Saturday, May 26, 2018
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S. Amjad Hussain


Scenes at a water park: swimwear, tattoos, and tenderness

Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, my family and I like to spend a few days away from home. We enjoy each other’s company in different surroundings.

This year, we went to the Kalahari Indoor Water Park Resort near Sandusky, about an hour’s drive east of Toledo. It is a place where people of all ages have fun with water activities.

Water always has held sway for mankind. Maybe it is the metaphysical connection with a remote past, when 440 million years ago we crawled out of the deep blue as primitive marine animals to continue our climb on the evolutionary ladder.

Perhaps in the deepest recesses of our primitive brain, we still have the vestiges of an encoded memory of our early evolutionary history that attracts us to water.

Water has a calming effect on people of all ages. I am not an enthusiast of water sports, so I spent my time reading, writing, and observing.

At Kalahari, one sees much natural beauty. One also sees beautifully toned bodies that are the result of considerable personal care, exercise, and diet restraint. These are mostly young people who pay attention to their lifestyles.

Then there are others, not so young, who believe that the Good Lord has given us mortals many pleasures, one of the most important of which is food. When we grow older, food tends to replace other indulgences. This becomes readily evident when people cast off their outer garments and don swimming attire.

Speaking of swimwear, it is interesting how the swimsuit has evolved over the past two centuries. The timeline between a layered full-body swimming garment and a string bikini covers some 200 years. It gives us a chronological history of the avant-garde as chronicled by Hollywood movies.

The likes of Betty Grable, Elizabeth Taylor, and Farrah Fawcett reassured us that it is OK to show a little more skin and still be innocent and beautiful. The trend toward skimpier suits has brought us to the much-awaited annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Enter the burqini into the mix. Its name is a combination of burqa and bikini. This new type of swimsuit is a whole-body garment not unlike a body suit that divers wear, only more attractive, in eye-catching fabrics and designs.

It covers the entire body except the face, hands, and feet. For some orthodox Muslim women, it fulfills the requirement of Islamic dress. There were quiet a few women in burqinis splashing around at Kalahari.

I was also struck by the abundance of tattooed bodies at the park. Men far exceed women when it comes to body decoration, in my observation.

For some men, the expansive nature of the tattoos was intriguing and mind-boggling. Other than the usual angry reptiles and fire-breathing dragons, there were some tattoos that made personal statements such as “I love Muffin” or “I love Brandy.”

One never knows whether it is the expression of one’s taste in a particular pastry or special liquor, or whether it was meant to be a public commitment to a woman by the name of Muffin or Brandy. I had the good sense not to ask whether the young ladies accompanying the male billboards were named Muffin or Brandy.

Once, I made a mistake of addressing the wife of a trauma patient by what I had deduced to be her name. Tattooed all over her husband’s extremities — and on some delicate parts — was one emphatic and unequivocal refrain: My Only Love Tina. She told me her name was not Tina.

Children were the most delightful part of the scene at Kalahari. From tiny tots to older children, they acted as kids act: squealing spontaneously, screaming when a reason presented itself, and expressing the uninhibited joy that only children are capable of expressing. The kids certainly added a colorful and whimsical dimension to the kaleidoscope.

There were many grandparents at the park as well. Often, one saw a grandfather or a grandmother holding the little finger of a little one to lead the way toward a kiddie pool. If a scene such as that doesn’t raise a sagging spirit, tug on heartstrings, and bring a smile even to a dour face, I do not know what does.

Kalahari is a huge stage where all of us, from tiny tots to aging parents and grandparents — the seven ages of man’s life immortalized by Shakespeare in As You Like It — played our parts according to our own script, and had fun doing it.

Dr. S. Amjad Hussain is a retired Toledo surgeon whose column appears every other week in The Blade.

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