Forward Fashion


Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

For the first time in my adult life, I managed not to sob like a three-year-old who’s just dropped her ice cream when I confronted the truth: after two trips to the beach, multiple trips to the pool and general wear and tear; it was time to replace my swimsuit.

Feeling like a big girl for not crying, I treated myself to a piece of chocolate. Then I set aside a morning to visit a local retail store so I could shop for a new bikini.

I entered the store full of false hope and optimism – optimism I expected to be quashed when I entered the dressing room.

I strolled through the store and looked for the swimwear department. After circling the store three times with no success, I asked an employee for guidance.

“Swimwear is done for the season,” she said in a voice that implied my question was at once the dumbest, most boring question she’d been asked in her entire retail career.

“What do you mean it’s done for the season?” I asked confused.

“I mean,” she replied irritably, “that we have no swimsuits for sale.”

“But it’s July,” I replied dumbfounded.

“Right, so it’s time for back to school,” she said. It was obvious she hoped I’d go away. She was in for a disappointment.

“Kids don’t go back to school for six weeks,” I protested.

“Still,” her tone became ever crisper, “it’s time for them to get ready. Perhaps you want something new for fall?” She tried to redirect me.

It is a tactic I know well. I use it with my pets and my spouse daily. I had no intention of allowing her to use it on an expert like myself.

“No,” I replied. “I want something new for the pool.”

She steered me toward a rack. “This lovely sweater, perhaps?”

“Sweater?” I repeated incredulously. “It’s ninety-five degrees out! It won’t be sweater weather here for four more months if we have an early fall! What do I need a sweater for?”

“So you’ll be ready for back to school,” she replied curtly.

Irritably, I gave her sarcastic thanks, left the store and did my shopping online. Later, I reflected, that if America’s students worked as hard at their studies as retail stores do in selling them back to school gear, our nation’s students would be first in the world.


Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at