Colorado is, after all, a landlocked state. Perhaps I should have considered this before attempting the quest I did on that warm winter day, but then again, sometimes you don't get to pick your quests. Your quests pick you.

I'd realized the shaggy state of my exercise swimsuit while I was in Colorado, and thought that since it was the off-season, I might be able to find a reasonably-priced swimsuit while I was on vacation. This, of course, led to the uttering of the World's Worst Sentence, which I knew better than to say but said anyway:

"How hard can this be?"

I dug around in the apartment until I found a phone book. "Swimwear." Yep, that was easy. Oh, look! A shop that specialized in swimwear, said they had plus sizes (which according to some manufacturers I still wore), and which carried mix-and-match separates? Perfect.

I called for directions, and was told they even had a sale bin that I could root through to try to find pieces that fit me exactly. So I got in my car and drove. Tiny little shop, not far from the university. Lots of unnaturally-blonde women paying for tanning. Something was not right with this picture, but I wasn't quite sure what.

I found the sale bins, and began to rummage. They were roughly sorted by type of piece, so I methodically sorted each bin, looking for the sizes that I was most likely to be able to wear. Those pieces meeting first muster I sorted by whether they were tops or bottoms. Twenty minutes later, when I was done, I began going through the two stacks to try to match up tops and bottoms to create complete outfits.

By the time it was over, I had a few. Maybe four. They weren't bad. A couple were cute, bordering on hot. I walked up to the girl at the front desk (believe me when I say that she did not have enough years under her belt to qualify being referred to as a 'woman') and asked if I could try on the swimsuits.

She looked at me as if I had a third eye growing out of my forehead. "You know, we don't get asked that question a lot." (Again with the warning bells going off. I really wished someone would shut the silly things off; it was getting hard to hear.)

I tried on the suits one at a time. Didn't like, wrong fit, hey, wait a second…

I stared in the mirror for a moment and realized that I was standing in the world's tiniest dressing room, whose door was held shut only by a proppable wooden gargoyle, and that I was missing something terribly, painfully obvious here. I was standing there in a two-piece swimsuit that didn't quite fit correctly and reached behind me to confirm my suspicions.

Yep. All I had to do was nudge the back clasp of the top half of the swimsuit, and the whole thing practically sprang off of my body. Why would…? It didn't seem sensible to me for a swimsuit to be so easily undone, much less worthwhile. True, I greatly enjoyed visiting with the lifeguards at Dublin Park, but I had trouble believing they wanted to encourage swimming wardrobe malfunctions.

I got dressed, grabbed the handful of Cute Little Swimsuits in my hand, and walked up front to speak with the Resident Blonde. "Hi. I think I've got a bit of a problem here. These seem a little flimsy. I do a lot of lap swimming, and I just don't think these are going to work. Any suggestions?"

She looked at me with one of the most baffled - dare I say dumbfounded? - looks I have received in my entire adult life, and uttered the following words:

"You mean you want to swim in your swimsuit?"

Now, let's just stop right there. Just stop. Stop and think about this, roll it around in your head for a minute or two and consider exactly what the hell is going on in that question. I'll even italicize the appropriate words for those of you who didn't catch it the first time:

"You mean you want to swim in your swimsuit?"

You'll all be pleased to know that I blurted out the one and only POSSIBLE response to her question: "What the hell else would you use a swimsuit for?"

She cocked her head to the side, a motion which I think was supposed to artfully toss her hair over her shoulder, and said, "Well, honestly, most of our customers just buy swimsuits to tan in. I don't think any of them actually swim in them." She turned to the girl working the other register and asked, "So if she wanted to get a swimsuit to actually swim in, where should she go? I know we don't have anything for that."

The other girl suggested a sporting goods store.

I thanked them for their time, politely placed the nonswimmingsuits back in the appropriate bins, and tried to run screaming out of the store without actually running or screaming. Mostly I just mouthed the words "oh my God" over and over.

A week or so later, I bought a real swimsuit -- and yes, my freckly chubby untanned ass actually swims in it. It has an industrial-strength halter top and probably the most conservative, least sexy bottom half you've ever seen, and there's absolutely no way it'll ever unintentionally disgorge 'the girls' during a 45-minute swim, either.

I consider this a good thing.