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The Wardrobe Malfunction

April 4, 2015
(image via wikimedia)

(image via wikimedia)

I had heard about women’s wardrobe malfunctions before, but I’d never actually seen one, except the ones on television, and they didn’t count because they had probably been publicity stunts.  Yesterday, however, I saw my first real wardrobe malfunction.  A woman was standing waist deep in the water when a portion of her bikini slipped.

I was reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace at a beach-like environment (it wasn’t quite a beach, but it was similar in a lot of ways, and it was pretty crowded) while my wife and daughters were on water slides on the other side of the park.  I had found a wall and had placed my chair next to it so that nobody could sneak up behind me while I was reading and conk me on the head.  Maybe I’d still get conked.  No position to prevent getting conked on the head is foolproof, but at least if I got conked on the head, it wouldn’t have been from behind.

I normally wouldn’t read a book like Infinite Jest.  I don’t read books if they’re over 500 pages anymore (especially if they’re small print), but people keep saying Infinite Jest is great, I have to read it.  The problem is that if I don’t enjoy it or don’t finish it, then I’ll be accused of not getting it, and that pisses me off.  I can “get” a book and not want to finish it.  I haven’t read enough of Infinite Jest to know if I “get” it, but I’m sure I’ll “get” it either way.

Knowing I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on Infinite Jest at a beach-like environment (or almost any other environment), I also had a Bernard Cornwell novel about Saxons and Danes slaughtering each other.  I’m not sure what the title is because there are about ten of these books, and the author writes one or two of them a year.  I’m jealous because I’d like to rewrite the same book every year and have people just like me still read it.

I know I’m getting old when I start thinking about books when I should be discussing a wardrobe malfunction.

For some reason, I looked up just in time to see the malfunction.  The top strap of the woman’s bikini had slipped enough for lots of a forbidden body part to be seen.  I had time to avert my eyes, but I chose not to.  Surprisingly, I didn’t feel guilty watching.  I often feel guilt for things that aren’t my fault, but I didn’t feel any negative emotions about watching this.  She was in public wearing a tiny garment in a place where a malfunction was possible/likely.  I know, maybe I’m rationalizing, but I don’t feel guilt.

The woman with the malfunction didn’t seem concerned either.  She adjusted the string (or whatever it was), secured it, and then even started the whole process again, pulling the strap down so that the forbidden body part(s) could be seen again, seemingly unconcerned that anybody might be watching, and then she secured it again.  It was like she rewound the whole incident for me, and nobody else noticed.  Her friends didn’t squeal at her and point.  No guys yelled at each other to look.

I never should have seen this malfunction.  I was over 100 feet away with dozens of people between me and the wardrobe malfunction.  There was no way I should have had a clear shot of what happened.  The odds of me looking up at the time it happened without anybody walking or standing between me and the malfunction are impossibly small.

A part of me thinks I was meant to see this malfunction.  I have a recently deceased relative who (when he was alive) would have noticed a malfunction like this.  He then would have nudged me (or done whatever what was necessary) to get my attention.  The more I think about this, the more I believe this recently departed relative noticed this malfunction from wherever he is, and he went out of his way to arrange things so that I would see it.  He made me look up at the right time (“Hey, Jimmy, you gotta check this out!”), and he parted the crowds so that I could see.  It’s the only possible logical explanation.  This kind of luck just doesn’t happen.

I know I should be more appreciative.  I was taught to never criticize a gift or favor, and I hope I don’t sound ungrateful.  I’m glad my recently deceased relative thinks enough of me to come back down(?) and point out a wardrobe malfunction for me.  That was very thoughtful of him.  I’m just surprised that out of all things the recently deceased relative could point out to me, THAT was what motivated him to get my attention.  I mean, that’s what he would have done had he been alive, so I guess he’s consistent.  The woman with the malfunction is lucky because if my relative hadn’t been recently deceased, he would have videoed the malfunction and shared it.  I don’t condone that kind of behavior.  I’m glad he couldn’t do that (but that doesn’t mean I’m glad he’s deceased.).

If there was something wrong with me watching the malfunction, I’ve already been pre-punished.  My wardrobe malfunctions have been worse than what this woman experienced.  One day at work, I had dots on an inconvenient location of my light khakis and I didn’t notice until it was too late.  Nobody said anything, but I could tell from my co-workers’ eye contact and facial expressions that the dots in the inconvenient location had been noticed.  I wanted to proclaim, “It’s water.  I just washed my hands!”  But since my co-workers hadn’t said anything, it would have seemed too defensive of me to state my innocence when I hadn’t been officially accused of anything.

So yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have looked at the woman while she struggled with her wardrobe malfunction.  But those co-workers shouldn’t have stared at mine either.  At least the woman in the bikini could immediately fix her wardrobe malfunction when she noticed it.  Me?  I had to wait for the water to dry.

I promise, it was water.


What do you think?  Is Infinite Jest a must-read book?  Do you think there is such a thing as a must-read book? Have any deceased relatives ever come back and done you a favor? Are wardrobe malfunctions so common now that people don’t care about them anymore?  Is it wrong to watch a wardrobe malfunction from far away?  What kind of malfunction is worse, the bikini strip slip or dots on the khakis?


