When I’d been seeing my first boyfriend for a few months, he invited me to come and meet all his friends for the first time. And go swimming with them.
It was difficult to say no because he’d already met all my friends – Ellen – several times, and at one point had rubbed his foot against hers for quite some time when we were playing Capture The Flag on Call of Duty before she asked him what he was doing and he realised it wasn’t my foot.
So off I went, with Ellen, obviously, to find a bikini.
We’d been shopping for underwear together before. My much cooler and feminine sister had been buying Gilly Hicks underwear for years. It sounds fine that you’ve got a sibling that can show you cool stuff, but mine’s three years younger than me.
I can best describe our relationship as one time we were on holiday and looking at jewelry at a stand. The man behind the counter started chatting to us and found out we were sisters. “Ah, so you’re the boss then?” he said, looking at me. In front of a whole market stall and my sister, I had to reply “no”.
So, copying her in a bid to be more popular, for Christmas Ellen and I decided to go to Gilly Hicks, which had a deal on at the time; 5 pairs of underwear for £20. We traipsed down the high street through the rain, and spent hours choosing different ones – even one thong. I’ll just sit here and readjust my beige, period stained underwear that let you guess which one of us chose that.
We then walked back to meet her mum in Kingston car park, excitedly carrying out our paper Gilly Hicks bags like trophies in the horrid December rain. I was particularly excited about the paper bag, so I could use it to carry my packed lunch to school in on Monday. All the popular girls brought their lunches in with paper bags from different stores – Abercrombie was a firm favourite. I’d watch them, and think, my god, what I would give to sit with you all, and eat my sandwiches out of a black and white torso of a damp, shirtless man. Not like this shit bag from Lidl, which by sixth form I was waiting and eating on the bus home after school. Still though, all the old people on the bus must think I’m such a loser.
“Shall we have a look at them?” I said, excitedly, in the car on the way home. Ellen got hers out and we all said how nice they were. Then I went to get mine out, reached into the bag, and realised my hand went all of the way through, and out of the bottom. We then realised that at some point the wind had burst my paper bag open and somewhere on the highstreet all of my underwear must have flown out into the street. Merry Christmas to me.
So here we were, back again, this time at Dorothy Perkins, trying on bikinis. I found one in the sale which was essentially a push up bra, but the cup size was way too big. It made my tits look massive, as long as you weren’t standing close enough to realise that my boob stopped a good inch before the bra cup.
Then, on the day of the meeting, I drove me and my boyfriend to Merlon Rise – the same pool my class had swimming lessons in when I was at primary school.
We used to have swimming lessons every week, where I’d sit on my own on the coach, eating dry cereal and sugar lumps out of tupperware because of my low blood sugar. If I was lucky I’d sit with Catherine, but she was very popular and people would book her to sit next to them weeks in advance. “Same time again next week, Catherine?” they’d say, as I peered on, staring at them through the gap between the seats behind, sucking on a Ricicle.
Our dinner lady Mrs Richards would come and supervise the changing room. And thank god she did – one time I put my swimming costume on and was about to get into the pool and I didn’t realise my entire lip was poking out the side and Mrs Richards had to tell me to tuck my labia back in. Imagine! Nearly turned as red as the rubber latex swimming cap on my head. I almost looked silly for a second.
Not this time though. I had my Dorothy Perkins bikini on. Whoever suggested the pool thing is kind of a genius; it’s the perfect excuse to see what your mate’s new girlfriend’s body looks like. May as well have just sent them nudes and a CV attached, if only my nice underwear wasn’t scattered across Kingston high street. I wasn’t going to look like a loser though this time, because I also had a full face of make-up on – lipstick and all. Nobody could possibly make fun of me now. I’d nailed it.
I walked out, like chilly a debutant at a chlorine-themed ball, all his mates turned around. I gave everyone a little wave, and lowered myself into the pool.
Instantly my bikini top dribbled open like a fountain as soon as enough water filled up, my nipples flapping about. Using one arm to hold my tits in, and the other to wipe away the mascara that was now all down my face, I successfully made small talk with his friends for nearly an hour. Somewhere now, I think, Mrs Richards is looking down on me and smiling. I don’t think she’s dead, but she was really quite old when I was at primary school, so you never know.
I was so pleased with myself, I almost didn’t hear it when I emerged on the other side of the pool to overhear one of his female friends say to the other, “she is quite boring though”.