Sunday, March 10, 2013

Curious and deranged with excitement

Here is a story I like to tell live. I perform two genres of stories: close-call adventures and moments of humiliation. Until now, I've avoided blogging about the cringe stories; a live event with a set audience is fine, but I don't have the guts to immortalize these stories on the internet. With this piece, the tides are turning.

I'd also like to point out to any teenage girl reading this, that even though this happened to me, and there were witnesses, I'm still pretty cool now. So that should cheer you up.
14 years old. Full braces smile after getting my billfold of Riverdance signed by the cast
When I was in eighth grade I had no sense of fashion. None. Even in Vermont, where anything goes, particularly in the wintertime, I was at the bottom of the heap.

I remember owning one pair of pants. Back then they manufactured pants that were sensible to the point of indestructible and unfortunately, they could last for years, handed down from cousin to cousin. This pair was dark green, wide-ribbed corduroy, with hefty pockets on the side and an elastic waist.  I paired these with sturdy flannel tops and Ts from catalogs with letters in the name: LL Bean, JC Pennies.

It was these pants, along with physics, that made me a victim of static cling. In case you've never done laundry, this is a phenomenon where static causes one article of clothing to cling to another. Usually you peel apart the items and go on your way. Sometimes, if the climate is particularly dry, there are sparks and it's exciting. Over the course of a normal lifetime, static cling is just a thing that happens, neither a force for good nor evil. I wasn't so lucky.

My green corduroys were roomy on my late to bloom adolescent frame. I may have been wearing long underwear at the time and, as we've all learned, an extra layer dulls sensation, no matter how thin. And so, when I got dressed that dark January morning, I was unaware that a pair of my underpants had become balled up inside of my pant leg during the drying process.

I know I'm not supposed to use the word underpants. It's a word generally dropped from our vocabulary by ten or eleven, either forever or until we become moms and start saying it again. It's not a good word. But that's what I wore at the time. Underwear is too neutral. Panties seems inaccurate and also slightly inappropriate. Nobody is more sorry than I to say this, but mine were Underpants with a capitol U. K-mart variety, dull white, no frills. They came in a pack of ten.

On this day, the air was so dry, the cling so mighty, that the underpants stayed in place until the end of school hours, when all my walking from class to class must have caused them to migrate down the leg and towards the ankle.

After lunch, I trooped as usual to Mr. Young's 7th period American History class. As luck would have it, that afternoon I was giving a presentation that required me to stand alone in front of my peers. Then, like now, I was not adverse to public speaking. I'm sure I dazzled. And then it happened.

As I was striding confidently back to my seat, the underpants tumbled from my pant leg, out from the ankle and onto the floor. By the time I realized something had gone wrong, I was a good three strides away from it. I paused, looking straight forward. I thought, "Please, please be a sock." And then I turned around.

In that moment, time stood as still as ice. The world shrank down to three entities: me, my classmates, and the underpants. Even the teacher disappeared. For a single, surreal second, all was still. And then, from the back of the class, came the voice of a boy, a voice at once genuinely curious and deranged with excitement: "Is that underwear?!"

Too late, I took action. Like a mother lifting a car off of a pinned child I sprung with the strength and speed of an Olympian. I snatched up the garment, arrived at my seat and shoved them into my backpack, never once breaking a tense and practiced poker face.

Then I made a very mature decision. In that instant, I knew that what had just occurred was so devastating, so career-ruiningly horrible, that I did not yet possess the proper brain circuits or learned coping mechanisms to deal with it. I decided to stow it away in the recesses of my mind, move on with my life, and wait until such time as I was better equipped to handle such things.
What I didn't know at the time was this: it was just the beginning, the smallest scrap of beach on an island of humiliation that would emerge, slow but steady, as the warm, protective ocean of my childhood dried up around me. I live a rich and wonderful life, but it's a life studded with moments like this, more than my fair share and, to my memory, it all began here.

Which is not to say it's all for naught. A serious adaptation for life stemmed from that slice of eighth grade horror: I no longer wear underpants. I wear panties, chosen with such cautious deliberation that, should a pair escape from out of my pant leg right now, I would feel nothing but pride, and you would feel nothing but desire.