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  1. There is always a must to read book for everybody out there. I’m not sure about this one. Monokini (bare top) is not unusual in beaches here where I live and so does most of the beaches I’ve been in Spain and yes it’s family beaches and no one looks anymore.
    Do someone has to feel guilty looking at a wardrobe malfunction? Probably if one is looking too long accompanied by lusty thoughts.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure if Infinite Jest is a must-read book either, but I know I didn’t pick the right environment to read it in. Next time, I will go some place quiet where I don’t have to think about getting conked on the head or get distracted by wardrobe malfunctions.

  2. I have no idea, but I bet the poor woman was embarrassed.

    • She didn’t seem embarrassed (though I was pretty far away, and she might have been hiding it well). She just fixed the problem, and then she refixed it. She could have walked to a ladies room within 30 seconds to readjust the second time, but she did it all right there, and it all seemed casual.

      But I could be wrong.

  3. I haven’t read Infinite Jest, but if you get through it, let me know if it’s worthwhile. I hate to wait for hand dryers so I always wipe my hands on my pants, so I have that issue sometimes, where it looks like I wet my pants somehow.

    • Ha! If you wipe your hands, I guess you should wipe them on the sides.

      For me, it’s a combination of a spraying faucet and then splashing while I scrub my hands. If we had more hand dryers at work instead of paper towels, it might not be an issue.

      • Well yeah, I don’t wipe them on the front, more on the pockets…there was a funny Mr. Bean scene like that, where he splashes water on himself in the front.

  4. I read something recently about Infinite Jest being a book written for hipsters by a hipster. This something I read was all about how DFW was born to be a mathematician, not a writer, and was very bright and creative, but not that great a writer. It said he had interesting ideas conveyed via poorly written sentences and a book that had way too many words for the world we live in. That makes some sense to me. I’m not saying it’s right, just that it makes some sense to me. I saw DFW on Charlie Rose wearing his bandana and he looked very counter-culture and sounded intelligent, but I had lots of professors in college who were intelligent and also made us read books which weren’t written very well, some of which they wrote themselves. My point is, you can be brilliant, and you can be a hipster, and you can have lots of brilliant hipster fans, but that doesn’t make you a great writer. Being a hipster who writes doesn’t make you a great writer, and neither do interesting ideas, or even groundbreaking ones. They don’t even make you a good writer. Good writing is about the writing. If it’s interesting and hip, too, that’s a plus.

    • That makes a lot of sense. A few literary critics have said that even though it’s long, there aren’t any wasted words. I don’t know. I’ve read only a few pages and I already think there were wasted sentences.

      But I also go into hyper-critical mode sometimes if a book has been praised a lot. Maybe I should wait a while (to forget about the praise) before I begin reading again.

  5. That was really nice

  6. Thanks for the laugh!

  7. ramonawray permalink

    What a hilarious post 🙂 I wouldn’t have felt guilty about watching either, as it sounds like she was tempting the fate on purpose. Don’t know about Infinite Jest, my friends’ opinions are divided. But yeah, probably reading it at the beach was a tad on the ambitious side. Let me know what you think when/if you finish it. Have a great Sunday!

    • Have your friends with the divided opinions ever discussed it, or did your hear their opinions separately? I ask because sometimes discussions about literature can get just as contentious as arguments about politics.

      I don’t know if people who like Infinite Jest can get along with people who don’t like it, and I don’t want to find out the hard way if they don’t.

  8. Wow! You managed to write about a thousand words on a trivial wardrobe malfunction and made it sound interesting. That is what I call good writing, or is it guilty/curious me? The book, if it does not grab you is not worth it. Like my taste in art my taste in books is subjective. If it does not grab me in the first fifty pages, I am done with it. Back to the malfunction, if it is a normal beach and it is an accident, I would feel a little ashamed at looking I guess. In fact, reading about it, I was a little taken aback at my own prurient nature. Once on holiday I saw this woman on a normal beach stand up and turning shore wards shield her eyes and scan the horizon for some time. On her chest she displayed her two very large and very new body parts, completely uncovered. Although this was a wardrobe discard rather than a malfunction, I still felt guilty for staring at her.

    • Thank you. I would have been disappointed if I had written a thousand boring words about a wardrobe malfunction. I would have thought, how could I ruin that?

      As for your story, under normal circumstances, we’re supposed to treat it like the sun, glance but don’t stare. I heard that on a television show once, and it stuck with me.

  9. I’ve never heard the term “wardrobe malfunction” before. I’d have guessed it meant either a diy attempt gone wrong, when the wardrobe you’re building falls to pieces or the problem with finding the right item of clothing to match something or finding none of your clothes fit properly.
    btw I”ve never heard of “Infinite Jest” either!

  10. She clearly didn’t mind what she was showing, and she must have been in good shape to not bother with modesty or shame or humility, as I would have. Almost an invitation, I’d say. It wasn’t like you were a peeping Tom. It did bring to mind the time I waited tables and a man in a corner booth had his knee up while he studied, wearing OP shorts. A purple ball had evidently lobbed out, so I shared this info w/ my other waitresses. We wondered, how does one not feel wind upon oneself, or the stickiness of vinyl when one shifts? The point is, you probably enjoyed the view. We were both amused and a bit nauseated.

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  14. Methinks thee protests too much. 🙂

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