“When in Rome” is a great excuse for the stupid things people do when they travel. That’s the mantra that was going through my head when I when I put my girls out there for the world to see. It was back in the 80s. Before kids. The “before kids” me was skinny, and didn’t have a lot of girlie goodies hiding under my shirt. Like- almost none. I was a lot more modest then, too.
In 1985 I was going back to school for nursing. No more corporate suits or panty hose. I would wear
pajamas scrubs and sneakers to work. I’d saved money, quit my job. All set to start in September. I was going to waitress all summer and save up more money. Then, Mom called. Somehow, she convinced me to take off for Europe instead. Just for the summer. “But school”…I said. “Helen and Jen are going too”. My rescue mom and her younger daughter. I knew I couldn’t afford it. She pointed out that we’d be taking the train a lot. On the train, we play cards for money. I win. A lot. We played for whatever the smallest denomination in each country we visited. Francs and gulden’s, mostly. By the end of the trip, my costs totaled $250. That was including a buying spree at NafNaf on the Champs-Élysées.
One thing I didn’t buy there was a bathing suit. I’d packed one, and it would be fine. Sure. It was a white one-piece suit with a big cartoon Minnie Mouse on the front. I wore it down to the pool in Monaco. As I was sitting down, I noticed some heads turning my way. A lot of them. I had on the only one piece suit at the pool. It was fairly crowded too. Sun glasses on, I safely spied on the other sunbathers. There were people from all age groups around the pool. Every single one of them, the toddlers to the ancient crones, were topless. They had sun browned tatas hanging (high and low) all over the pool. And here I was, all self conscious, in a one piece. Ugh. Why hadn’t I packed a bikini? I’ve never gone topless in public, and now I feel like the odd one here. I decided that I’d slowly just remove the straps, roll them down and get a little sun on my pale, anemic looking chest. A little at a time, slowly, casually I exposed my upper half. Finally, I had a little sun on my body. I picked up my book and started reading. I could tune out the people around me and get lost in a book. I was enjoying the feeling. The warmth of the sun, the freedom, the slight breeze. Then it got dark. I noticed this first. It was a shadow. The I heard a rustle, right by my feet. “Mi scusi”. It was a little boy. Actually, it was a whole heard of little kids, and behind them, a couple of men. What the!…They were holding out papers, and pens. A couple had autograph books. And my girls were all out there for those little beady eyes. Ugh! I realized fairly quickly that they thought I was someone else. I’ve no idea who I was meant to be. All I could think was to sign something quickly and get them away. I took the first paper and scribbled a name. Then another, and another. Only thing is, by doing so it seemed that I made things worse. It confirmed that I was “someone”. More people noticed. A couple of people took pictures. Without my permission. Like paparazzi. I felt kind of violated. And also, kind of scared. What if they realized I was a fraud? So as quickly as I could, I signed all the autographs, gathered up my things and ran. I never went back to that pool. In fact, I decided it was a little uncomfortable being there at all. We left that evening, returned to Nice and from there went to Switzerland. It was more comfortable there, as in not as hot. Also as in “people cover their tatas at the pool”. And nobody recognized me. I was the briefly famous, tata bearing glamorous girl in the Minnie Mouse one piece bathing suit, and they didn’t even notice. Hmph.