The quest

Drive-through mail boxes prove pretty handy.

Drive-through mail boxes prove pretty handy–nice touch, America.

Despite America’s reputation as the land of ease–fast food, drive-through banks, electric can-openers–some things can still be surprisingly hard to achieve.

Such as buying a pair of swimming trunks (though make sure you say swim shorts otherwise confusion is guaranteed).

My swimmers have somehow shredded themselves (I suspect the drying machine in the gym that wrings them out for you post swim was responsible) and so I set off to buy a new pair.

First I went to that monolithic purveyor of everything under the sun: Target. No swimmers.

I enquired of a Target shop assistant where else I might obtain some swimming trunks, I mean swim shorts.

“Carry on down the road, sir, to Academy sports.”

“Oh, great, thanks.”

“My pleasure, sir.”

I pulled up to Academy sports, another monolithic construction devoted to sports, so my chances seemed to have improved.

After twenty minutes of wandering around aisles of every sport item apart from swimming trunks, I sought assistance.

“I’m not sure if we have them, sir; let me take you to someone in apparel.”

“Err, okay.”

He took me to the fitting rooms.

“Hey ladies, this young man (that threw me, too, I was more than 10 years older than the guy; must be my sunny disposition) is looking for swim shorts.”

One teenager shook her head, explaining: “Out of season.”

But the other seemed to brighten: “We do have the Speedo type.”

A moment of silence ensued.

She looked at me. I looked at her. She raised her eye brows hopefully, giving a nervous half smile.

I shook my head slowly.

“That’s not going to work.”