It is a well known fact, that as an avid, but novice, student of psychology, I am well versed in human motivation. We all know that when Sir Walter Raliegh laid his cloak over the puddle for the Queen to pass, that it was a mannerly gesture. We all know that good manners are merely kindly considerate behaviour to the other people that share the planet with us, the club of humankind.
I attend the children’s school for their Holiday performance. Since the cafeteria lacks a stage or raised platform, I am hidden from their view. I sit four rows back from the front. My children probably sit or sometimes lie on the floor. Even though my eyes cannot really see this, the occasional flash of a tired, dusty sneaker is unmistakable.
I notice a woman in the row in front of me, another mum. Her ear rings catch the light, twinkle and twirl. My eyes travel down her spine. Oh no! The poor woman has left the house is such a rush that she accidentally wears a black bra under a white, gossamer blouse. How unfortunate and she forgot her cardi too! Some people have all the bad luck. I can feel her tension as she rolls her shoulders and arches her back ever so slightly. Poor thing, she seems just as exhausted as me. Her neck kinks as she tries to dislodge the knots. She wriggles in her chair trying to get comfortable on the hard seat as I spot something familiar. I notice the elastic waistband of her undies. The very same as my own! All of the nicest and most respectable ladies around here are familiar with this designer label, the hallmark of the distinguished and discerning shopper. Yes, Target knickers for the woman of world.
I glance to right and left to see if anyone else has noticed. They have! Now I am burdened with an obligation. As a fully signed up member of the Feminists Forever club I am under a duty to put her in the know and save her from public humiliation. We belong to the same group, the kind of women who clad our nether regions in tasteful Target attire. I think of a few strategies:-
“Hi! We’re wearing the same knickers today!” doesn’t sound quite right. Maybe I should say ‘pants’ instead, but then she might think I’m referring to her trousers? ‘Shorts!’ I should use the word ‘shorts,’ that will clarify everything.
“I see we both share the same taste in lingerie,” may lead to more confusion. What pity I can’t use English code, an adaptation of ‘Charlies Dead!’ which tells the wearer that their petticoat is on show. Pity it doesn’t apply to other undergarments. I suspect that’s illegal, like shouting ‘fire!’ in a public auditorium, to cause mass panick and mayhem.
“I’m wearing a medium. What size are you wearing?” might be open to misinterpretation. Insulting or competitive? I should steer clear of that one.
“Don’t you think that red is the jolliest colour and so seasonal?” might be suggestive of other conclusions.
I’m tempted to slap the faces of everyone who examines the lettering on her elastic but I need to remember to set a model example of tolerance. I squirm with indecision. I recheck for peekers in the audience. Damn their eyes!
I debate whether I could drape my jacket over the back of her chair and obscure the view? Maybe I could just hurl it over her shoulders but that seems a little invasive.
She stands to applaud as we all rise in unison. Her movements are far more languorous that everyone else’s knee jerk reaction. Is that a little shimmy of the hips? If I were a male person or possibly a young person or a different person, that gesture might be ever so slightly suggestive? What could it possibly be suggestive of, where the real performers are under 8? I see her hands reach behind her to check. Horray! Her thumbs hook the waistband and hoik up her knicker elastic a little higher. I wait for a repetition with the black velvet waistband of her trousers. Her fingers flutter over her bare flesh as she lifts her pale, clinging fabric of her blouse a little higher, to widen the gap, the band of bare, in December, in the cafeteria, of an Elementary school, during a holiday performance.
Not for the first time, I’m frightfully glad that I kept my big, fat gob shut.
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