Short Swimsuits and Consumer Confidence

To combat my female TV-watching companion’s unveiled appreciation of Don Draper’s lap-swimming prowess, I recently purchased one of those hip little designer swimsuits that are now back in vogue.

The inseam was promised at four inches but comes in at roughly zero. I’ve lost a few pounds so I feel OK about it, but I have to admit I’m a little nervous about flaunting my junk so publicly over a long weekend at a Southern California resort.

Great Shaquille's ghost, am I really going to try to pull this look off??


I imagine my low-slung drawers inspiring a poolside scenario such as this:

Female onlooker: “Look at that guy’s cute little swimsuit! (to boyfriend) Why don’t you take more fashion risks?”

Male onlooker: “Seriously?? That old guy? Total douchebag!”

FO: “Honey, don’t be jealous. I’m impressed that his female lounging companion has been able to get through to him so well.”

MO: “Right. He’s a douchebag and a pussy.”

While the swimsuit reflects my personal confidence in my recently slimmer figure (notably, it does nothing to cover up my expanding bald spot), consumer confidence sucks. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined this month, counter to economists’ prognostications for an uptick. As an Ohioan, I don’t really trust anything that anyone from Michigan says, but people pay attention to these data and markets move accordingly, so I have to tune in.

It’s no secret that our economic growth hinges upon consumer spending, although estimates of how much so are distorted by health care spending and the amount of crap Americans buy that isn’t made in the USA (read: everything we buy). In any case, for Peter to earn a few bucks to pay his mortgage banker Paul, we need consumers to grow a pair and start shelling out on goods and services. How exactly can we get people to spend money on the crap that our eminent ad men are pushing?

Although my superficial confidence is currently skyrocketing due to rapid weight loss, I was quite careful about how much I spent on my nifty little Steven Alan trunks, which I picked up for a song on Our fancy accommodations for this weekend were also purchased at a deep discount, a reflection that high-priced goods and services are not commanding “normal” demand. Good for me, bad for the economy. Which is bad for me. And you.

Consumer confidence is a fickle bitch. It can shift on a dime, and despite its classification as a leading indicator and the best efforts of the smart people behind the survey, consumers are inherently reactionary. I’m confident no one will laugh at me (out loud) as I prance around the pool this weekend, but I’m only doing it because I know at some point in the near future I’ll gain 30 pounds and be back to sporting circus-tent board shorts. I’m the male Oprah, after all.

It’s Friday night and I don’t want to wade too far into the muddy waters of the dismal science. That said, if I did, I’d look damn good doing it in my short shorts.

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