I have zero fashion sense, and a good excuse. A writer's life permits wearing yesterday's clothes today and possibly tomorrow. I'd be completely at ease in a remote village where sweatpants and fuzzy slippers represent haute couture.
For the rare video conference, I make the effort to wash my face and run a brush through my hair. No one ever sees to notice the men's flannel PJ bottoms hiding under the desk.
Sadly, my undergarments compliment the daily ensemble. My decision to wear uni-boob shaping sports bras and high-rise cotton panties, explains my husband's obsession with Victoria's Secret catalogs. Thankfully, the mailman delivers two dog-eared copies per week.
A part of me desires to be more feminine, but just how does an older gal find comfort and style at Wal-Mart that is also pleasing to her man?
Catalog shopping for intimate apparel is a struggle for me. My dresser drawers are a testament to bad decisions which stemmed from good intentions. Lace bras, bikini panties and hold-in-the-fat, rhymes with No Thanx unmentionables. I'm hesitant to donate these items to some third world country lest giving them another reason to despise Americans.
The mall, with its spider web layout, crowds of rabid shoppers and greasy food courts frigtens me more than the paparazzi showing up at my gynecologist appointment.
Clearly, I need a fashion intervention.
Since this is the Chinese year of the horse, meaning to make unremitting efforts to improve oneself, I headed to the mall in search of style, made in China. Passing quickly by the lingerie shop I made a beeline to purchase another pair of jeans in the same style I already own. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, mine will be in baby steps.
In the jeans store, a fellow shopper caught my attention when she squatted to thumb through a mound of skinny jeans. She wore a short leather skirt and black high-heeled boots that emphasized her rather long legs. A peach-colored cashmere sweater with a deep V-neck revealed two ample and delightfully perky breasts. I barely noticed the gold crucifix strung around her neck.
Her shoulder length hair was a warm shade of chestnut highlighted with honey. It was folded back in a loose chignon with curled tendrils. Her make-up was "daytime", a barely there airbrushed look that accentuated her delicate features. She was about my age, but in a fashion sense, light years ahead.
My uni-boob sagged in shame.
Then, as she reached further into the stack of jeans, her sweater rose to reveal the small of her bare backside. I came face-to-face with the T-shape of a black lace thong that both irritated and intrigued me. This woman was my age. In a thong. My loins itched with envy.
In the moment it took to think, My God her thong matches her boots , she twirled around (she twirled I tell you!) And met my gaze. Rather than yelling for security, as any sane stalked person would do, she smiled politely and standing up, without effort. Pretty, perky, and fit.
"Hi, I'm Pamela." She said this showing perfect, bleached teeth.
I hated her instantly.
I'll give Pamela this: she had a talent for spotting the obvious. Her eyes lit up like she had just discovered the meaning of all reality makeover shows and I swear there were tears of joy in her eyes. I was unmolded clay. Her style challenge.
She took me by the elbow and as we sashayed across the mall into the lingerie shop, I casually introduced myself using a fake French name, Collette.
Pamela selected an array of panties and matching bras, gathering a pile in her arms. The Undergarment Queen of All Things Lace and Frilly. I was but a pawn in her kingdom.
"Hold out your hands," she said ever so sweetly, and presented me with five panties and coordinating bras. Black lace, white lace, demi-cup, and a thong!
Pamela studied my chest as if splitting my uni-boob into two were some complex physics equation. Then she chose a full coverage bra off the rack. I felt she made a concession and it pained her.
"Try on the cheekini panty," she said with a wink.
The tag read: A mesh silhouette kissed with lace and lots of cheek peek.
She displayed its special feature: "Look at the cute keyhole in the back."
I snorted through my nose in attempt to control the laughter. "It has a lock?" I asked.
Her comeback was encouraging.
"It's very flirty," she said, "and makes you feel all ss-sexy ." Sensing my hesitation she added, "Change is good, right?" and pulled out my pony tail before patting my hair.
Ah, yes, the year of the horse. Kind of how I grasp holding a wad of lace that if sewn together might make a nice doily for a hooker's nightstand.
In the dressing room Pamela whispered: "Do not you feel completely different?"
"Wee" I mumbled. That's "yes" in a fake French accent.
I did appreciate Pamela's enthusiasm and guidance in helping me improve myself. But pulling strips of lace over a fifty year old butt felt as disastrous as reaching my hand in the garbage disposal, while it was running. The anticipation alone killed me.
Thankfully my new friend needed to hurry up to catch a Zumba class.
"Enjoy," she chirped, quite satisfied with her accomplishment. "I hope you get lucky!"
Once she was out of sight, I exited the store empty handed and headed to Target, where I belonged. And I did get lucky. There was a BOGO on cotton Fruit of the Looms. The cover your entire ass, make your grandma proud, kind of bloomers. In multi colors.
Somewhere in the distance I think I heard Pamela (if that is her real name) whimper in defeat.
With six pairs of no-itch undies in the bag, there was one stop left before heading down the driveway home. The mailbox.
And there it was. All ss-sexy with lots of cheek peek. A new dog-eared Victoria's Secret catalog.
That should make one man very happy.
"Tray Ben." That's fake French for "one happy couple."