It had been one of those days where everyone has a complicated question for you and everyone is in a hurry. By my lunch break, I was exhausted. I didn't want to think anymore. I glanced over the magazine exchange in the library lobby and grabbed the glossiest, most colorful magazine I could find. Safely ensconced behind the break room's heavy wooden door, I lounged across the couch for an hour of daydreaming.
I flipped through the magazine aimlessly, admiring the photos of decorating tips, trying to imagine my own tchotchkes displayed on the end table next to what they touted as “the perfect love seat”. I briefly skimmed the note from the editor about this month’s wonderful offerings.
But, there! Just there!
After the table of contents and twenty pages of advertisements, but before the twenty pages of recipes that I'll never try because they use more ingredients than I can count on one hand, an article full of pretty pictures and soothing words like “Self Care” and “Put Yourself First” lured me in.
“We all need a break sometimes,” the article said. “Don’t underestimate the importance of refilling the well!”
I ripped the page from the magazine and put it in my purse.
After work, I wandered the aisles of Target, using the suggestions in the magazine article as a shopping list. I ignored any suggestions that required effort - “Try a new exercise,” or “Take an art class at the community college,” - determined to indulge in every small and frivolous thing.
“Buy yourself flowers,” it said. I chose pink carnations to match the pink and blue blown-glass vase I keep on my nightstand.
“Indulge in extra dark chocolate.” I spent a good ten minutes deciding which delectable bar would come home with me and be my friend.
My basket and my well slowly filled: a sample bottle of lotion in a tropical scent, a pair of delightfully fluffy socks, a yoga video from the $5 bin, new tea.
“Buy yourself new underwear,” the article said.
Oh, hey! That’s new, I thought. I can do that. I could get all sorts of cool colors. It’ll be great.
Full of naïve optimism, I meandered to the women’s underwear section.
One does not simply walk into Mordor. Women’s underwear is an endeavor not to be undertaken lightly. If you expect to stroll right on by and toss a pack of underwear into your basket as you pass just because some sissy magazine told you to, you're sorely mistaken.
Women have as many types of underwear as Eskimos have words for snow. Briefs, boyshorts, hipsters, high-cuts – all of the various styles in every conceivable size were hanging in orderly rows, yet in no particular order, as if a horde of naked women had descended on the aisle, paying no regard to the mess they made in their desperate hurry to cover themselves.
I set my basket down and went to work. I always buy the bikini cut, which feels great on my exceptional hips and assures me that I’ll know, from seeing myself in the bathroom mirror, if I'll ever look good enough to upgrade to a real bikini at the pool. Several minutes of fruitless digging followed: here’s my size, but in boyshorts. Here’s bikini cut, but in the wrong size. Here’s bikini cut in my size, but they’re white, and I promised myself cool colors.
Every other woman in the world, ever, wears bikini cut in the exact same size as me, I thought, and they have bought them all, so that when I found the right cut in the right size in some fun colors, it was like winning the lottery. I grabbed my basket in one hand and my hard-fought underwear in the other and hurried to the checkout lanes, quitting while I was ahead.
But as I awaited my turn at the register, I noticed something disturbing. The underwear came in a resealable bag. There was a sticker on the bag advertising such.
This is a feature? Seriously, who needs a resealable bag for their underwear? And then I wondered: has this bag been opened already? Is it all wrinkled because I’ve manhandled the package or because someone else has pawed through this underwear and then resealed it?
I can’t tell.
“You know what?” I told the cashier. “Put the underwear back, please.”
That night, I felt refreshed. The well had been refilled. I put the flowers by my bed. I made myself a cup of the new tea. I ate the dark chocolate in a hot bath.
And then I slept naked, because, seriously, it’s way better than new underwear.