Catsuit Catastrophe

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Everyone should have a friend like Martha. Dynamic and gutsy, she’s ahead of her time.

She was drinking coconut water back when people thought it grew on trees. If she hadn’t introduced me to wine bars I’d still be in the kitchen peeling potatoes at 5.30pm.

As we clinked glasses at her favourite haunt the other evening, conversation turned to Madonna’s bum. A rear end like that is the hard-earned product of countless workouts harmonised with the surgeon’s art. We agreed Madonna (57 – they always mention her age) had every right to steal the show at the Met Gala exposing her buttocks through that racy pantsuit.

Martha’s eyes sparkled as a glamorous young woman strode past us in what amounted to a glittery black swimsuit.

“Isn’t it great catsuits are back?” Martha gushed.

I responded with an involuntary shudder.

“Didn’t you love wearing them?” she asked, incredulous.

The catsuit was the bane of my teenage life. The only reason I wanted one was because of an S&M lesbianesque fixation with Diana Rigg, the actress who played Emma Peel in The Avengers.

Sleek and sexy in her spray-on leather pantsuit, Diana pounced across our black and white television screen like the lady panther I longed to be. I loved the way she tossed male villains over her shoulder and left them in crumpled heaps.

My bedroom wallpaper was smothered with photos torn from magazines – Diana, arms crossed gazing sternly at the camera, or leaning nonchalantly across the bonnet of a Jaguar.

Chances of meeting her were zero. But if I could stop ordering cream donuts from the school cafeteria and persuade my parents to sign me up for Judo, I thought there could be a chance of becoming a Diana clone.

When Mum asked what I wanted for my birthday, she seemed perplexed when I showed her a photo of Emma Peel’s catsuit. She shoved her glasses up her nose and said she could probably run one up on her machine.

A few weeks later, I arrived home from school to find a strange garment arranged on top of my bedspread. Made of heavy red and blue fabric, it had full-length sleeves, a pointed collar and a long navy zip down the front.

Dismayed, I held it up to examine the floor length, bell-bottom pants that were attached to the torso. Mum’s inspiration had sprung more from Popeye than my leather clad goddess.

I slid into the thing and examined the mirror. Squeezed into Mum’s pantsuit, my bum seemed the size of Jupiter. The bell-bottoms flapped against my legs. Plunged into the depths of adolescent misery, I realised I’d never be Emma Peel.

Martha’s voice jolted me into the present. The only thing she hadn’t liked about wearing catsuits, she said, was going to the loo. She asked if I remembered how awkward it was, practically stripping every time.

I nodded and wondered aloud if Madonna had endured the same inconvenience at the Met Gala. Martha assured me the technology has improved. If anyone knows, she would.


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