I consider myself a man of the people, in touch with with the collective norms that our society lives by. Well, for the most part at least. On a recent trip to Banff, I was shown that I am in fact, completely disconnected from reality.
While on a business trip to Calgary, myself and my two co-workers, Dustin and Eric, decided to use our Sunday off as a chance to see how rocky the Rocky Mountains really were. To see for ourselves if John Denver was telling the truth.
After a long day of sight seeing the only fitting way to relax in the rockies was to visit the Banff Hot Springs for an evening soak. Unfortunately, we didn’t bring our bathing suits. You might think all is lost, but wait!
Luckily, like any good tourist swimming hole they rent out bathing suits. You might think that’s disgusting, but let’s get real. It’s no different than using a hotel towel, which we all do. Get over yourself.
In addition to the traditional trunks for rent, they also rent out even more traditional swimwear, vintage swimming dresses for men. Early 20th century swim costumes is men’s swimwear at its most majestic. An era when men wore modified dresses to go swimming and that was cool because it was conservative. An age when seeing a man’s belly button was considered scandalous beyond belief. I thought that given the right situation that it might still be cool. I would soon be proved wrong.
Both vintage and current bathing suit styles were two dollars, I obviously chose the vintage version. Historic swimming costumes, how could I resist. I have a history degree, it would do my education no justice to miss this golden opportunity. I wanted to plunge into history…wearing a dress.
I was genuinely excited about getting my swim costume, although no one else seemed share my enthusiasm for cotton. I assumed that many people embraced this novelty on a daily basis. Apparently, I could not be more completely disconnected from the real world with this assumption.
I requested my bathing suit at the counter giggling like a child in a candy store with fistfuls of sweets. The women at the register rolled her eyes, and we ran into the change room. I never thought I would ever be so excited about renting an old heavy cotton bathing suit, but there we were the three of us getting changed into these beautiful swim garments.
Wearing our swim costumes and smiles we stepped out onto the pool deck to realize that out of roughly eighty people we were the only ones who elected to rent and wear this slice of history. We were probably the only people who were renting bathing suits at all.
I felt like a leper. Never have I felt so vulnerable while being so conservatively dressed.
As if we had a horribly contagious disease, we stood in the middle of the pool with a completely vacant radius around us.
People laughed, children asked questions, we were embarrassed. It never feels good to be in a pool and have people pointing and laughing. If I wasn’t so completely pleased with my swim apparel, my ego might have been bruised. Fortunately, I was far too self obsessed with my beautiful cotton man dress.
The costumes were everything I could have hoped for, ill fitting, heavy wool, unimaginative, and beautiful. If you weren’t a strong swimmer, these puppies were heavy enough to drag a full grown man to the bottom of the spring.
I can honestly say that I thought that some people would have seized this bargain opportunity to swim through the ages. I was wrong. I’m willing to wager that we were the only bathers in Canada wearing this slice of prehistoric swimming fashion.
I thought I was a man of the people. Apparently, I’m not… and it took me wearing a man’s swimming dress to realize it.