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I’m not a tube top woman. Trust me. Few things in life—scratch that—one thing in life would ever get me to wear one. And let’s just say that experience offered quite the surprise insight.
As a half-Italian kid growing up in the 70s and 80s, I didn’t give much thought to whether or not I had a tan. When it was summer I was outside, and therefore, tan. Period. (Sunscreen wasn’t even around, so don’t give me a hard time.) It wasn’t until the summer of my wedding that I ever thought twice about tanning or tan lines.
My wedding was in late July, but early that summer I spent a long afternoon in the sun in my typical careless manner…wearing a tank top. I came home to distinct tan lines across my shoulders, and then it dawned on me: my wedding gown was strapless. Uh-oh.
What to do? Suddenly this girl who never paid attention to sun exposure was in overdrive to get the white from underneath the straps caught up to the new darker tone. This is not so easy to do. I took every moment I could to lay out (ack!) and try to have the color even out.
Never one to like just lying in the sun and baking, I decided to take drastic measures. I bought a tube top (aka bandeau) that I could wear and “be active” in—but only hidden in the backyard. These things are not what I would term “secure” attire. I found myself frequently hiking the slippery devil back into place and gingerly getting my work done.
As the handyman for my mom’s house since my dad died, I had a pretty wide range of abilities in getting tasks done, and one afternoon I needed to put new flashing on the roof of the shed. Not a problem, just climb up there and get to it. Let me tell, you, though—if you’ve never been up on an asphalt shingled roof, it’s not only hot, but the shingles have a rough, almost Velcro-like texture to them. So…there I was, splayed up on the roof, putting on some new flashing in my “tan-catch-up” wardrobe…
All was fine until the screwdriver decided to roll away from me and head toward the edge of the roof. I sprung up to grab for it, and…can you picture it?
As I shot up, my top didn’t. Gripped by the asphalt shingles, it stayed in place long enough for my left breast—let’s be real here—my left boob to pop out and peer over into the neighbor’s yard and all God’s creation.
Oh, the thoughts that passed through my mind in that brief moment. Thankfully, the neighbors were not in that part of the yard to see Lefty’s wide-eyed hello, but I was mortified.
And here comes the life lesson…are you ready? When your boob pops out, you just need to tuck it back in and get on with your business.
In that moment of mortification, I realized that that was all I could do. That and have a good laugh. I must have been one ridiculous site—the Tube Top Roofer.
But I didn’t give up and climb down—I finished the job, tube top and all (though I made sure there would be no more rolling tools to chase).
After that, I assessed how crazy I was in my attempts to solve my tan line problem and lightened up (pun so intended). By then the distinctness of the lines had lessened and it wasn’t quite as noticeable, but I was also done caring so much about it. The Tube Top Roofer retired.
My wedding day came, and even though the faded tan lines were there, I don’t think too many people noticed. At least no one came up to me and said, “You look beautiful—too bad about the tan lines, though.”
Sometimes it takes a boob popping out to put things in perspective. And sometimes it takes tucking a boob back in to remind me that I am one resilient woman, and it would take so much more to get me off of that metaphorical roof.
My life is a continual reminder that my plan does not equal reality—that my schedule is not THE schedule…and that real strength comes from adapting and making the best of what is indeed reality, rather than lamenting how things didn’t go “my” way.
Errant tan lines happen. Boobs pop out. But weddings happen, and even honeymoons do, too.
And then it is back to making a life and rolling with the changes—and tucking boobs back in and getting on with the business of living.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!