Four long hours on the Long Island Expressway. I am doing a family jailbreak under the guise of meeting the plumber at our house. I decide to head straight for a dip in the Ocean. I want to wash off the stench of the city with the biggest neti pot there is… the mighty Atlantic. It’s mid July but the turbulent grey waters are still frigid and mean. Nobody on the beach at this late hour, so I slip into a pair of old Speedo’s I keep in the car for convenience, comfort and time management.
This particular form of male swimwear is known around the world by many different names like, “weenie bikini”, “root suit”, “banana hammock”, “nad swag”, “ball bag” and my favorite, “budgie smuggler”, coined after a small Australian bird. While generally recognized as an acceptable form of beachwear abroad, in this country, the “cucumber slumber cabana” carries all the cultural shame and more potential for a hate crime than being a homosexual in 1950’s. In other words, if your not Michael Phelps, Arnold Schwarzenegger or a Chippendale stripper, you only don one at your own peril here in the land of the free.
There’s a chill in the air but the long sprint from the parking lot to the water’s edge, coupled with the exhilaration of doing a near streak keeps me warm. I plunge into the violent froth and the temperature shock hits me like a full body defibrillator. I come up gasping only to catch a heaving five foot shore break square on the head. I’m tossed around like a rag doll in the impact zone, my exposed skin grating across the rough sandy bottom. I’m finally spat out in the shallows like a dead jellyfish with a pound of sand in my drooping trunks and not much else due to the significant shrinking effect of the icy seas. I stagger to my feet and manage to reach the top of the sand berm before the next wall of water smashes to the shore. I was in the water less than 20 seconds. With disheveled hair, bright red exfoliations and wearing what could only be described as a dirty diaper sent through a wood chipper, I make the long cold walk of shame back to the car. I’m so beat up, I make Tom Hanks’ Castaway character look like a Calvin Cline underwear model. I don’t have the strength to change, so a lay a towel on the front seat and prepare for the short drive back to the house.
I’m startled by a knock on the passenger side window. I look over and like the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, two attractive coeds are peering through the glass looking extremely needy. One is wearing a bikini top with a wrap and the other has on some kind of translucent sun dress. I roll down the window and they ask for a lift up Ocean Rd to Bridgehampton. Before I realize what’s happening they pile in. Quickly I become aware of my appearance and my face turns the color of my new contusions. They turn out to be Russian pack backers, in town for the summer working for slave wages at an overpriced and under delivering french restaurant called Pierre’s. The SiriusXM “Hits” channel is playing and the ruskies quickly fall under the false impression I’m current. After discovering our common love of Cold Play, the one in the back asks me if I was swimming. The snarky side of me wants to say, “No spear fishing.” but I’m in no position to be sarcastic. The other says I should come sit in her section at the restaurant tonight. I start to think they might be daylighting hookers but then it dawns on me that one good tipper at Pierre’s prices can make your whole night.
I now hover over the car in my mind’s eye with calming objectivity as we approach the drop off area near highway 27. I conjure up an image of one of our nosy, gossip-staved neighbors, witnessing the scene and then painting the picture of a mid-life crisis gone horribly wrong at her next bridge party. I can see her sitting patiently for a triumphant bid then casually dropping the bomb where she saw me the day before, looking like Mr. Burns in a pair of “rocks jocks”, hooking up with two next-gen Trotskyites.
I can’t get them out of my car fast enough. I’m driving home and thinking how this is one of those fantastical exceptions where things don’t appear as they seem and the logical explanation is not always the right one.
I next contemplate how to frame this strange encounter to my wife and realize I must first gauge her ability to suspend disbelief, as she would when watching a movie like X-men or Shrek. Although this story is non-fiction, it still draws from a mythical cosmic intervention, as she must now draw upon our mighty matrimonial bonds and the implied faith of our sacred vows. In short, she must simply consider and ultimately accept that this is merely a case where one crossed the culturally accepted boundaries of how far a man can venture from the beach in a “sausage sling” without getting into trouble.