From a series by Steve Graham
Paul was happy to leave work a bit earlier than usual, even though he was dreading the task ahead.
Paul’s son James, and his fiancée April, had made a reservation for Paul and Jamie at a B&B in Niagara-on-the-Lake, for their wedding anniversary. When James called to tell him about the B&B and the tickets to the Shaw Festival, Paul objected.
“Relax, Dad”, James had told his father. “April and I are doing really well. We just wanted to say thanks for all your help with my education. Actually it was April’s idea; she thinks the world of you and mom. The B&B will email you the confirmation and they’ll have the Shaw tickets for you. It’s all paid for so if you don’t go it’ll be wasted. Oh, and the B&B has a pool too. I remember the stories of how you and mom met at the lake. April thought it would be romantic for your anniversary. There’s even a yoga studio next door if Mom wants to get away from you for a while. You’re all set up for 4 nights starting on the 2nd.”
Paul could hardly believe it, but a few days later the confirmation from the B&B arrived in his inbox. He sent James a quick note of thanks and also asked him not to tell his mother – he wanted it to keep it a secret until the last minute.
He knew that Jamie loved to swim, but the family cottage was sold when neither she nor her brothers could decide on the best way to share it. They hadn’t been swimming in years.
When Paul had asked one of the women at work about the best place to buy a swimsuit for his wife, the reply was, “Ooh, women and swimsuits, that’s a tricky one, even women don’t want to go there..but try Victoria’s Secret at the mall, the sales staff are very helpful”.
As Paul approached the store there were two women big as life standing either side of the door in their underwear. ‘I’ve never seen posters like that before’, thought Paul. This is a long way from the Sears catalogue when I was a kid. I’ve raised two daughters, I have a sister, and I enjoy the company of women.. but all this estrogen is a bit intimidating.
Paul walked through the door and before he could get very far a tall young woman approached and said, “Hi, I’m Kayla, how may I help you?”
Gee, thought Paul, the poster just came to life, albeit fully dressed. “I’m here to get a swimsuit for my wife. My son and his fiancée bought us a weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake for our wedding anniversary, and I want to surprise her. We haven’t been swimming in years.”
“Ooh,” Kayla remarked. “Women and swimsuits, that’s a tricky one, but I’m sure we can figure something out, how tall is she?”
“Five six, not nearly as tall as you”.
“I’m five eight,” said Kayla. “It’s the heels.” Paul was starting to relax, Kayla was putting him at ease even though this was as close as he’d ever been to someone this close to resembling a supermodel.
“She’s had three children,” continued Paul, “I think she’d feel best in a one-piece suit.”
“I’ve had two kids,” remarked Kayla. “I’ve found that yoga has really helped me get back in shape and feel good about myself.”
“What studio?” inquired Paul. “My wife just started teaching.”
“Lisa’s on Main Street.”
They both looked at each other and said, “Jamie!” at the same time. “I’m Paul,” he said, shaking Kayla’s hand.
After that it was as if Kayla and Paul were old friends. “I think with Jamie’s skin tone, a turquoise or a coral colour would be best. Black or white is not as flattering at times”. Kayla pulled out a couple of suits from the rack.
“It’s hard to imagine just on the hanger,” remarked Paul.
“I’ll be right back.” Kayla came back a few seconds later with a tablet. “Have a look at these pictures from the web site.”
“Looks a bit revealing in the front.”
“Don’t worry,” said Kayla. “This suit will look good on her, she’ll rock it. It even comes with foam ‘cookies’ that can enhance and support the bust line a bit.”
“The back view looks kind of skimpy.”
“It’ll be fine,” assured Kayla. “Jamie has a figure that many women half her age would kill for. Helen Mirren is over sixty and she wears a bikini!”
Paul was feeling relaxed now. “I hope this doesn’t sound creepy but I’ve been checking Jamie out lately and she looks pretty darn good.”
“That’s sweet. You’re a real gem, Paul.”
“That’s what I keep telling her, maybe someday she’ll believe me. What size do you think?”
“Oh definitely a Small.”
“Really?” exclaimed Paul. “I don’t think she’s ever had a Small in anything, I just can’t imagine Jamie, well, I can, but you know what I mean, feeling comfortable with a ‘Baywatch’ sort of style.”
Kayla smiled, “Trust me, Jamie’s a bit short-waisted. Sorry, occupational hazard, I’m always sizing people. A small shouldn’t be too tight and it will ride a bit higher on the hips and make her legs look longer. It won’t look right if it’s loose and it’ll stretch slightly when it gets wet.”
“Sounds good,” Paul was momentarily distracted by the thought of Jamie’s legs. “But I can’t see her walking to the pool showing a lot of leg.”
“We have cover-ups that will go with the suit. I’m sure we can find one that will coordinate. If Jamie has a pair of casual summer shoes with a heel they’ll make her look tall and slim. If she wears them with the suit and cover-up they’ll boost her confidence; she’ll feel like one of the supermodels in the posters at the front of the store.”
Paul was sure Kayla was reading his mind. “I think one of my daughters has the same shoe size as Jamie. I’m sure they have the sort of shoe you’re describing.”
“That would work.”
“But I don’t know, my budget is kind of tight, I’ve given up coffee at the Donut Den for the last 6 months so I could get Jamie a nice anniversary present.”
Kayla tapped a couple of times on her tablet and said, “At a rough guess I’d say that’s about 200 dollars.”
“Well, the swimsuit we chose is 40% off, and all the cover-ups are on clearance at 50% off. I think your budget might even stretch to some yoga wear if you’re interested. Most of that’s on sale, too. Jamie always compliments me on mine.”
A few minutes later, with some yoga wear selected too, Paul and Kayla said goodbye, “If you see Jamie at yoga don’t say you saw me, it’s going to be a surprise.”
“Right,” said Kayla. “Your Victoria’s Secret’s safe with me”.
They both looked at each other, groaned and then laughed as Paul left the store.
Paul escaped Victoria’s Secret two hundred and eleven dollars lighter. I won’t be getting that Ortofon 2M Red anytime soon, he thought, but Jamie will love the yoga wear. The swimwear, ooh that’s a tricky one.
Paul stuffed his shopping under the spare tire to hide it from Jamie.
In the next chapter, Jamie bumps into a hi-fi neighbour.