Thursday, June 19, 2008

Underwear Obsession

This morning I was putting my clean panties into their proper place in the proper drawer. They have their own section, and I put the end of a candle from L'Artisan Parfumeur in with them so they smell delightful.

About thirty three years ago, my mother walked down the stairs one day, hollering at us kids to get ourselves into the family room for an announcement. She said - and this is for real; she really said, "God came to me in the bathtub and said I don't have to put up with this shit anymore." Then she proceeded to tear into my sister and my brother. Since he was little, he only got in trouble for thinking he should have every Tonka truck in the land for digging holes in the backyard that would surely break her ankle.

My sister was guilty of thinking she should have a $1000 sterling silver piccolo in addition to her other expensive instruments. She was in the marching band at Spring High School, and given that she's always been petite, the piccolo seemed perfectly reasonable to me. Being in the Marching Band was so decidedly Uncool that she should at least play the piccolo.

When Mother launched into me, her complaint was that I thought I should always have at least thirty pairs of panties so that I didn't have to do my laundry for a month. She was right. I developed that policy over a number of years - ever since she taught me to do my own laundry when I was in fourth grade.

She's also the one who insisted I always wear good panties in case I got hit by a car. A girl doesn't want to go to the emergency room with stretched out elastic, holes or stains. It's very tacky.
Mother's attitude probably goes back to being embarrassed because her own mother had five husbands. That was quite a scandal in those days, and kids really weren't allowed to play with my mom when she was little on account of Granny the Ho. So it was especially important to Mother that everyone in town think my sister and I were Nice Girls. It also has to do with her belief - which plenty of of people share - that being poor doesn't mean you have to be dirty. In the South being clean separates regular poor folks from Poor White Trash. Sexuality has nothing to do with any of this since Nice Girls regularly got pregnant and had to get married back when my parents got married. Furthermore, nice girls had to dodge their incestuous relatives just as frequently as anyone else. No matter what the socioeconomic status of the Pervs and Perps, however, we can be sure a woman was washing the skid marks from his drawers. Assuming he wore clean drawers - which brings us back to Underwear.

The John Robert Powers Way to Teenage Beauty, Charm and Popularity (Prentice-Hall, 1962) doesn't address the state of a girl's panties as far as I remember. I'll have to look. That book is the definitive guide to being a Lady. In any case, I did have more than thirty pairs and continued that practice.

This morning I noticed I still have close to thirty pairs - but some are every day, some are for special occasions, some match camisoles or bras. I don't have thirty pairs of cotton briefs, that's for sure.

Gayle, whose skanky awful panties are legendary, liked Hanes Her Way - which are fine underwear. Very practical - G*d knows they take a licking and keep on ticking. I prefer Jockey no pantie line hipster briefs for every day wear, myself. I have inadvertently spent $50 for a pair of gorgeous pink embroidered panties that matched a brassiere which was also pricey - but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity and engineering to hoist up this old set of hooters with style.

After doing laundry for the first time with an old boyfriend, I started picking up new underwear for him whenever I found some good boxers or knit boxer briefs on sale somewhere. His weren't gross or anything - just a bit old and frayed. When Gigi (the friend who stayed at my apartment just after the original incident concerning Gayle's Panties and got quite the earful regarding the connection between the state of an individual's panties and her moral fiber) heard I kept getting the fellow new drawers ever since we did laundry together, all she could say was, "What's with you and Underwear???"

I wish I could blame this one on Mom, but I think she may have only gotten it started. My opinion about a person's underwear being related to his/her self image is not restricted to women. Velvet has been given a lecture about skid marks. I realize that everyone gets a little surprise in his or her underwear now and then. We're all human, and as every preschool teacher knows, Everyone Poops. It's just that I believe we should pay attention to hygiene. Our hygiene says something about how we feel about ourselves. For example, when people are depressed, they often don't shower for a couple of days.

I don't know what the hell Gayle's panties said about her - but I sure don't want anyone drawing conclusions from my drawers except that I take good care of my things. Some people might think I spend my money frivolously. Buzz Kill always thought I spent money frivolously, and he only saw the cotton briefs since moving on to cute panties was part of my changing identity during the divorce - but that's another story.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Someone I'm not Supposed to Mention

There is an individual who has forbidden me in writing in front of witnesses to never speak of him in this forum again. He is such a great character that I find it's nearly impossible not to reference him occasionally. I can see why he'd be pissed off at the nickname I used, though. It wasn't particularly complementary.

I wouldn't like it if someone on the internet referred to me as Jigglypuff - which is what my son called me for a while back in his Pokemon days.
This individual may have experienced a reaction similar to my sister's and my mother's who had never said the F word in their lives until they felt it necessary to tell me to Fuck Off. Ooops.

The only thing a person can ever really do mean it when s/he says "I'm sorry." I probably should have used his High School nickname. It has much more panache. I thought he'd like a public apology, so here it is.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

If it's not one thing, it's your mother

Shout out to Kimberly, Amy and Suzanne! Why We Wax won "audience favorite" for a short in the Winnipeg Film Festival. It also won Best in Show or something like that in Phoenix.

I like to think I my participation in the project helped land these awards.
I like to think a lot of things.

According to my mother's horoscope, long term influences indicate that she will be undergoing transformative and liberating changes from last month until Dec 2009 (according to my favorite astrology site: I expect she will since Granny is dead, if not buried.