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52 comments:

Lovely Lark and 4 said...

"as we've all learned, an extra layer dulls sensation, no matter how thin."

Dying.

Razmataz said...

The same thing happened to me in Pier One. I was with my mother and when they fell out, I snatched them up and shoved them inside my coat. My mother saw part of it and thought I had stolen something and kept demanding to see what I had. What ensued was me and mum, laughing so hard we couldn't move, with tears rolling down our faces and both almost peeing ourselves. Thank you for bringing back this memory to me. In class it must have been far worse!

Ashley said...

It's my own personal policy to always wear sexy underwear. Not only do they give you a killer confidence boost the second you get dressed, but you'll feel much better should you become de-pantsed due to injury or foul play.

Jessica said...

Melina.. we are Underpant sisters. It happened to me in high school, getting off the school bus. I snatched them up and shoved them in my hoodie pocket. They were purple with "Thursday" written on the butt although I'm sure it wasn't actually Thursday. The bus driver raised his eyebrows and a sweet girl in the front seat(her name is Leah, she has downsyndrome) whispered to me, "Don't worry, I won't tell!"

Anonymous said...

This post elevates you to Queen status. Incredibly funny. So glad you survived this far!!

Miranda Roth said...

My mom always used to say "Never wear holy underpants" presumably in case something like this happened. Of course, I always assumed she meant holy as in related somehow to religion or God or something really weird...imagine 8-year-old me wincing at the thought of Crucifixion-themed undies. Ah, the wonders of the English language.

Lynn said...

This made me laugh out loud. Sorry, is that being insensitive....but I could just picture it.
Also, this happened to my boyfriend, (who happens to be 57 years old), only it happened about two months ago. His underpants (or "drawers" as he calls them) slid down and out the bottom of his shorts leg...because the elastic was stretched out. However, he cared not. Didn't faze him one bit.
Guess you gotta be old to not care about stuff like this, right?

Melina said...

@raz

Oh, thank you for sharing that story. I can just picture that, you clutching your underwear as your mother demands to see what you've 'shoplifted'. Hilarious. xo

Melina said...

@lovely.

yes, I thought that just needed to be in this essay, even though mom reads here.

Melina said...

@ashley.

"due to injury or foul play"

that line had me on the floor. I love it.

xo

Natalie said...

I absolutely adore your blog. As life has become busier, there are few blogs that I still read. However, yours will now be on that list of ones that I will check weekly. I will look forward to your adventures, your Will stories, and, yes, that special moment when you one day hold your baby in your arms, too. You have those unique, special qualities that make you completely and utterly likable in so many wonderful ways.

Melina said...

@Jessica.

I honestly didn't know this happened to other people. and now the stories are piping through my instagram and the blog and I'm learning it's a common occurrence...yet still so hilarious. "Don't worry, I won't tell." Love it.

xo

Melina said...

Hey Miranda- remember how you used to purge the undies with holes in them when we lived together? I started doing that too. (I was about to say 'you rubbed off on me' but due to the subject matter that sounded a little dicey.) I now proudly vanquish the super old patagonias and anything with a rip.

I miss you.

Jacki said...

I am cackling at the extra layer dulls sensation and the ending - awesome policy, I think I need to go examine my underwear drawer now because those suckers are decidedly old tattered underpants that should only be worn during period week or laundry day. Not a sexy one in the bunch, how did this happen!

Melina said...

@Lynn


I think age helps, but at the ripe old age of nearly-28 I'm starting to get phased less and less. Like, 'ah, this old bit. this will be hilarious in five...four....three...."

I LOVE how you described this incident with your boyfriend. "Drawers." Love this.

Melina said...

@Jacki

well, remember when you resupply not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Because tattered period week underpants are very, very important to, as we ladies have come to know.

xo
lina

Stephanie said...

I found you through Kelle's blog and you are just a breath of fresh air. This story made me laugh as I had a similar experience that is buried deep in my mind. You seem so fun and cool! If you ever travel to Charlotte, I'll buy you a drink!

Meg G said...

