Just slip quietly into the aisle, make a quick turn behind a clothing rack, and stay cool.
The furtive glances. The reckless rifling through racks of clothing. The frantic search for just the right size, and fighting panic at the sudden sound of a man’s voice as he's walking down the tile path, twenty feet away.
I’m not shoplifting, I promise. It’s worse than that. I’m...I’m…buying unmentionables. Get me out of here, somebody.
There is a host of other things that I’m completely rational about. I actually enjoy the dentist, and I don’t mind getting my teeth cleaned. Mondays don’t bother me at all. But there is almost nothing that I dread more than shopping for underwear.
Another woman is across from me, one rack over, and we carefully avoid eye contact. I rummage through satins and polyesters (egad), scanning tags for the perfect size, just to be met with a gibbering combination of letters and numbers that only mean something to adorable highschoolers who have never experienced childbirth.
I hear a male voice nearby, and the praise that I whisper for being barely five feet tall and hidden by the rack of hosiery is immediately followed by a muttered curse toward the young woman who brought her boyfriend in.
Well, not really. I mean, probably not. I really can’t remember, it was all so distressing.
34C. 36B. 42A, and on and on. French-cut, high-cut, bikini-cut, and brief. I’m going to need counseling after this.
There ought to be a precise algorithm just for women who have been through childbirth and breastfeeding to assist us in finding the perfect fit and style of undergarment:
Start with the size you were before your first pregnancy. Add x for every childbirth, multiply by y for every child breastfed, divide by the number of actual months nursing. Finally, subtract n times pi for how many years it’s been since weaning your youngest child and proceed to the nearest liquor store.
Lacking this perfect formula (and not in the habit of frequenting liquor stores, anyway), I skeptically grab a few items that look like they might fit a female human and then contemplate my dash to the dressing room…and suddenly realize that I can’t remember where the dressing rooms are.
Blankety blank. I should’ve checked before my arms were loaded with lacy unmentionables.
From between a rack of hideous negligees and cute pajama pants, I peek out and look for the sign. There it is, just to the right. Awesome. Yes! Except…
…under the sign, between me and the dressing room, is the Designated Waiting Area for Patient Husbands. Two men are sitting there.
I grab several more things off the rack next to me – every possible style in four different sizes - just so the pile of garments is high enough that the men won’t see my face and recognize me from school, from work, or, God forbid, from church, and double-time it past them and duck into the hallway.
I survive the dressing room. A few things make the cut, I make the purchase, and make my way out to the car.
I realize that the herbal relaxant I took earlier was probably a really good idea.
Shopping online would have been a better one, though.