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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

Ellen's Undies

March 15, 1997

"We probably know more about your foundations than anything else about you."  Wide-eyed, I gazed at the speaker.  It was Patty Denison, visiting from Teslin, getting caught up on gossip and volunteering a critique of a winter's worth of columns.  She returned my look in her direct and straight-forward way, and continued. 

"I've been keeping track, you know, and so far we have discovered that you wear flannellette Mother Hubbards, Phil's longjohns with the trapdoor sewn shut, a Cross-Your-Heart bra, and use a light coating of Pam to facilitate the removal of your I Can't Believe It's a Girdle, girdle!"

Well, see, I want you to know that I am past being surprised by the  pastimes of people trying to wile away a lazy, rainy afternoon.  But I have to admit that I was somewhat bemused by the foregoing.  The subject of my unmentionables never did seem to be grist for my literary mill.  A line, here or there in passing, sometimes helps to pad out an otherwise undernourished little paragraph but it never occurred to me that someone might be keeping records.

On the otherhand, why not a column on my nethergarments?  Just to fill in the gaps in Patty's information, if nothing else, and certainly not as far out as some subjects I've raved on about.

Now, a column about Patty's lingerie would be a meager thing indeed; just a line or two about her skimpy, lacy bra and nothing bikini britches.  With her tan, she probably doesn't even wear stockings... just runs a line of glosser along her shinbones, dabs the old toenails with a bit of Frosted Crowberry polish, and that's it!  But when you're into undergarments in my size, so to speak, you've embarked on a subject of definite substance.

I lied, for instance, when I led you to believe that I wore something as inconsequential as a Cross-Your-Heart bra.  No sir, no little scraps of stretch knit Spandex for me.  Instead, I wear that miracle of modern engineering, the Playtex l8-Hour longline with the Spanette  power net sides and back, all held firmly in place by bands of steel and whippy wire coils. 

Does great things for the midriff.   Mind you, its "hidden, 2-inch, waist-slimming action" tends to push those couple inches of waist material down to a region that can't take much more excess.  And the "firm support" molds my bazooms into a solid shelf-like projection in the immediate area of my collarbones.  But I really like the Playtex bra.  Especially when I take it off.

The invention of pantyhose has done more towards liberating women than any other single inovation except, maybe, the bra bonfires of the early '70's.  It was Hello, pantyhose, So Long side-zip girdles and lace-up corsets and Good Riddance forever and ever to the eternal anxious question, "Are my seams straight?" 

Of course, some of us still need an additional bit of nylon Spandex under the panty part, the "control tops" tending to lose their whip hand at the darndest times, but the only disadvantage to pantyhose, as far as I can see, are the contortions we go through to put them on.  I don't think it's only me, surely everyone who wears them must make those same decisions every morning.  One foot at a time?  Both feet?  Is the second leg gathered properly or will it go on upside down?  If it's upside down, can it be turned without taking it off?  If I don't turn it, will my posture that day be some where between a squat and a crouch?

But leaving the problems of smoothing and conturing and uplifting and flattering, let's talk about sizing.  That's like Small, Medium, and Large; 8, l4, 42, that sort of sizing.  It's all very familiar, I'm sure.  The S conjures forth images of slim; the M, a little sturdier but just about right; and the L, rounder, firmer, more fully packed.  But how large is L, really?  One lovingly misdirected young relative gifted me with a silky pair of underdrawers, sized L.  Now I ask you!  L?  L what?  An L eight-year-old?  A Barbi-Barbi gigantus?  The tag said L (38).  Since when is a 38-inch hip measurement considered L?  And does it follow that anyone with hindquarters adding up to 39 would be considered XL and anything after that XXL or, God help us, that most terrible word in the Big Mama glossary of descriptive words and expressions, OUTsize?

Now, personally, I would prefer my clothing to be labelled something like Big Gal, with its sporty overtones, or Queensize, a regal and imposing  image.  Even Matronly bears certain connotations of dignity and every large lady in the land could certainly endorse Junoesque.  But OUTsize!?

Don't those people in the garment trade know that we chubby little softies have enough troubles without being labled "OUTsized"?  There are ways to get around it, I suppose, and my way is probably not very unique.  "I'd like to look at some underwear, please," I tell the size S clerk. "Yes, madam," she answers loudly, "what size, please?"  I look around furtively and whisper, "OUT."  Invariably I add, "They're for my aunt."

So now you know it all, Patty, including why I walk bent over at that funny angle.  And if the reason for your interest was because you wanted to buy me a little gift for one reason or the other, I'd love to try something new in a nightie. 


Size "OUT." 

For my aunt.

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