I think the boys kinda knew where I stood on the whole thing.  So when they said things like (insert name of famous wakeboarder) got a girl to do a push-up with him on her back!  I heard their frank admiration as I was registering my own very different reaction.

Someone or some ones had promoted the idea that a man on a public stage lying on the back of a college-age woman was great fun! Memorable.

I was not there when the coed let the wakeboarder ride her, but I do think it was memorable.  Plaintiff-lawyer, sexual-harassment, years-of-therapy, event-organizer-is-a-middle-aged-college-instructor, what-the-hell?!?-memorable.

Who had given these teenage boys the belief that this behavior wa not just socially acceptable but cool?

We all had.  Not just the adults who brought their kids to the event.  Not just the self-styled celebrity judges.

All of us. The churches who came to use the facilities.  Regular, ordinary wakeboarders who might go out of our way to avoid the bikini contest but did nothing to intervene.

Wakeboarding will be a boobs-n-beer sport until we shed light on the misogyny promoted by some people who are powerful in the sport and demand change.

Women in wakeboarding can do so much more than carry the boy-men of the sport on their backs.

I tie bandanas on each

Think she should name them

At some point in time

We must all name them

The right and the left

Outstretched arms

He did not reply and Pilate was amazed

Looked into the crowd of angry…

Helpless, broken 

Justice, mercy

Sorrow, hope

Pairs of things

With ancient, original and sacred names on them

File into the ark

Mute and two by two

Flood or resurrection

boat or Cross

Immissa, patibulum

Someone must carry them outside the sanctuary
Up the hill 

To his end

And our beginning 

Freed to walk, or even fly

But tied to Him, forever 

first the don’ts:

Don’t wax

Don’t spray tan anything 

Don’t take it too seriously

Don’t expect to win

Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want your grandchildren to see

Now the dos:

Pray

Accept your body

Embrace the humor

Ask why?

Honor the other participants

Give sound advice

Listen to their stories

Verify they are old enough for what is about to happen

Draw strength from the Cross

(Also, it helps if you can get some practice.  Things that helped me to prepare for my bikini contest were thankless jobs and other contests where I knew I would not win.)

I obsessed about it for weeks beforehand–what would I wear? What would I say?  What would I do to prevent getting embroiled in sexual degradation?

I mean, I had seen the videos.  Young, very young women in the barest of bikinis seemed to have lost leave of their position in front of the crowd, in front of the camera, and could be seen doing highly inappropriate things with their posteriors for all posterity.

I would go ordinary places and mentally remind myself that the cashier, the pedestrian, the librarian had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

They did not know that the very chubby, very middle-aged, nearly hairless specimen of womanhood before them was a “bikini contestant.”

Ultimately I had to let go of any shred of dignity to do this.  Or so I thought at the time.  Not because I planned to do anything untoward.  No.  

I had to fold up and discard notions of dignity because it wasn’t a bikini contest, it was a sexual cattle call.  And as heifers went, I was past my prime.

To this day I marvel that I believe this guy–slicked-back hair, in the bereavement business.  He was hired by a funeral home owned by a lawyer who was embroiled in what could politely be described as a baby relocation scheme and less politely–felony kidnapping.

So the man with the slicked-back hair told us all that “they” had studied people who were grieving and found that those who repeated the story frequently healed better.

So many verbs, adjectives, adverbs, quantifiers.  Could you really know?  Could you actually assess the silent grievers?  What does it mean to heal or recover?

Nonetheless, I believed him.  Sometimes to extreme.  I have told, written, squeaked, howled, and shouted stories of autobiography and grief.

Has it helped?

I think so.

I think that the recitation of a story can help process and organize the meat of it all.

Emotion, chronology, whatever.

So I am going to try it.  Tell the story.  Same-ish story.  Over and over again. 

See if the lugubrious man in the funeral home was onto something.

I am short, chunky, very middle-aged with a buzz cut and old lady glasses.

Not your average bikini contestant.

When I say that I believe that God wanted me to join a bikini contest…well, you will add “crazy!”

And it was a little crazy.  I kinda obsessed over the whole thing.  I am not a fan of body image contests in general and was really not enthusiastic about displaying my own.

Once I secured entry into the contest, I thought–best diet ever?!?

But God pointed out that desperately altering my body image for a contest I was not sold on was defeating the purpose.

So, no diet.  He was aiming for a display of my inner beauty. Typical of Him.

I worried about my motif–my theme, if you will.  If you join a bikini contest to display inner beauty, what does that look like?

I started by realizing that the people I would have invited to a bikini contest would all be memorable for their personality–Harriet Tubman, Einstein, Father Brown, some ladies from my water aerobics class..skinny dude sporting a speedo on his SUP with his retriever…Leslie Jones…

Oldies, fatties, and oddballs would all be welcomed–because I am all three.

I had several themes I adopted to anchor me in all of this.  “My bikini contest” was a theme, and that was the chrysalis for a second theme–

Be memorable.

We spend so much of our lives worrying about the size of our asses.  What does the world look like when we worry instead about the shape of our immortal selves?

We don’t talk about our immortality that much. What if we did?  What if we obsessed about who we will be?

We all believe you are the Zen Master, the Jedi knight of cable operators–quiet, but fearless.

I remember the long, long time I struggled with the process of getting off the dock.

There was phase one–total assistance.

Phase two–swing the board

Phase three–push and count to three

Phase four–just count.

And an optional loop of these last three phases for wakeskate.

I can do it all myself now, although never do I take it for granted.

There would be times–many, many times when just knowing that you were operating made the kids and I breath a sigh of relief.

It wasn’t just that you were a good cable operator, you made us calm.  You had our back.

And we loved you and admired you for it.

I don’t trust many people.  I trust you.  You are the best.

And because I trust you, and because you are the best, I will miss you so much.

As far as we are concerned you will always be family.  And you go on to the next step with our prayers and our hope to see you thrive.

On and off the water, may you thrive.

You will be forever a part of our story.

Thank you,

E, for all of us