September 18, 2007

Reading is fundamental

*Credit to Jo for jogging my memory

Let me preface this by saying: they weren't for me.

I start with that, because it's the answer to the question that will fly out of your mouth/brain, unbidden, in just a second. So I will say it again, just so we're clear: they weren't for me. Got it? Good. Moving on.

I have, on two occasions, gone into a grocery store unaccompanied, and purchased pantyhose. Now go read that first sentence again.

If there were any questions as to whether I'm a good friend to have, I will now consider the matter closed.

Here's the thing: a lot of guys talk about buying tampons as being a big deal. Like it's the ultimate sign of either a) loyalty and devotion, or b) whipped-ness, depending on your point of view. But I disagree. Tampons are nothing. All buying tampons says is that more than likely there is a woman at home who will be very, um, grateful, when you get home (or at least in a short period of time). ('period,' heh) Tampons are unambiguous; everyone in the place knows what they are and what they mean. Ladies who see men buying tampons/pads will invariably see that man in a positive light, a gentleman to be respected and admired.

Pantyhose? Not so much. The social standing of a man buying pantyhose is, understandably, somewhat less clear. He may very well be a helpful soul, doing his part for a lady friend in need. Or, he may be a bank robber. Or a transvestite. Or something that makes either a bank robber or transvestite seem like a desirable alternative; I leave that to your imagination. Pleasant dreams. But I digress. I was the former, just trying to help out. This particular story concerns my first pantyhose adventure (which really sounds like a whole lot more fun than it was, as you will see).

My freshman year of college, I lived in a dorm that was coed by floor, and I happened to get to know a number of the girls who lived on the floor above me (somehow, in 1993, simply knowing how to get around in Windows made one an 'expert,' but that's another story). My favorite of these was 'Heather,' with whom I got to be pretty good friends that year and through most of college. Anyway, Heather got herself into a sorority, and come springtime she got all dolled up and went off with her boyfriend to her spring formal. Looked great, good to go, no problem.

Fast forward about three hours. I'm hanging out down the hall when I hear the door to our hallway open, and the sound of heels heading my way. Naturally, I poke my head out to see who it is, and there's Heather, visibly upset, and she comes straight to me and about loses it. Mascara running, tears all over the place, generally not a great scene. Apparently she got a little tipsy, did something embarrassing (or got in a snit with the boyfriend, I really don't remember) and made a beeline home. More or less inconsolable, and I somehow have to deal with this.

The solution: take her upstairs to the girls, and put her in the care of experts. Fortunately for me, a couple of her sisters had followed her home, so there was a cavalry of sorts. I did, however, make what would prove to be the mistake of sticking around, something I would come to regret. Twice.

So we get her calmed down, and ultimately decide that what she needs to do is put herself back together and go back to the formal. Excellent idea, all agree. So the crew gets to work.

Hair? Tara. Makeup? Keely. We're good to go.

Then, someone notices the run in the pantyhose (cue more crying). At which point the room basically turns and looks at me. Given that I had (and have) no skills in the hair or makeup department, and seeing as how both of my legs did in fact work, I was the 'logical' choice to go to the campus store and get black pantyhose for Heather. (cue Moment of Regret #1) And quickly, chop-chop. Regular black pantyhose, no frills, just get it. I'm a smart guy, I figure it can't be that hard, so off I go. I'm the man (er, as it were). I was to the store in back in less than twenty minutes, and proud of myself for it.

Now I should take a second and describe Heather: maybe 5'3", a petite little thing, cute as a button, etc. But the point is, tiny little blonde girl.

I should also point out the importance not just of reading, but reading for comprehension. And I should further mention, gentlemen, that if you find yourself in a similar position you should know that pantyhose comes not only in different colors, but different sizes as well (this is worth writing down, if you have a pen handy).

Because, it turns out, when a size 0-1 girl is already in a very, very fragile state, it does nothing to help matters when she is handed a package of pantyhose to wear, whose size reads: Queen. I am not exaggerating when I say that this went over poorly. There may have been more, possibly even louder, crying. I try to block that part out.

But the bottom line (ha) is, these will not do. But it's no problem, I will simply return them and get the right size, and all will be well. So again, off I go to the campus store. I have a receipt, so there will be no issues.

I get to the store, go up to the counter, and explain that I need to return some pantyhose. The guy behind the counter reaches down and pulls out a form, and explains that I will have to sign for that. (cue Moment of Regret #2) Apparently, my alma mater keeps records of all returns made to the campus store. So in the archives somewhere, there is written record of the fact that I returned women's black Queen-sized pantyhose, complete with (wait for it) social security number and signature. Awesome.

Plus, the whole transaction took time, of which I had very little. So little, in fact, that when I got back Heather was gone. They decided to skip the pantyhose and go without. Which if they had just decided in the first place, would have saved me two trips to the store and a signature for women's undergarments. And might have kept any potential political aspirations alive. But not so much.

But I hear bank robbery is a growth industry, and I do have a leg up on that now.


Anonymous said...

haha. you made me laugh. out loud, in fact. you got the QUEEN size? tsk tsk. you learned a valuable lesson my friend. i'd stick to tampons if i were you.

gn said...

Oh wow.

You should learn to do makeup and hair to avoid being sent on these errands in the future.

jess said...

if only she had understood that 'queen' was a metaphor for what kind of woman she was in your mind. :)

Jo said...

Pantyhose are even complicated for me! I usually spend at least 5 minutes staring at them figuring out which one I need, control top? reinforced toe? Nude? Beige?

And you're right, if I was the checkout person, I'd totally look at you like you were a transvestite :-)

WiB said...

h - yeah, it's funny now. And it was kind of funny at the time, minus the crying.

I think that's the first time anyone has suggested that I specialize in tampons, though.

gn - see above re: makeup and hair. But yeah, it would have been easier in the end.

jess - my point exactly. Unfortunately, in this case Queen has less in common with royalty than bed size, and nothing I was going to say was going to change that.

jo - The second time I bought them (several years later) was the time I got the cashier who raised one eyebrow and asked, "Hot date tonight?"

But thanks for your list, because I wouldn't have thought to tell that story except for your embarrasing-moment refrence. See? Even boring and uninspired, you can inspire others. :)

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