ladies,” Rob smiled.
The girls tittered and waved. I shrugged my shoulders, making no attempt to disguise my boredom. After we finally made it to the restrooms, the girls stopped attempting to stifle their thrilled squeals.
“He talked to us! He talked to us!” they gleefully shouted as they hopped up and down.
I hung out with Lena and her friends for precisely three more days before realizing I would rather remain friendless and alone the entire summer than maintain their chosen daily routine. Their snobbish exclusion of every other girl at the pool irritated me. Also, I found their obsession with Rob incredibly childish, if not ridiculous. I didn’t know who they thought they were kidding, following him around like love-struck little puppies, but they were making their devotion to him embarrassingly obvious. But most of all, my Mother’s quick acceptance of them as suitable friends for me turned me off to them completely.
At the end of day 3 of my alliance with the Bitch Brigade, my Mother decided to visit us all at the pool.
“Now who is this boy you girls keep telling me about?” she questioned.
The girls, eager to show off their little demigod, pointed him out.
“Oh God,” my Mother exclaimed, “He is hot!”
The girls nodded eagerly and when my Mother finally walked away, they whispered to me, “Your Mom is so cool.”
I decided right then and there that our friendship had to end.
The very next day, I set about purposely avoiding the Bitch Brigade.
And my Mother started taking tennis lessons.
*Part 2 of this story can be found here.
- The Best/Worst Summer of my Life
- Drunk Parents, Teenage Relationships, and a Betrayal of Trust
- Image is Everything
- How To Be A Girl Bully
- Girl Fight!