There was one condition to the two-piece: his daughter—at the beach—wearing a winter jacket.
“Take a look at this,” my wife showed me the Instagram picture of a girl on the beach. Bikini top with matching white sunglasses, windswept blonde hair, white sandy beach stretched out behind her with the pavilion and dunes fencing in the background.
“Wait…,” I said. “Is that our daughter?!” After a second, it registered that the girl in the photo actually was my 14-year old daughter. “Nooooooo!”
Add to that the effort my daughter initiated last summer by lobbying to get a beach pass. Several of her friends had gotten season passes and it really is a deal. For 20 bucks anyone under 18 can get a pass to one of the best local beaches in our area—it also happens to be the trendiest. It is the kind of beach that despite it being crowded most parents feel comfortable dropping their kids off in groups for an afternoon.
Besides, it is the place to be after Memorial Day.
To offer some teenage perspective, consider that beach our local equivalent of the steps outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art where Blair and Serena…Ok, never mind, and I apologize for the Gossip Girl reference. Please, forget I said that (XOXO).
Now, I was home the day the bathing suit arrived in the mail from Hollister. After my daughter tore the package open, I stared at the separate pieces suspended in clear plastic bags and asked,
“Where’s the rest of it?”
Her only response was a condescending frown.
She didn’t actually try it on until several days later, and at that time I happened to be zonked out on allergy meds thanks to a late-Spring tsunami of pollen. I overheard she and my wife discussing the fit and the fact that it was a steal online, but I never actually saw it on her.
The day the photo was taken she had been at a friend’s birthday sleepover and the girls were planning to spend Saturday at the beach. Again, we’ve had some days in the 80s here in R.I., but I figured even if they went to the shore, knock 15 degrees off the thermometer thanks to the ocean breeze, and they’re all wrapped in hoodies most of the day.
Of course, those reflect the hopeful thoughts of a middle-aged father.
However, with Instagram as witness, most of them ran around half-naked that day.
Which brings us to this past Friday.
My daughter asked on Monday night if she and a couple friends could go the the beach after school on Friday. As is typical, my wife said, “I’ll talk to dad when he gets home from work.”
“Who’s going,” I asked. One of her girlfriends and two boys, my wife informed. Oh, as long as it … Wait, what? BOYS! Who boys? Where boys? What boys? So, basically a double date! A half-naked double date! What the [email protected]#%!
When my daughter got up for school the next morning she started with the, “Can I go? Is it alright?” We sent her off on the bus with my last words being that key phrase all parents are required to use as a stalling tactic designed to buy more time in order to become comfortable with an uncomfortable situation, “We’ll see.”
My daughter texted throughout the day, Well? Well? Well?
“What do we think,” my wife asked. What do we think? What do we think? For crying out loud I have seen the bathing suit, or to be precise the pieces of fabric pretending to be clothing.
“Fine,” I relented. “She can go but under one condition.”
“And what is that?”
“She has to wear her winter jacket.”
We made the winter jacket joke as often as possible over the days leading up to Friday. My daughter would laugh and go about her business. Finally she said to my wife, “I don’t really even know what you mean by that?”
“Your father doesn’t want your boyfriend ogling your body.”
She paused, then it registered, “Oh. Got it.” She laughed out loud. “I’ll just wear a sweatshirt then.”
I don’t know whether or not to be grateful or petrified at her 14 year old naiveté. At least she’s willing to wear a sweatshirt.
Though I’d still be happier if she took a jacket.
Photo: Getty Images
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