Surfing Vancouver Island  

First wetsuit by Bonzer  

First wetsuit
by Bonzer

My first wetsuit. I was so happy to be getting it. I had been surfing without one for a couple months now, and the water never did warm up much that summer. Anyway as fall approached, I knew I'd better start looking for one. I had already done a little research, so felt prepared to take on the task in a forth-right and professional manner.

I started shopping by laying out a course of shops I planned to compare. I knew that for a large ticket item, comparison shopping can be a wise move. So I planned to start at a shop close to my home. In reality, I wanted to buy from this shop if I could, just in case there were any warranty issues, then the source of resolution would be close at hand. My plan was to start there, with a short list I had compiled of wetsuits I was interested in. Based, of course, on my exhaustive research. And then, price shop. Once I found the cheapest price for the desired size, brand, and style, I would go back to the original shop and ask if they would match it. Not bad for a barney, eh? So, I began the day with a stop at the closest shop.

This particular shop is rather small. Actually, cramped would better describe it. The wetsuits, along with everything else, are pretty much jammed into their respective places fairly tight. This made browsing a little less covert than I had hoped. I had to actually take each one off the rack to look at it, as there wasn't room to push others aside and quickly glance at them. The retail girl wanted to be helpful, but I said no thanks. She was pretty young, and I knew what I was looking for, and didn't want to be pressured into buying at this point. I also didn't want to hear a bunch of balony about the products. After all I had done extensive research and already knew which ones looked the coolest.

So, I picked out a couple to try on. I did get some advice from her as to sizes, because I was unclear on that. So I took them to the changing room in the back to try them on. To call it a changing room is being very generous and there was no door on it, only a curtain. I suppose this was good since it was so small that when you stretched out your arm to put on or remove the wetsuit, you pushed out the curtain. Had a door been there, I'm not sure how you could have done it. I noticed the hinges still in place, indicating that there had, at one time, been a door affixed. Likely some poor dolt got tangled up in his wetsuit, couldn't get out, ended up with a severe case of cramps, the door had to be cut away with a chainsaw, and he sued. Just a guess, but if I tried, I could almost imagine it happening. Although it was a bit of a stretch, it made me chuckle to myself.

Well, here I was, in the "room". I peeled off my clothes and hung them on the little hook. The mirror was outside, and even though I m not very big, I barely had enough room to slither into the wetsuit. Of course what I did could hardly be called slithering. You see, this was my first time. Yes, I had never even put one on before now. So after several minutes of uncomfortable contortionistic type movements, I had both legs in and the suit pulled up about my waist. Problem, I was wearing boxers and they were all scrunched up along the sides and it looked stupid. I tried to push them down. No dice. So I did the unthinkable, I took them off and put the suit back on. I wasn't going to step out there looking stupid, whatever the cost. The retail girl suggested that, before I put it on all the way, I come out and she could check the length of the legs, etc., to make sure I had the right size. Good idea, because something still did not feel quite right. I suspected the fit. After all I was knowledgeable about these things. So I stepped out.

She looked at me for a moment, kind of puzzled and then kindly asked me to continue putting it on the rest of the way. A few people were now in the store and glanced over just as I got my arms in. Like an old pro, I grabbed the zipper leash and had it most of the way up before it occurred to me that I had it on backwards. Had to be, cause I had never seen a zipper in the front, and I couldn't imagine what the pads behind my knees would be for. The retail girl started laughing. I don't blame her, she was not a mature woman and couldn't be expected to be completely professional. And it must have looked a little bit funny. Someone else in the store laughed as well, but before I could see who that immature person might be, I had already shoe-horned myself back into the changing closet. This time I got it right. I came out and checked it out, moved around, and she checked the fit. Well, it was not exactly what I was looking for and didn't quite like how it fit. So, back in the closet for the next one. As I pulled this one on, I was far more careful as to it's orientation relative to my body. I noticed it was getting easier to get on due to the profuse sweat that was beginning to run the length of my appendages. Why didn't this store have air conditioning I thought. But it was still a struggle before I got into it. I could tell right away though, this was the one! I stepped out and she looked it over and said it looked good. She wrapped the neck strap around and asked me to move around in it. It felt good. As I moved around, I knew that sometime, before the end of this day, I would be taking this black and dark blue colored bodyglove wetsuit home. I was pumped. This suit was made for me and now my search would be easy. My plans were beginning to bear fruit.

I asked her the price, and she read it off the tag. I asked if she could come down and she asked what I had in mind. Great! I didn't have anything in mind, because I didn't know what they might cost elsewhere. So I just said I would think about it. Brilliant. I felt my plans slipping from my grip. So, I wedged myself back into the closet to change into my clothes. I heard her helping someone else just outside the door, er.. curtain. I had pulled the wetsuit down around my knees and was attempting to get the first foot past the tapered end of the leg when she asked me through the curtain if everything was all right. In that one moment of distraction, I lost my balance and fell headlong through the curtain, to land front and center, on the floor. There stood the sales girl and some customers. One leg still in the wetsuit to about my knee, one foot caught in the bottom of the other leg, and everything else simply au natural, wet with sweat, but au natural ( you have to say it with the right inflection, kind of French like).

Now things were not going according to plan at all. I had figured on using my sophisticated shopping techniques to obtain the best buy on the wetsuit of my choice. And now here I lay, humiliated for a second time, on the floor, mostly naked (and red I presume). I heard someone say, "he's not wearing his underwear". It only took a moment, a tick of the atomic clock, to size up the situation, consider my options and lurch back for the changing broom (you read right, BROOM) closet. As I got up, in my haste, I grabbed the curtain and pulled it off the hooks, ripping it in the process. There I stood, with the ripped curtain on the floor, my feet stuck in the legs of the wetsuit, trying to hold what was left of it around me, looking into the bare changing cupboard (which is still a generous description), wondering what I was going to do now. Of course, the retail girl wasn't much help, because she was rolling on the floor laughing, as was everyone else within my immediate sight. So with what little dignity I could muster, enough to suit the occasion anyway, I picked up the curtain, wrapped it around me, gathered my clothes and said "I think I'll take it, and a box won't be necessary. I'm just going to wear it home".

After reaching a considerable crescendo, the laughter subsided and we headed for the checkout counter. Tears were still streaming down her cheeks as she said, "that whole episode was easily worth a 15% discount, and you can keep the curtain". So, I paid the lady, strode out to my truck, attired as I was in my new curtain and tangled wetsuit, and went home. Now I shop exclusively by mail.


"better to be ignorant of a matter, than to half know it"
Publilius Syrus









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