They seem so out of place, lying crumpled on the gravel drive. Once green, they have now faded to a sickish yellow. Perhaps they were once delicate. Private.
But there they are, displayed for all to see. There they sit through sun, through rain, through snow. They are ground into the gravel by cars and side-stepped countless times by passing sneakers. It is a sad, hopeless existence. No one will claim them, and no one will remove them to a dignified resting place. Even the dumpster seems a welcome alternative, in sight but just out of reach for the helpless, floppy panties.
How did they come to this fate? What did their existence consist of before their fall? It’s likely that no one will ever truly know the tale. Offered here is one possibility.
It all begins at conception. A more than slightly pervy middle aged man lounges in a posh leather chair at a Victoria’s Secret office. His days are spent meticulously designing undergarments he hopes will make ladies feel sexy. The trouble is, chicks are so hard to please. One poor word choice or wayward hand, and they shut you down. He leans forward, props his chin on his hand, smashing his greasy jowls into his knuckles as he ponders the mystery of women. But he doesn’t think for long. Thinking is hard, and it seldom pays off for him. He sketches out the panties on a notepad. “These will really show off a good butt,” he muses. Lace is always sexy. Never mind the itch factor. Never mind the utter lack of functionality. He has, in fact, never worn lace. He doesn’t know, but if he did he wouldn’t change a thing. Bright colors catch his attention. They’re exciting. Pink? Overdone. Orange? No. Lime green. Perfect. He leans back, pushes the notepad away and bites into a tuna salad sandwich, dripping a glob of mayo on his shirt.
Once created, the panties are shipped to a modest Midwestern mall in Columbia, Missouri. Along with all the others of its kind, it is proudly displayed in a bin near the entrance. Hundreds of women pass them each week. Some stop, pick them up, finger the lace skeptically, and drop them back into the fluffy mountian of underwear. Some like lace, but eye the color suspiciously. Those girls prefer pink. Then one day the panties get their lucky break. They’re grabbed quickly and nervously balled into the fist of a college freshman. Hailing from a tiny town and sheltered background, she blushes every time she enters Vickie’s Secret. What if a boy sees her? What would her mother say? “What’s wrong with the white underwear I’ve always gotten you from Walmart?” That’s what her mother would say. “Why do you need something other than cotton? WHO’S GOING TO SEE THEM?” She would demand accusingly. But this is the start of a new life, of freedom. The girl at the register folds the panties neatly and tucks them into a pink and white striped bag.
Outside, a blustery wind almost snatches the panties away in their little travel bag, but the girl clutches it close to her chest and runs for the car. Tiny white snowflakes swirl erratically in the gray January sky. The panties are jostled out of their neat fold as the girl tosses the bag in the back seat of her blue Honda Civic. They’re ready to finally live a life of adventure. Would they be smashed inside skin-tight designer blue jeans, peeking obnoxiously out of the top when the girl bent or moved? Or would the panties’ presence be more subtle- tucked modestly away under loose, nondescript khakis?
But things don’t go quite as planned. As the girl maneuvers her little Honda into a spot near the dorms, she catches her breath. Her eyes lock onto their target- standing at 5’9” with broad shoulders, thin build, and sandy brown hair is the object of her secret late night pinings. The blood rushes to her round cheeks as she remembers the panties. Why does the bag have to be so conspicuous? Why? