Friday, October 16, 2009
When Uniform-ity is Not to Our Son’s Liking (Bas the Rule-Breaker??)
It seems like everyone in the service industry wears a uniform here. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the bakery, the auto shop, the grocery store, the restaurant or the car rental place. Everyone has a defining outfit. Upon reflection, it occurs to me that the same is more or less true in the US but that I don’t notice it as much because I don’t see workers on the street, waiting for the bus like I do here. Americans jump in their own cars and head home. But the thing that is different here in Brazil is that uniforms are also required for people to belong to a school or club.
Who would have thought a bathing suit would have reduced my 5-year old to sobs of distress? Bas just started swim lessons at ‘Gota d’agua’ (water drops) Club this week and like everywhere, there is a required uniform. In this case, I had to purchase a Gota d’agua-brand Speedo. Bas was skeptical as I pointed out all the other boys and male instructors wearing the same style suit. But it was beyond the pale when he put it on. The tears quickly turned to sobs as he begged me to get it off him. “It’s too short! It shows too much of my legs!” he cried.
Fifteen minutes of his half-hour lesson ticked by as he refused to get in the water because of his embarrassment over the suit. I finally talked the instructor into letting Bas wear his swim trunks on top of the Speedo. She said o.k. but that this was not usually acceptable and that in the future, he would need to wear the required suit and bathing cap (another mountain to conquer). Oh, and they wouldn’t let him wear his swim goggles either. He had to learn to open his eyes in the chlorinated water. Geez. Do they want him to enjoy this experience or not?
And now a word about Brazilian bathing suits. Most Americans have a vision of some knock-out Brazilian model in a thong bikini strutting her stuff down Ipanema Beach. Yes, it is true that many women here choose this style of bathing suit (whether it is suited to her body type or not), but I have also seen women in a much more modest one-pieces (at least in the more conservative state where we live). Brazilian men tend towards a Speedo-style suit called a ‘tsunga.’ Like the women’s suit, the tsunga is not meant for all types, but all types wear it. I have had to quickly turn my head to hide my laughter when I’ve seen middle-age men exercising in their suits. Ah, the body beautiful! The ironic thing is that some of the younger guys who could actually carry off a Speedo are the ones who opt for the cooler surfer swim trunks. Where is the justice?
Oh, and just to add insult to Bas’ injury, Ginger coyly announced that when she takes swim lessons (starting next week), she’ll like her new bathing suit (a girls’ Speedo-style suit). We’ll see how this one plays out considering her fondness for the bikini.