Tuesday, March 28, 2006


A single guy I know gets frequently depressed. He lives in Northern Ontario—sorry for the redundancy. He lives where the sun is rarely seen and the roads are so muddied and pot-holed that the local car dealership has three moon rovers on the lot.

This guy was once so depressed that he wanted to kill himself. He called me and fished covertly for an immediate remedy to his mental difficulty. Why did he call me of all Earth’s mortals? I am the great Martin Zender, confidant of God, holder of the keys to people’s happiness. Good thing, then, that I did have a remedy at hand. Some day people may recognize my wisdom and make me their first resort rather than their last. So I said to the man, “Go on the Internet and look at pictures of beautiful women in bikinis. Not pornography, just beautiful women in bikinis.” There was silence on the other side of the line. “The bikini was named after the atoll in the South Pacific where the first atomic bomb was detonated,” I continued into the silence. “When atom bombs are falling, people forget how depressed they are. It happens all the time. Imminent nuclear war and two-piece swimsuits take the male mind from all other problems.”

My friend was taken aback at first, but then warmed to the idea. Oh, but this wasn’t an idea—it was a cure. I told him that my simple solution would relieve him instantly. It would make him want to live again, at least for the rest of the afternoon. It was the free, legal, God-inspired solution to his problem. In some parts of the world, I told him, the sun actually reported for celestial duty. In some parts of the world, I said, beautiful women wore extremely small bathing suits.

He said, “You know, I do feel better when I look at a beautiful woman.”

Well, duh. Do I have to tell you to eat, too? Must I instruct you to bathe? To breathe?

The annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit expedition embarked upon by my two older sons and me raises the eyebrows of embarrassed/horrified people who may, in their lifetimes, have discussed sex once—with the obstetrician. The embarrassed/horrified people had sex because they have children, but “the dirty part” came and went in the dark and lasted as long as it took to disrobe and disburse seed. And God forgive all parties for what made the seed come out. And God forgive Himself for having invented beauty in the first place.

It is stupid, in my opinion, for fellow testosteronians to pretend among ourselves that we could take or leave the bikini and its inhabitant. The cover of this particular Sports Illustrated is an anomaly in the midst of an evil eon, for it opposes everything we know so far of this damned winter. I praise Jesus for that. To refuse to look at such respite is to spit in the face of God. It is to slap away a reasonably priced escape ladder dangled by the Deity’s celestial helicopter.

I will have no awkward moments with my sons. I refuse to allow into my home the time-tested “ignore sex/screw up your kids” syndrome. I refuse to slip on the divine banana peel (the bikini and its inhabitant) and then pretend that I didn’t. My boys are looking anyway, so why not accompany them, foot the bill and get shrimp out of it? The more normal I make it (and it is so very normal), the less powerful its pull. The bikini and its inhabitant will always pull, but one can diffuse the freak side of the power. Religious people habitually make normal things freakish by silently (or vocally) condemning natural inclinations. This is a recipe for the production of criminals. The criminal starts and may finish in the closet. At worst, he wreaks mayhem among the less religious (and thus, the less peace-loving) citizenry. I prefer a nice quiet trip to Waldenbooks—followed by cheese rolls and shrimp—to abandoned carnal mayhem followed by an i.d. check at the state penitentiary.

Some very ingenious people designed the swimsuits worn by the SI models.

In some other corner of the world, the sun, apparently, has escaped its box.

© 2006 by Martin Zender