There are several reasons why a man can’t buy swimwear, and especially not Speedos. 1) Men don’t know how to shop for anything other than razor blades and tools. 2) When it comes to swimsuits, they have no conception of style.

There are only two types of men who should wear Speedos: Olympic swimmers and toddlers. But sadly, our world is filled with egomaniacs in total denial. Such is my friend, Jane’s husband, Jack, a nice man with a good head on his shoulders, who can make predictions in the stock market that guarantee instant success. Yet, when it comes to Jack’s sense of style, he doesn’t get it. You see, Jack is not exactly male model material. He is rather bald, rotund and sports a potbelly, which, although Jane defines as “adorable,” has no business being publicly displayed. In short, Jack ought to keep his portly bod under wraps. But because Jane continues to flatter Jack, she has created a monster, who now thinks he is god’s gift to women.

Case in point: a recent Caribbean cruise for which Jack purchased an entire line of Speedos. One afternoon while Jane was sitting poolside, Jack appeared in a form-fitting Speedo, cut so low that one could actually see, if observing Jack from the rear: butt cleavage. If one surveyed Jack from the front, it was an altogether different story. Jack’s hairy chest and well-endowed belly graced the scene and, to put it bluntly, Jack looked rather like a member of the ape family. The only difference being, that an ape knows better than to don a Speedo, and does not consider himself a stud muffin. An ape knows he is an ape. Not Jack. He paraded himself around the ship’s deck telling those who were polite enough to listen, that he had just lost 20-pounds on the cabbage soup diet, and didn’t he look svelte?

I have seen Jack in his Speedo, and I’m here to tell you that cabbage soup aside, he did not look svelte. Nor did he turn any heads except the ones that turned away in disgust for having to witness the sight of a man acting out his rendition of male menopause.

My cousin, Elaine and her husband, Ira, believe that when it comes to beach attire, anything goes. Elaine has been wearing string bikinis since she left college forty years ago. Similarly, Ira has a collection of bikinis that rival Elaine’s. They range from hot pink to panther black, the latter of which would cause cardiac arrest to any panther forced to catch a glimpse.

“I save my hot pinks for the middle of summer,” Ira once told me. “That way, I have time to develop my tan. Do you know what a hot pink bikini does for a man with a tan? It exudes sexuality,” As he spoke, I tried envisioning Ira, not only in hot pink, but also as a sex symbol. Ira may be many things: a brilliant ophthalmologist, an excellent husband and father, but a sex symbol he is not.

Similarly Jack, like Ira, should have known better than to sport a Speedo, but there he sat in his deck chair, sunscreen smeared on his nose, flip-flops on his feet, wearing a flamingo-motif bikini.

Even worse, he had asked Jane to go shopping with him while he modeled suits in all patterns, and designs. First came the stripes, and then the prints, followed by the pumpkin-colored flamingo bikini, which the salesman said, gave Bob that tropical look.

“Face it, Jane said, “you’re just not the Speedo type.”

“What type am I?” he asked.

“You’re more of an ‘undercover’ man. One who looks better in clothes than without them”

He wouldn’t speak to Jane for a week.

Apparently, on their cruise, Jane and Jack made a pact: if he didn’t bring along the flamingo bikini, she wouldn’t wear her gold lame gown with the feather boa and gold stiletto high heels. They would practice safe dressing, and present themselves as an understated, well-bred couple, who knew the fashion score. Instead, they packed matching beige Bermuda shorts, a couple of T-shirts and very conservative swimsuits. Jack, however, who had just had hair implants, was feeling rather frisky. He was the first one at the pool every morning so he could impress a group of American Airlines flight attendants, aboard the ship. He also appeared at Bouillon Break looking astonishingly vulgar with a gold medallion around his neck.

“You have to admit one thing,” Jack told Jane “I’m a gutsy guy. What would you say if I got a diamond belly button stud?”

“Before or after I threw you overboard?” Jane asked.

Judith Marks-White is a Westport writer. She can be reached at joodth@snet.net or at www.judithmarks-white.com.