Adolescence is a difficult time, and even tougher for those of us beleaguered with lingerie issues, a fact rammed home to me at my first slumber party.
My Cousin Gayle lived in a podunk town 40 miles south of the metropolis where I grew up. It should have been a clear-cut case of the city mouse and the country mouse, with me lording my superior cultural advantages over her, but somehow the roles got reversed. Maybe because she was two years older, or because she grew up in a family not hampered by bizarre interdictions around lingerie, Gayle always seemed more sophisticated than I.
Being two years older gave certain other advantages, too. While my own chest was as level as the roof of my Aunt Louise’s Rambler, Gayle’s already displayed interesting geography. When another girl at the party teased her about her expanding bosom, she thrust out her chest and proclaimed, “Them’s my mountains,” leaving me with foothill envy and panicked that she might veer off into a discussion of brassieres.
To cope with my unease, I wedged myself into a corner, where I could watch without getting pulled into conversation. Occasionally Gayle’s eyes would flick my way, and she’d demand to know what I was looking at, was I queer or something, but aside from these little forays into hostessing, she left me pretty much alone, and slowly I relaxed enough to grow drowsy.
Until, eying me, she warned, “We’re staying up all night. The first girl who falls asleep – we stick her underwear in the freezer.”
That snapped me awake. I’d never been up past midnight in my life.
And I wasn’t wearing any underwear.
A quick glance showed me that, beneath their pj’s, all the other girls wore panties. I had a vision of myself nodding off, only to wake up sans pajama bottoms, with half a dozen teenaged girls staring at my bare behind. If my heterosexuality was in question before, that would surely seal the deal.
I had to remedy this deficiency, pronto.
While the other girls jiggled to a 45 of “Love, Love Me, Do,” I slid from my niche and wafted toward the row of travel cases, nodding and putting a little jump in my step that could be mistaken for dancing. Snatching up my case, I headed for the stairs like a Johnny Unitas breaking for a touchdown. I was at the thirty, the twenty, the ten-yard line….
“Where are you going?” Gayle said, staring at my suitcase.
I swallowed. “To the bathroom. I have to, uh, change my, uh….”
Before I could finish she cut me off. “Don’t wake up Mom and Dad.”
I realized later that she thought I had my period. Apparently, even in her anything goes world there were some things you didn’t say aloud.
In the bathroom, I hunted for the next day’s undergarments in my suitcase, but all I could find was the pair I’d worn that day. Grimacing, I turned them inside out and pulled them on.
On my way back upstairs I met the pack, minus one, coming down. Gayle led the triumphal parade, bearing a pair of pink panties on the end of a stick.
“And that’s what will happen to every girl who finks out on us,” she said, shoving them into the freezer among food her family would now surely have to discard. I felt the reassuring pinch of elastic around my thighs and breathed a sigh of relief.
When we got back upstairs, we roused our victim, who laughed sleepily, rolled over and fell back asleep. She was still wearing her pajamas and the line of her underpants was clearly visible, which left me with a mystery: how could her panties be at once in the freezer, and on her bottom?
Gayle put “Johnny Angel” on the record player, and a couple of girls started dancing together and singing along in a moony sort of way. Beyond them, against the wall, one suitcase was open, its contents rumpled.
They hadn’t scored the pair that girl was wearing, I realized. They had taken the clean pair from her luggage.
This is how I learned that not wearing panties beneath your pj’s is only the social frying pan.
The inferno is reserved for those who don’t change their underwear.