Actually Granny won't be buried at all. We are thinking about driving out to Tahoe after Velvet graduates from High School next June. That would be nine people in a van from NYC to Tahoe, 10 if you include Granny's ashes. The experience would fall somewhere between The Trip to Bountiful and A Family Hostage situation. Actually, when we originally watched the video of The Trip to Bountiful some years ago, my brother, my father and I thought the movie itself was like being held hostage. Beautifully acted and written, with excellent character development - but absolutely nothing happened. We kept hoping Geraline Page would fall through the steps of the old house just so there would be some action. I'm sure my sister wasn't there or we would have been reprimanded for being ignorant, insensitive and generally unappreciative of all the talent involved. It is Horton Foote, after all.

I'm not sure what comedian originally compared family vacations to family hostage situations, but I adopted the description instantly because it captures our trips perfectly. Mother won't fly. She's done it twice in her life and that's enough for her. So any time we go on a trip together, we've driven. Christmas 1984, the family was able to go to Disney World in Florida because my Grandfather finally died (dad's side - not at all related to Granny the Ho). He was an alcoholic nightmare, but for reasons no one understands to this day, my father required us to spend major holidays with his family until Pop died and we all rebelled - my mother leading the charge.

At some point in Mississippi, I had to pee like a race horse and my mother, a power driver, never ever turns around. She also has well established standards for bathrooms on the road. Easy access fast food restaurants are Mother's first choice bathroom stops, and for years, we could all rely on Stuckey's. They are long gone, but Mother still uses Stuckey's as the Road Trip Bathroom Standard.

No bathrooms that met my mother's criteria graced the countryside in rural Mississippi that night in 1984.

I was 25, which means my brother was 18 and my sister was 23. The family was picking up her fiance in Gainesville along the way and my sister, who shall remain nameless, was very concerned that my brother and I would irrevocably disgrace the family due to our offbeat sense of humor and liberal use of bad words. When we were traveling through Mississippi looking for a bathroom, her boyfriend wasn't there and I cussed up a blue streak since my dang mother wouldn't turn around for perfectly good, albeit Brand X, bathrooms. Along the way, we passed a grocery store called the Jitney Jungle and laughed so hard that the pee crisis became desperate.

Eventually we came to Biloxi - where the road runs into the Gulf. By this point, the entire family was hollering at my mother to stop at the first opportunity which turned out to be a gas station that had the nastiest bathroom I have been in to date. Worse than restaurants in Chinatown or the ladies' room in KGB Bar (Sorry, Denis, but everyone knows your ladies' room is simply awful).

As it happened, that place in Biloxi was so tacky that there were three condom machines in the Ladies' Room. I had never seen a condom machine before. Nowadays Mayor Bloomberg has made free NYC condoms available all around the city on account of Safe Sex. Velvet and his friends like to see if they can get past the bouncers in midtown bars to collect NYC Condoms and then hand them out to tourists on 42nd Street. Velvet is creative and charming in every way. At the time, however, I was highly offended that my mother had brought about this situation all because she won't turn around for nothin'.

On that same trip, my sister used the F word for the first time. We were in front of the Hall of Presidents watching the little airplanes paint the sky with colored smoke. I can't remember what I said, but she said, "Fuck off, Patricia" so loudly that the crowd paused a beat to check us out. And my sister was a very prim English teacher back then. It was quite a milestone in our family history. I'm not sure if it's an honor, but it is certainly a distinction that people who never cuss have used the F word for the first time in their lives to tell me to Fuck Off.

When my mother the broke the F word barrier, she was also yelling at me for something I said when I was living with them and going to grad school. That was the same year that my mother delivered the famous line: We're all trapped in our own personal Hell, Patricia, and nobody wants to hear about yours.

My mother is a brilliant character.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Granny the Ho and the Great Beyond

Granny the 'Ho has gone on to her reward. Although the whole tale is long and rather Faulknerian, the ending is nice.

A day or two before Granny died, the chaplain and the nurse both told my mother that Granny was afraid to die because she didn't think she deserved forgiveness. Mother called her brothers to tell them they had a job to do. The California brother didn't have a problem with forgiving Granny although he suddenly spazzed out at the thought that his mother was fixing to die - like it was a damn surprise when hospice had been visiting the house three times a week since February. The other brother needed convincing, but mother told him that she didn't care if he lied -- he better fucking forgive Granny or she could linger for weeks barely conscious. Fortunately, Granny wasn't in any pain, but she couldn't see well enough to read the soft porn, bodice rippers she loved or watch Wheel of Fortune, The Price is Right and The Food Network. She just rested in the hospital bed they had moved into her room and rubbed a Joel Olsteen book. Enough already.

The day she died, both her sons called to say they forgave her for ditching them to run off with a man back when they were all kids in North Carolina. As it happened, that day was also my birthday. My family has never let little things like geography stand in the way of birthday cake, so since my sister was in Houston visiting my parents, they baked me a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Granny hadn't eaten in a couple of days, but she perked up for the cake.

It was the last thing she ever ate. The night nurse, Bernadette, put frosting on her pinkie finger and Granny sucked it off like a baby. That night she died in her sleep.

We might all go to Tahoe next summer to spread her ashes. In the meantime, I told everyone I wanted a quarter cup of Granny to keep for myself.