I went to my friend Barbara Christine’s house for a well-deserved night out. Sure, we spend a lot of time on the phone but our “In Real Life” moments were, at that time, rare. We plopped down next to each other on the same love seat, and it felt like home. And I do not mean literally home, but more like when I slid into that love seat next to her I felt like I just ran the bases at Miller Stadium and did a fabulous slide into home plate. That kind of home.
Barbara Christine knows just about everything there is to know about me because for the greatest part of it, she was right there. In my old neighborhood, you could see the second and third-floor of her home from my second-floor front bedroom window. That is until the trees came into bloom. We were constantly lending each other flour, sugar, dish soap, even Hershey’s Kisses.
At least a decade ago, Barb and I were supposed to attend the same neighborhood Christmas party and I was so far behind on my laundry that I didn’t think I would have clean unders in time for the event.
We laughed and joked about it, saying that I might just have to go to this very Christian holiday gathering without any underwear because my washer and dryer were old and decrepit. They ran slowly, didn’t wring things out adequately, and took forever to dry because the heating element was just about shot. As usual, we discussed our clothing options, continually returning to the fact that I may not be attending because of my lack of unders.
That evening, Barb and I arrived at the party within minutes of each other. “Do you have on underwear?” she asked. I started laughing, “Of course, I do.”
Now, typically I consider myself to be as religious as the next guy but this neighborhood Christmas party was taking place in the home of the most religious people I know. Oodles of parishioners were in attendance along with a decent assortment of priests.
The children from this house were begging to put Baby Jesus into his manger before Christmas morning. Eventually, one of the older priests who may have gotten tired of the whining said that it would be alright if Baby Jesus laid in his manger for a couple of hours and then got “put away” again.
For this particular family to allow Baby Jesus to get to the manger before Christmas morning is a HUGE ordeal. My personal preference would be to have Baby Jesus out all year long because I love the wide-eyed open-armed look of Him with the glowing halo. It used to bother me the way Baby Jesus had eyes that followed you where ever you were in the room, but I got over that during my mid-thirties. How? Simply put, if you don’t make eye contact with Baby Jesus, you tell can no longer see where the holiest of all holy cherubs is looking.
So as we all gather around the Christmas tree and the three wise guys and their camels get moved closer and closer, the room gets more and more quiet. I understand that once The Star became visible the Christ Posse had more of a purpose and couldda/shouldda/wouldda picked up some speed once they were given permission to arrive earlier than planned, but this re-enactment needed to be more accurate because Good Wise Men never arrive early. Even to get there on time is nothing short of a miracle itself.
And Barbara Christine whispers in my ear, “Did you get your laundry done? Do you have clean underwear?” And I whispered back to her, “Maybe I am swaddled in the only available cloth just like Baby Jesus.”
Thus began the inappropriate laughing which could not be contained. Granted, watching these near teen-aged children moving camels across a white sheet underneath the Christmas Tree had me on the edge already. “We Three Kings” was playing on a cassette player in the dining room and I knew we had to get hysteria under control because after all, this was supposed to be a reflective time.
So I pinched the inside of Barbara Christine’s arm and motioned with my head that we should mosey on over towards the source of the music thinking that if we stand on the opposite side of the boom box our snickering and giggling would be veiled. Well, that would have been a fine plan if there hadn’t been extension cords laying all over the place to keep all the crock pots and roasters warmed and ready to go. All Christians know that nothing symbolizes the safe arrival of Baby Jesus like piping hot cocktail wieners.
So like two wise women, Barbara Christine and I proceeded with our travels over to the music source. That’s when my heel got caught on an extension cord and the power strip came out of the wall socket. As I quietly bent over to plug it back in there was a teeny tiny spark and then the power went out in the dining room. I did what any religious holiday-loving Christian would do at this time, I lied. “Oh my goodness, I was just standing here and I saw it spark.” Now I guess that comes in under the category of lying by omission which is more a White Lie than a Standard Issue Lie.
Barbara Christine had vanished. Like magic, right? She just took off and went into the bathroom because of her escalating laughter which was a good choice on her part because I heard one of the priests declare that he would bless Baby Jesus during this small power outage which the teenagers were declaring as some type of miracle.
Barbara Christine and I reconnected later in the food line. Someone had put the jello squares way to close to the crock pot of German potato salad so the red and green layers were rapidly melting. An elderly parishioner who was well-intentioned but irritating kept trying to rearrange the food on the table to make more room. She must have had visual problems because she picked up the platter of partially liquid Jello Jigglers and added them to the cucumber salad while declaring, “We certainly don’t need two bowls of cold salad, now do we!” Makes a person wonder how some elderly people even manage to make it through a day. My guess is it takes a lot of prayer and faith.
While we leaned against a wall eating, Barbara Christine and I had this conversation:
Barbara Christine: So, are you wearing underwear?
Me: Of course, I am.
Barbara Christine: Are they clean?
Barbara Christine: Doesn’t it feel great to be caught up on laundry?
Me: Oh, I’m not caught up on laundry.
Barbara Christine: *Audible Gasp*
Me: I’m wearing clean unders, they just aren’t mine.
And I quickly walked away because my abdomen could not handle any more shaking around. And with perfect timing, it was announced that we would now begin singing Christmas carols. We were treated to a fabulous mini-concert by one of our city’s charismatic piano players as he belted out tune after tune after tune.
The final song of the night was Sleigh Ride and the crowd just let ‘er rip. One of the teens from the hosting family had some vintage sleigh bells and we were having one of those unexpected lake effect snows that would have ordinarily upset me because I walked to her house and now there were near white-out conditions, but it fit right in with the festivities.
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
Over the hills we go …
And as we get to the line, laughing all the way, I hiked up my beaded holiday sweater, stuck my thumb in the waistband of the unders I was wearing and poked Barbara Christine in the ribs to get her attention.
She let out the deepest, hardiest laugh of all times because I was wearing my (then) husband’s Fruit Of The Loom Tighty Whities. Oh yes, I was. Uh huh.
Trust me, I had finished my laundry, but I knew this would be the last thing Barbara Christine ever would expect.
For the first couple of hours of the evening, they were remarkably uncomfortable and really bunchy and I was full of panic that if I slipped in the snow on my walk home and was rendered unconscience and had a compound fracture in my leg there would be a good chance my pants would have to be removed and everyone would wonder why I was wearing these ridiculous tighty whiteys.
Then I realized that I felt secure in my femininity and so what if all the emergency room people saw what I had on … once they heard I wore them to get a laugh from my friend, they would understand.
A few days later when I was checking to see if the mail had arrived I discovered a tiny Victoria’s Secret gift bag between the two front doors. Inside was the oh-my-gosh teeniest red thong. Of course, I knew this was from Barbara Christine.
When I called her she was laughing so hard that all I could hear was wheezing and snorting and I seriously wondered if I should be concerned for her safety. I was finally able to understand the three words she was sputtering, “emergency spare pair.”
And, yes I still have “My First Thong” and I keep it right in my underwear drawer close to the front so I can see it right away. I’ve never worn it, partly because it didn’t come with a manual that would explain how I should wear it but mostly because I plan on giving it back to Barbara Christine someday when she is least expecting it. For now, it stays where it is because for me it feels like home.