Hot town, summer in the city! Well… not quite yet, but the words ‘beach’ and ‘roof terrace’ are gradually beginning to creep into conversation, and today I caught a little whiff of that Barcelona summer smell that envelopes the city during the season (you know the one, smells like baking drains.) Also, when it reaches 19 degrees in Liverpool, herds of people flock to the local beer garden wearing nothing but their shortest shorts, a bikini top and a pair of roy bons (you really do have to take advantage of 8 day summers.)
Summer in Barcelona is fantastic, however the closer it gets the more often you hear people whispering the phrase of dread, the phrase that puts a rapid feeling of panic in your heart and a quiver in your knees, the phrase that makes even the most self-confident individual want to sit cradling their knees, rocking backwards and forwards in the corner of the room. Yes that’s right, you’ve got it, it’s ‘operación bikini’
It seems like everyone’s doing it, trying to lose a few pounds and tone those abs before we have to bare our bodies to the population of Barceloneta beach (everyone in Barcelona?) We all want to look like Halle Berry as we wade elegantly out of the water, we all hum the Baywatch theme tune in our heads as we run along the sand (just me?) and we all envy that girl at the gym with the perfect body, the one who doesn’t even break into a sweat at spin class. (If you don’t, you’re that girl. Congratulations, please don’t sit next to me on the beach.) I’d class my confidence levels as medium, but the thought of that first trip to the beach, uncovering my milk bottle belly for the world to see was sending a shiver down my spine.
I was preparing. Last week I panic gymed four times and scoured the internet for the perfect bikini, I had flashbacks of this time last year were I was doing exactly the same thing. And then I remembered that first beach day…
It was baking, Barceloneta was jam packed with hot rollerblading couples, cute boys with cute dogs and pink British tourists wearing socks and caps. I was with some friends, we dug a big hole and dipped our feet in it to feel the cold sand at the bottom, I ate a whole bag a Cheetos and we took it in turns to paddle in the sea while one of us stayed on the sand to mind the bags (the joys of living in the pick pocketing capital). Not once did I think about my snow white belly (except to lather it in factor 50 of course) and not once did I want to be Halle Berry, because the truth is when you’re focusing on walking out of the sea in a straight line (does anyone else have trouble with that?) you really don’t have time to dig giant holes, and I’m guessing a whole bag of Cheetos is also off the menu.
So is ‘operación bikini’ really just a big waste of time? Well, obviously, it’s nice to feel good at the beach, but if what makes you feel good is acting like a 6 year old, building sand castles and burying your friend while she’s asleep then I’d say that losing those few extra pounds and worrying about tanning your un-tannable calves might be a waste of time. Because, maybe, instead of worrying about our not-so-super-toned tushes it’s time to remember what the beach is all about, and it’s certainly not all about having the perfect body, no matter what Baywatch led us to believe.