Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dayvare, Eveninkvare, Svimvare!

[This post was written for the 48th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted by Jasia at Creative Gene]

Well it is officially summer here in Chicago - despite our "pneumonia front" that came in Monday night and dropped the temperature from 80 degrees to 55 degrees in a matter of 15 minutes! And summertime means it is time to talk swimwear.

The title of this post sums up my feelings about the dreaded topic of swim suits, bathing suits and the like. I always think of that Wendy's commercial from the 1980s where they held a Russian fashion show and the outfit was basically the same:

Thankfully the woman had the ability to accessorize! As for me, my swim outfit really isn't a swim outfit - it tends towards the all-purpose summer outfit, one that I maintain today, albeit a few (okay, several) sizes larger.

My earliest memory of water and swimming is not a good one - in fact, it very easily could have been a tragic one and my last memory, at that. When I was about three years old, I fell into a lake at my father's hunting camp. Luckily my mother was right nearby and I probably was not in the water more than 30 seconds, but to this day I can still see her image through the murky lake waters with her entire arm submerged in the water searching for me.

As you can well imagine, I really don't care much for swimming, water, and oceans so I don't wear traditional swim suits. I do however enjoy going to the beach or socializing with friends and family around their pools or favorite swimming spots.

One of my favorite summertime spots of all time is Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. My family began making Rehoboth their preferred vacation destination for one week or more each summer when I was in college in Washington, DC. Even when I moved to California in 1986, I would fly into Newark, New Jersey and have family pick me up to drive down to Rehoboth.

This photo is from one of those summers when we rented an entire house for a week:

Photo: Thomas MacEntee, Tom Richardson and David Brown at Rehoboth, Summer 1983.

I am on the beach with good friends from college and you can again see my all-purpose "svimvare" ensemble consisting of a tank top or t-shirt and shorts. And you can also see how unbelievably tanned I am - for some reason I am able to get much darker than the rest of the Irish kin in my family. But we are now a bit older and much wiser (okay, a lot older) as to sun damage. Despite my many years of basking in the sun, Samsonite does not have a contract out on my hide so that it can be turned into luggage when I die. Do you remember the tanning crazes of your youth? Did you ever use baby oil? Or baby oil mixed with iodine? What were we thinking‽*

Even when I was at my lowest weight (which I've joked "is always in perfect proportion to my height, which changes constantly") I would never be seen without my trusty tank top and shorts:

Photos: Thomas MacEntee at Rehoboth, Summer 1987.

These days, I still sport the same outfit once the weather warms up. I put away the sweatpants, the fleeces, the jeans and pull out the camo shorts, walking shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and wacky Hawaiian shirts.

As the commercial says, "Very nice!"

* A special prize for anyone who can tell me what punctuation symbol this is and when it is used. And I don't mean the asterisk.


Kathryn Doyle said...

I'm sure I'm not the first but just in case: the "interrobang" is the combination of the exclamation point and the question mark, used for rhetorical questions and emphasis. Personally, I'm too much of a traditionalist to use it. I concur with your opinion on open water, however!

Laura said...

My mother was a very dark tanner, too; alas I turned red and peeled, but it did not stop me from baking away in the 60s and early 70s - I can't believe that we used to use suntan lotion to get more tan, rather than sunblock!

wendy said...

I used cocoa butter or baby oil or those Hawaiian tropics dark tanning lotions! Now I use sunscreen at the highest level! Love the story - thanks!

looking4ancestors said...

I enjoy your sense of humour. That Wendy's commercial sure brings back memories. Sunbathing with baby oil was very popular when I was 14! Now where did I put my SPF 60 sunblock?

Terry Thornton said...

THOMAS, An "interrobang!?" And you didn't dare show up in svimvare either!? [or should that be ?!]

What fun. Enjoyed your article for the swimsuit edition.

Are you old enough to remember when that tanning solution called "Man Tan" arrived. I was in undergradute school at Ole Miss --- and walnut-colored friends started showing up!


Thomas MacEntee said...


Kathryn Doyle was our winner of "guess that punctuation mark!

I don't remember ManTan - perhaps it was before my time. I do remember the Coppertone ads and then Bain De Soleil (for the Sante Tropez tan) ads.

Elizabeth said...

Ah, guilty as charged. I used baby oil, and frequently "tanned" until I blistered. I don't doubt that I'll be keeping some doctors in business very soon, as I'm starting to see the errors of my wicked tanning ways.

Great post, Thomas! Weren't the 80's great?!

Moultrie Creek said...

What a hunk! I have to agree the 80s were great - and I'm enjoying re-living them here.

Janice said...


Although I'm sure someone will show up and say that there never was such a race, perhaps you are one of the black Irish that my gram used to mention on occasion. It would explain your tan. I ended up with the very dark brown hair, but the pale easily-burning skin.


linda (artist formerly known at unedeuxtoile, etc.) said...

If I could add an audio, I would be whistling at your tasteful swim attire:) I had never seen that Wendy's commercial before but loved it. Thanks!

Apple said...

I can't imagine going to the beach and not enjoying the water! I rarely bother with sunscreen unless I plan to be on the beach all day. I never used baby oil but I did spend some time an ugly shade of orange from using a tan in a can product.