I call them Undies. Always have, always will. My husband hates that I call them that. I am SO not a panties person. I call his boxers Undies too, just because I know it annoys him.
True love.
And in 6th grade my best friend since 2nd grade told an entire table of new boys (all elementary schools converge in 6th grade) that I sharted while watching Batman in 3rd grade. She embellished a lot of the story but sad to say, it followed me to high school where every so often I would hear the Batman theme song hummed.

Melina said...

Natalie

Well thank you! That's a very nice thing you said about me, and I do appreciate it. Life IS busy. I appreciate you stopping by. Thanks for introducing yourself.

xox
Lina

Melina said...

@Stephanie

Hey, welcome! I travel so much for work, you never know! I love North Carolina, I used to live in Boone! And I hope to live in Asheville.

xo
Melina

cindy said...

i have this weird feeling you're the next david sedaris, but with an adventure spin.

Melina said...

Cindy, when are you coming home?

kerwin said...

Love it! Hopefully they were freshly washed.

I have a similar story, but I was an adult. I had recently joined a triathlon team that did a group spinning class once a week during the off-season. These were real-deal serious athletes and I wanted ohsobadly to impress (mostly fellas). I brought all my junk to the class, which included one of those REI super absorbant towels that gets a weird texture the more you wash it. And the weirder the texture, the more it turns into a strange velcro-type garment.

I chose a bike at the back of the room, because I was intimidated. I draped my towel over the bars and commenced with the class. I saw the instructors eyes get wide about 10 minutes into the class but I just figured she was horrified with my form or something. Then there were stares and snickers. It wasn't until I went to use the towel that I saw that there was a thong plastered to the side facing the entire room. Total class act.

I never went back.

And only creepy people say panties.

Ren Caldwell said...

Fab. :) Miss you tons!!

Melina said...

@kerwin I love everything about your story, from your description of 'velcro like' towels to 'thong plastered'.

I can't believe this hasn't happened to me yet. Except it wouldn't be a thong, I just wrapped my mind (or anything else) around those quite yet.

Melina

Melina said...

Ren. This chica needs you big time.

DIANE said...

"...I would feel nothing but pride, and you would feel nothing but desire."

And that is only the most perfect ending to that story! =)

DIANE said...

"...I would feel nothing but pride, and you would feel nothing but desire."

And that is only the most perfect ending to this story. =)

Aligna @ ShopgirlsJourney said...

ok first off YOU ARE HILARIOUS!! I stumbled ok thats a lie i deliberately went to your blog after reading Kelle hamptons guest post from you. And i love your writing how real, how funny you are and now your my new favorite blogger:).. I promise not to stalk you too much..just a little ok

Shannon Brown said...

THAT was absolutely brilliant! You are my favorite author. Please write a book. now.

Melina said...

Diane, thank you for saying that....it's how I end the story when I perform it, but it makes a tad less sense when written. But I decided to go for it anyway ;)

Melina said...

Shopgirl! It's not stalking, it's just reading, and I'm so glad you're reading.

xo

Melina said...

Shannon.

Thank you! Book: I'm on it. I'm just hoping I can hammer it out before I die. ugh.

xo

dig this chick said...

Oh soul sister! You and me both with the stumbles and static cling. Good thing you're so graceful and funny -- you pull it all off so well.

x

ps Oh those cords. I think I had the same pair!

Jaime said...

It's hard for me to imagine someone with so much courage being embarressed about anything! Then again I can't imagine anyone not having at least one humiliating middle school story to tell.

Thank you for your honesty. I love your blog!

Jaime said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Chex said...

I was raised by my southern granny who ingrained in me "Real ladies wear clean, appealing panties because you never know if you'll get in a horrific car accident and someone might have to cut off your pants." Duly noted-- I rarely wear then now a'days. Thanks for the laugh!

Emily said...

Oh, that last line.

Amy said...

This happened to a friend once. A 6 day hike through rugged terrain. YOu know the kind, when the only thing there is room for you in your pack is food and clean underwear. As we hiked the second to last day, so we are basically the dirtiest we will be, she bent down to re-tie her boot and somehow, there in her hand, were her dirty underwear from the day before. In front of our entire group of hikers. We all cheered, there was no embarrassment, because really, we smelled so bad that nobody gave a shit any more.

