Many of you readers out there know me pretty well. I have a sharp tongue. I have a filthy mind. In addition to an easily distractable mind I have an often scary wit and do not shy away from many envelope-pushing opportunities. I can throw even the most sordid jokes around with aplomb.
In many ways, as many of you know, I am not a terribly modest person.
I do, however, have a few final bastions of Victorian Sensibility still wedged very deeply within my person. Examples thereof include my inability to easily drop the F bomb around people over the age of 50, and my robotic rejection of T-string underwear. I am terribly gun-shy about baring my shoulders in the workplace. I go purple at the idea of wearing SHORTS to a day at the office.
There are a few rules… a very few… to which I adhere on a level of instinct tantamount to that of the cat’s preference for meat over turnips. I am programmed to feel this way. A childhood spent among depression survivors who also happened to be tightly bound to my state’s Victorian mining industry contributed a large portion of that programming. The remainder of that programming was expertly done by my peers in school who relentlessly (it seemed) took every opportunity to point out my flaws and weaknesses and my every single failure to blend in socially. They did so (it seemed) ravenously, insatiably, surgically, and without mercy.
I bring all this up because there was a fun social event I attended this last weekend. It was a social event already laced with meaning and thick with ceremony: The Company Picnic.
I’m the new kid. I’m the newest hire. Nobody had met the beloved husband yet.
It was at a pool. Gentle reader, it was at a SWIMMING POOL! My heart still beats like the wings of a frightened sparrow at the thought. How many of YOU have seen me in a bathing suit? How often have any of you even seen me in SHORTS? When you have seen such a thing, how long did you know me before these things took place? Well, I assure you it was more than just a few months. And I can assure you, also, that if you HAVE seen me in these stages of dis-robe, it is a sure sign that I am quite fond of your company and trust you a very great deal.
I’ve only worked here at my new workplace for a few months and these people were hoping to see me in a bathing suit?
Pardon me while I die.
As it turns out, I rejected the whole swimming option, as did my beloved (and super sympathetic) husband. He wore shorts, I wore jeans, and we sweated it out under the canopy with the rest of the non-bathers. We all had a lovely time. We enjoyed the food, we met lots of everyone’s family, and we shared our own stories as we listened to others’. It was everything a picnic is supposed to be – except for the part where I’m now getting grief for having left the swimsuit at home.
“Nobody cares” I’m told.
Yeah, right. Like there’s any way in the nine levels of hell I’ll be found dead in a bathing suit at a public pool with my BOSS but a few dozen yards away. No thanks.
“Nobody cares” I’m told.
Seriously. No thanks. I work hard to conceal this matronly bosom of mine and by the gods there’s nothing in the world that would convince me that it’s in any way appropriate for me to unleash the goods upon my workmates by smashing said goods beneath a low cut, nylon-spandex one-piece only vaguely designed to bear it’s paper-white burden – and then jumping hysterically into a chlorine-y blue tank of ice cold toddler urine.
Just no. Just…. No.
Sure, I’m shy about my belly… and the new “thirtysomething butt” I’ve developed. I’m still unhappy with how the skin on my legs is healing and the hilarious new tan-line scorched into my shoulders. But that’s not really the heart of it. My boss does not need to know what I look like in a bathing suit – good bad or ugly. My co-workers don’t need to know how I look soaking wet and lightly chilled. I don’t want their approving (or otherwise) eyes on any flesh of mine beyond what can comfortably be displayed within the confines of a dreary work day. Call me a prude if you like, gentle reader, but I’m just not down with that.
In every other way, the company picnic was everything it should have been. It was a socially awkward mish-mash of cross-caste mingling and potato salad. Laughs were laughed. Hijinks were hijink’ed. Sodas and beers were pulled from gloriously iced coolers and wives and husbands and children all ceremoniously navigated handshakes and introductions. A day later and I’ll take the elbowing and the jokes about how little miss new kid wouldn’t take the plunge. I get it.
But seriously – I can’t be the ONLY person on the planet who feels this way?
I mean… come on. You know?