The underside of a horseshoe crab is so vulnerable. Turn one over and all the segmented legs grab at the air. Thin plates cover its gills. Two short pincers flank the tiny mouth. On the outer dorsal side, the crab is well-armored, but the underside is unprotected by the shell.
As a girl spending summers at the New Jersey shore, I felt that my undersides–in particular, my scar–were exposed to all even though no one could see my belly. The straps of my bathing suit loosened when they got too wet or when I jumped too roughly in the waves, so I was constantly retying them. What if the straps came undone and the top part of the suit fell to my waist? I would suddenly be exposed, my scar available to public scrutiny. Thankfully my problem was solved when a new style of suit came into vogue.
As a seven-year-old, my new black bathing suit, what was called a tank suit, was my armor, my shell. The stretchy material was of a whole piece; the straps would not suddenly come undone! It was more like a leotard. I could make any move and the suit remained faithful. An added bonus was that the suit had three white buttons, large like a clown’s, which sat just over the scar on my belly. This placement was somehow comforting. The buttons connected me to my scar in a fun, secret kind of way. I felt powerful. The clue was right out there, but only I knew what was under those buttons! The tank suit kept my secret. We were collaborators. I loved how I looked and felt in that suit!