Inspired by America’s domination in Olympic swimming, I imagine thousands of Americans are now flocking to department stores to buy the latest in ultra-tiny, ultra-skimpy Speedo swimwear. Sales of Speedos spike following both the 2008 and 2012 games. This year, roughly 9 out of 10 gold medal swimmers wore Speedos. The lone holdouts wore either cargo shorts or Dockers.
Americans, and American men, in particular, are drawn to success stories, especially in the sports realm. NFL clothing is a billion dollar business because fans love to shell out $100 or more to wear the “official” colors and numbers of their favorite player. The theory being: “If I can’t be on the gridiron, I might as well look the part.” Minus, of course, the ketchup, mustard, and nacho cheese stains, as well as the rolls of fat extending from beneath those XXXL jerseys.
But here’s the thing: while it’s excusable for a beer-guzzling dude to emulate his favorite linebacker or star running back by wearing a team jersey, it is completely inexcusable (and simply gross) to emulate a gold-medal swimmer by traipsing around the community pool in a pair of Speedos.
An oversized NFL jersey is designed to mask our affinity for 32 ounce Bud Lights, super nachos and soft pretzels the size of sub-compact hybrid. The wearer of an NFL jersey is saying to himself: “If given the chance, I could run a 4.4 40 yard dash and be a first-team All-Pro linebacker.” The rest of us look at him and say to ourselves: “It would take this guy at least a half day to complete a 40-year dash…and for God’s sake, start wearing a bib.”
A Speedo, on the other hand, hides nothing and reveals more than anybody should ever need to see under any circumstance. An American man wearing a Speedo is saying to his delusional self: “Oh yeah, the ladies are lovin’ this package.” The rest of us, particularly the ladies who did not divert their eyes in time to avoid witnessing this ghastly horror, are saying in their best Dr. Phil impersonation: “What were you thinking dude?”
I specify “American” men because somehow European guys can get away with wearing Speedos. Part of the reason is that European guys do not “Sonic” at least once a day like their American counterparts. European guys are also more comfortable with their body hair and seem to appreciate how it accentuates their gold jewelry. European guys are more aware, more at ease with their sexuality. Thus, when wearing Speedos, they don’t walk, they preen, cognizant that women, especially American women, are likely fantasizing what it would be like to live with Gaspar in the south of France, leaving Norman to raise their four snot-nosed brats alone.
I went through a Speedo phase many years and twice as many pounds ago. I’m not sure what I was thinking, what prompted this momentary flight of delusion. I was at some Caribbean resort and probably thought: “When around European men….” I walked out to the pool deck and instantly felt as if all eyes were focused on me, and not in a good way. I swear I heard people saying to each other: “That poor man must have a rare disease preventing the growth of body hair.” My European brethren proudly preened in their Speedos, like peacocks during mating season. I, on the other hand, lumbered, slouched as I walked, fully aware that I was disrupting the forces of nature. Desperate, I jumped into the pool to hide my insignificance. I suspect someone, perhaps one of the Euro-studs in a moment of compassion, complained about my shameful, egregious display because two lifeguards jumped into the pool and held me underwater until I agreed to leave the pool area. That was the last time I wore a Speedo.
So, guys, I know we are all proud of how Michael Phelps and the Americans dominated the swim competition in Rio. But here’s the deal: if your idea of swimming is laying on a floaty thing with a Bud Light in the little cup holder, or if it takes you an hour or more to swim the 100-meter freestyle, PLEASE don’t try to emulate your swimming heroes by buying a Speedo. Do us all a favor and pick up a couple of pairs of drawstring swim trunks from Old Navy. Or, better yet, just throw on your mustard-stained NFL jersey, go to a tailgate party and skip the pool altogether.
NOTE: Since I first drafted this post earlier this week, Speedo announced it was terminating its sponsorship agreement with American swimmer Ryan Lochte for being a complete and total ass. I’d like to use this post to suggest Speedo sponsor me with the money saved after sacking Lochte (hell, I’d take a 10th of what they were paying that idiot!). Despite what I said above, I’m sensing this could be a marketing coup for Speedo. I’m the kind of below average, no-talent guy to whom the average American dude can relate. I could be, to competitive swimming, what Donald Trump has been to presidential politics. In fact, with the proper diet and training, I think I can be ready for the 2020 Olympics, where I could anchor our 4X100 dog paddle team. I’ve been on Weight Watchers over the past few months and believe I’m starting to border on the outside possibility of looking moderately svelte (well, maybe less chunky); exactly what Speedo is looking for in a male spokesperson. So, Speedo, have your people call my people.