Melina said...

hey Dig! our old cords belong in a museum, I think. I'm so glad you called me graceful. That's probably the first and last time, so I'm savoring it.

Melina said...

Jaime-

thank you! i still get embarrassed, you better believe it! but thanks for the kind words. yeah, nobody gets out of middle school unscathed...

xo

Melina said...

Ha, Mrs. Chex...that's especially true if, like me, you have a thing for paramedics....

Melina said...

Emily.

thanks. i was hoping it would pack a punch.

xo

Melina said...

Amy- I love this!! reminds me of why I go outside in the first place, this kind of thing not only flies in that community....but it enhances the experience times a thousand.
xo

Deanna Gohn said...

I decided to check out your new post during an otherwise uneventful lunch break at my desk. I was enjoying a big slurp of Dr. Pepper when I read the line about the kid being both curious and deranged with excitement. I seriously almost blew Dr. Pepper all over my keyboard. Hilarious!

I loved everything about this story, including the ending. You're adorable, fo reals. Keep 'em coming. I need lunchtime entertainment!!

Melina said...

Deanna, that was my favorite line! I hope you didn't blow dr. pepper onto your keyboard, i've done that, and it was terrible.

expensive.

and, embarrassing.

xo

Sara, Plain and Tall said...

okay, girl, you've done it AGAIN. here's where i get real, and tell the world in your comments section that when i was in college (oh yeah, never too old to horribly embarrass yourself!) i raced on wednesdays to make it to ROTC (i had a scholarship that eventually made me an officer--hah the people they attract) on time after being in class all morning. i slipped out of my jeans and button down shirt and ballet flats to don my digital print uniform, and unbeknownst to me as i changed from regular bra to sports bra that my regular bra had firmly attached itself to the velcro on my pants pocket. as i raced around trying to meet the guys outside the dorm who were driving us to the woods i failed to notice. mortification ensued when i realized standing outside the dorm, having said hello to god and everyone i knew and NO ONE mentioned to me that i had my most unattractive piece of undergarment dangling from my pants. i'm with you. i now only buy things "chosen with such cautious deliberation that, should a pair escape from out of my pant leg right now, I would feel nothing but pride, and you would feel nothing but desire." --phew, i feel like i've just been to confession.

Anonymous said...

This, I hope, will make you feel better. Before my husband and I were married, we lived together. We had had quite an "eventful" afternoon, when we got an unexpected knock at our front door. We quickly threw on clothes, and answered the door. It was my husbands father. He was dropping off something--we needed to get from the back of his car. So we trecked out, me in the first thing I could grab, a pair of ill fitting black cotton pants. We were standing there, with his dad, at his car, when my panties(yep)fell out of my pant leg. Cute, frilly, very little material, panties. I was mortified. He tried to pretend he didn't notice. Ha! This takes me back!

Michelle said...

Oh my goodness -- last sentence was the perfect ending to a very long day. Hilarious. Thank you!

Brandi Shope said...

I was the type of teen that picked my clothes out the night before. One morning I couldn't find my bra. I put another one on the next morning and ran out to catch the bus. As I was getting ready to climb the stairs I saw the 1st bra beginning to fall out of my pant leg! I vividly remember quickly pulling it out and shoving it up my coat sleeve before any other kids noticed. Whether the school bus driver saw I have no idea, I didn't look at her to see! :)

Karen said...

My Freshman year college roommate had a deeply rooted crush on a co-ed with whom she shared a class or two (sorry my period and comma keys are busted!) and at some point they started meeting up to do laundry
She and I passed on the dorm stairs one day as she headed off to one of the classes he was in As she walked past me heading down the stairs there they were- a pair of Eddie's fresh clean boxer shorts static clung to the back of her sweatshirt! Ha ha! (yes I told her :-)

Karen said...

My Freshman year college roommate had a deeply rooted crush on a co-ed with whom she shared a class or two (sorry my period and comma keys are busted!) and at some point they started meeting up to do laundry
She and I passed on the dorm stairs one day as she headed off to one of the classes he was in As she walked past me heading down the stairs there they were- a pair of Eddie's fresh clean boxer shorts static clung to the back of her sweatshirt! Ha ha! (yes I told her :-)