My undie drawer is filled with old, saggy panties. I became aware of this unseemly state of affairs when I was packing for a weekend away with my boyfriend. I looked forward to some time in the mountains with my honey, away from the chaotic fray of the suburbs. No wifi or TV, just a fireplace in a little log cabin; him, me, and unlimited quantities of red wine. How would we fill our time?
Saggy, old, thread-bare, sorry excuses for undergarments were all I could find. Even the ‘special occasion’ panties resembled the unwelcome guest who lingers too long after the party is over. This would require an emergency shopping trip, but what had happened to my panties!
Right now, the psychologists in the room are surmising my mental state. Surely, the dismal condition of the clothing that protects and covers the most intimate parts of my self is a reflection of a deeper issue. I must be depressed and/or have low self esteem.
At 42, I have some self-acceptance. I am not a model. I will never think that skinny feels better than any yummy, decadent, interesting, so good it makes you wet your underpants food tastes. If we wanted to go deeper on my relationship with food, we could blame my mother for being a great cook or rewarding good grades with trips to my favorite restaurant. But I own this body; I take full responsibility for its current shape. Mom never force fed me, I opened wide willingly. Unless it was lima beans.
Sure, there have been days in the two years since my dad died when I’ve struggled. Who wouldn’t?
I was fired just two months after he passed, kicked out of the event business after 15 years on a throne. At first, I was humbled by the masses filing for unemployment. Then the playing field leveled even further when I became a prep cook for a personal chef. Sprinkle a heaping scoop of ‘crazy, disturbed, emotionally detached man magnet’ and I certainly had grounds for blankets over the head kind of days. But that over-the-top, soap opera stuff has always happened and has never kept me down. It’s all just fodder for the book I will write someday about this John Hughes-like life of mine. Finances certainly influenced any influx of new skivvies, but there really was nothing subconscious about the condition of what I owned.
In my late 30s, I was teased by a guy for having the panties of a 16-year-old. Women my age wear silky, lacy, thongy stuff. Not me. I’m not a slave to fashion, so I went for sensible styles (not to be confused with ‘matronly’) that covered all the important parts. In their heyday, they had been vibrant, representing just about every color of the rainbow. Some had stripes or animal prints, some said things (“Girls love guys who play guitar”). Maybe the 16 year olds HE dated had collections like that, but at 16, my panties came in a 12-pack plastic bag from the grocery store. So what if I’ve been reclaiming my inner 16 year old through underwear? Unfortunately, these years later, my panty drawer had become the place where colors and elastic waistbands went to die.
I came by my saggy panties honestly. I was raised by a Depression baby (“make it last”), Scottish ancestry (cheap) dad. Growing up, thinking I needed something did not guarantee I was going to get it. I made the most of what I had, spent little energy complaining about what I didn’t, and learned to take care of my belongings. By carefully laundering and neatly folding and storing them, I have gotten almost 10 years out of my panties.
Perhaps there is a subconscious element to this. My world went completely upside down in the year after my father died, and maybe holding on to one little familiar, comfortable thing, helped in its own way. Every day, those well-worn panties literally had my backside. At a time when I really needed it, they took care of me.
When I returned from my trip, I disovered that commando is not a viable alternative for me, and attempted to do a panty purge on my saggy panty drawer. I was going to retire the tried and true for perky and pretty. My ass deserved to be clothed in sassy new colors, patterns and styles! Sadly, I have learned that quality underpants seem to be a thing of the past. Something has gone horribly awry in the panty-making industry. Nothing brand new should require repair after only one wash! Even name brands that were once reliable are not to be trusted.
I am not so easily discouraged by poor craftsmanship. I will press on until I find the panties that are worthy of my drawer. Until then, saggy panties live to fight another day.
Originally published on Elephant Journal.