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In 1992, I was twenty-three and the girl who had sex on the first date, if not before. promotion
In 1992, I was twenty-three and the girl who had sex on the first date, if not before.
The beauty of my solution lay in its simplicity: I would wear a pair of panties too embarrassing to reveal to him.
The panties in question were a pair of threadbare, beige-gray Hanes Her Way, with an elastic waistband that appeared to have been shredded by raccoons. They were at least a decade old. I don't recall ever purchasing a pair of underwear that rose above my navel, which leads me to conclude, reluctantly, that I was wearing my mother's underpants. I can't imagine how this scenario came to pass, but there it is. My mom's panties were serving as a chastity belt. She might appreciate the symbolism, if she weren't praying so hard right now.
I've told this story to friends who can't understand the notion of owning bad underwear. These friends traipse around with wry smiles on their faces, luxuriating in the knowledge that the garment separating their crotches from the public is a pair of silky hand-sewn pink-and-black lace-lined boyshorts. Well, bully for them. As for me, I have long had a collection of good underwear, with some bad ones loitering around like ugly, demented cousins. I wear the good kind when going to a place where I'd prefer to feel like a civilized being and not a subhumanoid in a skirt. The good underwear is not so much for showing off, but for feeling presentable. It's for knowing that if you were to fall from a hot-air balloon, the spectators below would appreciate your sexy satin knickers. Good underwear hoists and flatters. You don't have to worry about your good underwear bagging above the waistline of your jeans or dipping below the hem of your shorts. Good underwear obeys.
Bad underwear is different. No longer comfortable or attractive, bad underwear is worn on laundry days, or when you have the worst period in menstrual history and do not want to destroy a good pair. You only wear the bad underwear when you are staying inside. It doesn't matter how much clothing you plan to wear over it; the bad underwear stays at home. No one may see the bad underwear, ever.
This rule is what compelled me to wear my ugliest underwear on the night in question. I had traveled from Brooklyn to Boston to have dinner with Bill, a man I met at a wedding in Maine some weeks before. (I had already dated most of the men in New York, so I had to branch out to the Northeast Corridor.) We had spent hours sitting by a lake, our legs dangling off the dock, sharing a bottle of Champagne while the rest of the wedding danced and whooped it up inside. When I try to remember Bill, mostly what I recall is that he was extremely tall, which might explain why I can't remember his face. What I do remember is that he was nice — nice in a way that most men I had dated were not. He seemed interested in what I had to say. Instead of responding to my jokes with another joke, he laughed. And when he did talk about himself, he did so with charming vulnerability.
"Long-distance relationships," he explained. "They never work. After this last one I swore I would never get into another relationship with someone who didn't live in my city."
I murmured sympathetically, but something told me I was being issued a challenge. I'll never get into a long-distance relationship, he was saying, UNLESS. Unless it's with the perfect woman. I felt duty-bound to take this on. I was going to be the out-of-state girlfriend who proved the exception to the rule. I was going to show him that miles mean nothing when love is everything. Distance be damned, I was going to make him love me, this man whose face I can no longer recall.
Thus, the visit. I was staying at a friend's place so that I wouldn't be tempted to sleep with him immediately. I had to build this up slowly, because that was how our long-distance love affair would sustain itself — the excruciating longing for each other would help the time between get-togethers fly by. This was my guess, anyway. I had no clue how long-distance relationships worked, having never actually been in one.
"Long-distance relationships are doomed from the outset," he said during dinner. I coyly responded by batting my eyelashes in Morse code: I. Know. What You're Really. Trying. To Tell Me. Wink. Wink.
"Alice," he said as he pulled away, "I just . . . I don't think I'm ready for this."
In response, I put my tongue in his ear. He shut up about his misgivings. But strangely, I felt some reluctance of my own. Why was I hesitating? Then I felt them drooping around my hips: the ugly panties. What had made me to travel across state lines while wearing these? I wondered. What compelled me to take such risks? Perhaps I'd done it as a joke. I imagined myself at my friend's house, holding them out to my friend and asking her how much she'd pay me to wear them on my date. Worse than the panties, even, was the velour bodysuit I was wearing over them. In the early '90s, velour bodysuits were not yet considered hilarious. The snap-crotch made the underwear billow in the back. If he pulled up my skirt, he would see that my ass was about to set sail.