The only lingerie I own is from leftover costumes I’ve kept from my high school theater performances. I’ve never worn it off-stage, but it has hung in my closet for 20 years, somehow making the to-pack box as I’ve moved to and from countries and from one coast to the next.
I guess I figured I’d grow into it. Time would surely present the opportunity to need lingerie. And then boy, would I be angry if I gave away all that free loot from the mothball-ridden hoarder’s paradise that was my high school wardrobe room. But as the years ticked on, the need never came.
I’ve never understood lingerie. Why put something on for the sole purpose of taking it off again? That just equals more laundry. I hate the premise of needing two separate forks for salad and steak. Did no one think of the dishwasher? Wasn’t this whole lingerie thing just another superficial enhancement resulting only in additional chores?
Then again, I don’t do the laundry. My husband does. And perhaps he wouldn’t mind one extra article of clothing.
A greater reason that I’ve never felt comfortable in lingerie is that I was introduced to it at 14, when I wore it in a school comedy onstage for all my peers to watch and sneer at. And then, somehow, I found myself in lingerie in nearly every comedy in which I was cast from then on. I associate lingerie with voyeuristic, acne-covered pubescent boys. I associate it with comedy, with being a joke.
But comedy and jokes have always been a part of embracing the naughty. Which is why I took my hilarious friend Liz with me to the lingerie store this past week. Turns out I did age into it — or at least the idea of it — and the old theater teddies still smelled like, well, a high school theater.
We headed over to the only specialty store in town, where parking was exclusively in the back. The mannequins in the window boasted Pride get-ups that resembled something more like what an enthusiastic early-morning running group wears than anything enticing. (Perhaps it would feel more enticing if I found the idea of running enticing.) Inside, the colors muted to whites, blacks and reds. We entered in the clothing department, and the further back into the specialty store we strolled, the more specialty the products became.
This was a surprise to me — but it was also a delight because I was there with Liz. Also in the store were three men, shopping alone, and a group of young women purchasing for a bachelorette party. The conversations among the giddy group of 20-somethings and the one I was having could not have been more different. Life in a lingerie shop after a long marriage and kids presents different appeals.
“Oh, good. It’s crotchless,” Liz said, holding up a teddy. “If I have to go through the extra effort to put something on, you know I’m gonna be too tired to pull it off again.”
Fishnet stockings? You know my kids are going to find those, think it’s a cool snakeskin costume and get their heads stuck in a leg.
Fuzzy handcuffs? Not unless we get a maid first. There’s no way we’re keeping track of that key in my busy house.
Edible underwear? Look at how many carbs are in it. I’m not breaking my diet for that wannabe Fruit Roll-Up.
The bachelorette party purchasers looked at us appalled. They would never age to be so pathetic. Two of the men laughed with us. One man in particular started following us around just so he could hear what we were saying, laughing hysterically at our commentary. I’ll bet all my money that man has children. And a tired wife.
That’s when the store clerk came up to us and asked us to treat the store like a library. “No talking. You have no right to judge people in here.”
“I hold zero judgment,” I said. “If you listened to anything we are saying, you’d know we are clearly judging ourselves.”
The specialty store librarian thought we needed to open our minds a bit and tried to pull us into the porn section. We resisted. But en route, we passed the cutest lingerie.
It’s hanging in my closet next to the rest.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book “Stop Farting in the Pyramids.”