“I can’t believe I gave my panties* to a geek.”
~Movie: Sixteen Candles, 1984, Samantha (Molly Ringwald)
*I will not be using the word panties in this essay**
**Because I’m not creepy.
The average women owns 21 pairs of underwear. I read that somewhere on the Internet once, and even though we all know everything we read on the Internet is true, I think it’s a lie.
I think the average woman, if the average woman is anything like me (and in like me, I mean late 30s, with a propensity for eating chocolate chip cookies and a closet full of clothes ranging from size 6 to 16), has about 10 wearable pairs of underwear in her drawer and about 497 pairs of underwear that reflect the different phases of her adult life and will never be worn again.
You can tell a lot about a woman’s life if you dig through her underwear drawer. I’m not allowed to tell anyone how I know this (stupid plea agreement), but I’m pretty sure it’s true across the board.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
The Many Phases of a Mom’s Sex Life (as told through the contents of her underwear drawer)
Phase 1: Dating
Underwear Status: Be-thong-ed
Theme Song: She had dumps like a truck truck truck, Thighs like what what what, Baby move your butt butt butt.
When you meet him in the atrium of the nicest restaurant in town, the first thing you notice is his hands.
Long, thin fingers. Large, smooth palms, nice nails. Echoes of every bad joke and rumor you have ever heard ring in your head. You know what they say about men with big hands.
He reaches out for a handshake and you lean in for a hug and your thong suddenly rides high and you hope to God this guy is worth the effort you put into choosing your undergarments.
He’s really cute. Like Neil Patrick Harris cute, except he wants to actually do you.
And when you hug him you feel a weird tingle up your spine, like some sort of divine inspiration. For one brief, dangerous second, you envision those large hands of his reaching around to unclasp your bra.
Two weeks later, when he does just that and more, you begin to believe that most rumors come from someplace very true.
Oh. my. GAWD.
Phase 2: Wedding Night
Underwear Status: Corset Contraption
Theme song: It’s a nice day to start again, It’s a nice day for a white wedding
*Not actually me.
Your feet hurt and there are 693 bobby pins in your hair. You think, all I want to do is collapse facedown in sweatpants on this hotel bed (welcome to wedded bliss!). You close the bathroom door behind you and in the harsh lighting, your makeup and half down hair combine to give you exactly the impression of a drowned rat. Outside the door, your new husband is laying in the bed, eating the entire third tier of your wedding cake with a fork. “Will you be coming out soon?” he calls, and you imagine crumbs falling out of his open mouth onto your pillow.
The complicated white virginal corset lingerie number that looked so terrific in the Victoria Secret catalogue now looks like a torture device. “I’m all done with the cake and I’m waiting for dessert!” your ball and chain of exactly three hours bellows from the bed.
Naked, you consider the lingerie hanging on the back of the bathroom door one more time, resentfully. And then instead, you wrap the thick white cotton robe around you and leave the contraption hanging on the hook.
When you walk out of the bathroom, that man lets out a low whistle. “Hello beautiful wife,” he says, and his voice chokes with emotion on the last word, just a little.
“Hello, husband…” you whisper back. Who needs lingerie? There’s a man holding a cake waiting for you, with a fork.
And the hotel robe falls to the floor.
Phase 3: Pregnancy
Underwear Status: Knocked Up Knickers
Theme Song: You’re the woman I love, & I love what it’s doing to you, Having my baby, You’re a woman in love and I love what’s going through you***
***This is literally the worst song I have heard in my life by the way, the worst. The people who wrote this should be locked in a room and be forced to listen to their own monstrosity on repeat for 9 months straight.
You’re calling bullSHIT. You’re calling up every one of your (ex)friends that told you that having a baby was really great and telling them that when you have full range of motion again you are TOTALLY going to punch them in the throat. Hard.
Have a baby, they said. You’re going to love it. Those motherfuckers called themselves FRIENDS.
Sex is now a complicated system of hoisting maneuvers and roughly drawn schematics. You map out the plan at the kitchen table after meatloaf. Here’s how we’re going to do this. I’m going to lay HERE and you’re going to take off all my clothes because I’m too tired from existing in this whale sized frame today. (Don’t you DARE complain about the ginormity of my underwear, son.)
Then I’m going to need roughly 14 minutes to sit myself up, roll over, climb on my knees and arrange all 42 of these bed pillows into some remotely comfortable support position. Try not to focus on the elephantine immensity of my rear end. ALSO I haven’t seen my vagina in 4 months so I can make no promises about what you’re going to find. If you, at any time, become horrified by what you see — remember that YOU DID THIS TO ME. You did this TO ME. I think about that A LOT. So you’re gonna want to be MIGHTY careful.
You will then have approximately 4 minutes to get the job done before my knees start hurting and I start complaining that I want a snack.
This is the best I can offer you. Are you in?
(He is always in.)
Phase 4: Postpartum
Underwear Status: Marvelous in Mesh
Theme Song: And it burns, burns, burns, The ring of fire, the ring of fire.
I’m wearing UNDERWEAR MADE OF GAUZE. It is the most lovely horrible amazing humiliating thing I have ever worn on my nether regions and I LIKE IT. I LIKE IT!
Oh. AND DO NOT. DOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOT come up anywhere on my person for the next 4-44 weeks.
Step back, give me space. More space. Step back. Step farther back.
Now go find me that squirty bottle for my vagina that I left on the counter.
Phase 5: MILF
Underwear Status: Mama’s got her groove back
Theme Song: She’s a bad mama jama. Just as fine as she can be.
Not my underwear*
*Actually my underwear
Well hello there again feet! Hello there you husbandy hunk of man-meat. I have to say I’m feeling pretty darn fine in these leopard bikinis. Me-OW!
You’ve got your pizzazz back. Just saying the word PIZZAZZ makes you want to do some jazz hands!
Two Coronas at the Mexican dive bar down the street and you and your señor are at home playing hide the burrito.
It’s all fun and games and guacamole, until the two lines turn pink on the pregnancy test again.
You play, you pay, mama.
Back to Phase 3. And this time, there’s a toddler in tow. Sad Trombone.
Phase 6: Smoke and Mirrors
Underwear Status: I can’t breathe in these Spanx and I’m hungry.
Theme Song: She’s a brick HOUUUUUSSSSE.
Remember when you could just throw on a dress and a pair of bikini underwear and do normal things like go out for frozen yogurt and have conversations with other adults? Yeah, me neither.
Because your life is now a very complicated mess of form fitting shapewear, lack of time for sex at all and small people with unreasonable demands roaming around that you willingly created. Sometimes you choose not to leave the house just because you can’t bear to stuff yourself into those high-waisted wonders. It’s such an exhausting process you have to stop to snack right in the middle of it.
And don’t even try to come to bed in those things. One look at you in that girdle and your husband weeps. My eyes. My EYES!
It’s the underwear that scares him. Not you. He doesn’t mind that you have a few lumps and bumps. You actually heard him say that he likes you with a little “junk in your trunk.”
Which is good because car analogies are always a hit with wives.
You like him with his “spare tire” too. There — how does he like it?
Sometimes you think about starting a bonfire and throwing all that old underwear in it, piece by piece. Other times, during your 6 minutes of free time each day, you like to open your underwear drawer and reminisce.
Thongs. White weddings. Mesh. Pizzazz. Burritos.
Sweet, sweet lycra and lace memories.