Sunday, July 10, 2011
I distinctly remember the first time that my thighs chafed.
It was the very last day of ninth grade - spent gallivanting at an amusement park with all of the other junior highlings worthy of such an incentive. The excitement of summer followed by my first year of high school was almost overwhelming.
I had been imagining this, my last junior high field trip, for an entire year. I had been horrified by my unsightly (baby) fat on the same trip the previous year. Ninth grade will be different, I told myself. Next year I will wear a sexy (whatever that is) bikini under my clothes instead of a ghastly, modest one-piece number.
The year passed without any (positive) changes, body-wise. I was grateful for the ever-increasing popularity of the tankini. Two neon pieces of spandex that managed to hide (most of) my bulging midsection? Such an excellent compromise.
That morning I shimmied into the little number and covered it with blue jean shorts and a ribbed t-shirt. I was primed and ready for water-slide and roller-coaster business.
But something happened that day. Something that would put me out of shorts and into carpi pants for at least five years. About halfway through the day, the inside of my thighs started hurting. Itching. Burning.
"Oh no," I thought to myself as we waited in line for the pirate ship ride, "I must have poison ivy again. How do you get poison ivy from spinning teacups?" (Please Note: never wipe with a leaf after using mother nature's bathroom in the middle of the night - no matter what your fellow Girl Scouts say.)
My legs grew sweatier by the second on this unseasonably hot Minnesota afternoon. I tried to discretely find relief whenever we sat down, spreading my legs apart and imagining the soothing bus ride home. The pain increased every time we stood up. It felt like fire ants. Bee stings.
Visiting the little girls room before leaving the park was horrifying. My legs were red and raw. Pricks of blood lined my legs near the seams of my shorts. I was convinced that my problem was far beyond poison ivy. This was some kind of mysterious theme-park disease.
"Your legs are just chafed," my mother said that night when I showed her my disfigurement.
"Is it curable?" I asked, not bothering to fight my tearful sobs.
My mother, adept at handing my unique type of drama, knew she needed to neutralize the situation.
"Don't worry. It is just from your legs rubbing together while you walked all day. Just sit down and relax. I'm sure it will stop hurting by tomorrow."
"From my legs rubbing together," I thought with a pained look on my face. "Are legs supposed to rub together? Clearly this is not normal. I am a freak. A fat-legged, chafing freak." I longed for the the bikini-one-piece-tankini-conundrum. Fat legs will look fat in any swimsuit.
My mother sensed my distress. "It can happen to anyone," she said. "It just depends on how you walk, and what clothes you wear. Dad's legs chaff horribly, and he is practically walking on sticks."
But it was too late. The damage had been done. I knew that my ninth-grade self was fatter than my eighth-grade self, and I couldn't see much hope for the future.
These days, it feels like my legs are always chaffed (though nothing compared the the horrible bloody theme-park experience). Instead of blaming it on my (tree trunkish) sturdy thighs, I blame my penchant for wearing dresses nearly every day. I would easily give up the girth of my thighs, but I am not about to give up the breezy dresses.
I am going to a local water park this afternoon to float around the lazy river. I am wearing my colorful one-piece swim suit. My legs will pour out of the bottom, covered in stretch marks. Some of the old stretch scars, normally white, will be red from yesterday's sundress-chafing.
But I won't care.
I have health, happiness, a fabulous floppy hat, and the bosoms to make any one-piece sexy (whatever that is).