Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No end in sight

There're always people who think the end of the world is imminent. We used to see cartoons of guys with wild hair and beards, dressed in robes and sandals, wearing sandwich boards that proclaimed THE END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR. Sometimes it's hard to take their fervor seriously.

A local group is claiming they can feel the hot breath of God on our necks because gay people want to be married. If it isn't war news from some faraway place it's crime at home. It's Internet porn; it's the drug problem; it's the economy, stupid. It's like Roseanne Roseannadanna: "It's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another thing." They read signs of the end just like ancient sorcerers read the entrails of goats.

In 1964 I remember the Apocalyptic types going after the topless bathing suit. If you remember that you're as old as I am, or maybe you heard about it. In the year of the Beatles and Hard Day's Night, Johnson and Goldwater, Civil Rights marches, and the heating of the Vietnam conflict, here came a simple swimsuit that caused people to say it was the end of the world. I turned 17 that year, and still young and naive enough to think that when other people said it, especially people who I thought had more experience than me, that maybe, just maybe, they knew something I didn't. So I remember a few stabs of guilt that I was very curious about what designer Rudi Gernreich foisted on the public that caught their imagination in such a way. I was halfway sure it would bring about God's punishment in some awesome and awful way, just like the religious people were saying.

If you look at the suit in this famous photo of model Peggy Moffitt, you see it exposes the breasts, but covers expansively the rest of her naughty parts. Her navel doesn't show. Many swimsuits over the years have exposed much more, especially in the lower area, than the Gernreich suit. But it was one of those things that caught public attention and for a time caused a firestorm of controversy and talk. It also caused some public officials in places worldwide to enact ordinances that prohibited wearing the suit on a public beach.

All I can say is the folks who got upset about the topless swim suit--and it upset me, in a horny teenage boy sort of way--should have looked 45 years into the future and they would have seen that not only did the world not end, things got much, much sexier.

1 comment:

Si's blog said...

I remember when those things came out. I was not a horny teenage boy at that point, horny husband and father of a growing family. Jerry Falwell (I lived in Lynchburg then) said these would bring the end of the world but Jerry eneded before the world did.