Back Chat: The Wetsuit

Back Chat: The Wetsuit

The first wetsuit we chose was a Ripcurl (to make me feel young) – and a size ‘L’ (to make sure it would fit). But it didn’t. No matter how hard I pulled on that black rubber, I couldn’t get it past my waist let alone up over my shoulders.

By John Cooney

I CAN’T SURF TO SAVE MYSELF. Which is a tiny bit embarrassing. Because most younger members of my ever-expanding family LOVE riding the waves. And, many birthdays ago, in the hope that I might join them, my wife bought me a wetsuit …

A wetsuit is not what I would’ve chosen. I would’ve preferred a couple of good books. Or a night in a posh motel. But “a nice wetsuit might inspire you, darling,” she enthused as she steered me into the shop.
The first wetsuit we chose was a Ripcurl (to make me feel young) – and a size ‘L’ (to make sure it would fit). But it didn’t. No matter how hard I pulled on that black rubber, I couldn’t get it past my waist let alone up over my shoulders.

“We’ll just change it for a bigger size,” she said, reassuringly. Which is how I came to spend my birthday humiliating myself in the very small fitting room of a very large sports store.

My wife found an XL, and together we wrestled it up to my armpits. But my manly bosoms still oozed dangerously out the top, and my nipples threatened to snap off.

We tried a XXL (can you believe this?). And by crouching in the foetal position I managed to get my arms and shoulders in. But when I tried standing up, the stretchy stuff wouldn’t let me. And with the blood all squeezed to my head, I was getting a migraine.

A skinny young salesman offered to help. And together we shoved my protesting body into a cheaper, less popular wetsuit that had neither legs nor arms.

I looked awful – like a hippo in a leotard. But by then I couldn’t care less. The salesman unzipped me, my wife helped him yank it off, we paid our money, thanked him profusely and took the stupid thing home.

Funnily enough, I never made it to the beach that summer. Can’t remember why. And as for the wetsuit? It hung forgotten in my wardrobe until a grandson found it and stole it. I didn’t even mind …

“I WAS BETTER AT SNORKELING THAN I WAS AT SURFING,” SAYS JOHN, GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER. “BUT THE WORD ‘SNORKEL’ ALWAYS SOUNDED FUNNY. SAY IT A FEW TIMES AND YOU’LL SEE WHAT I MEAN …”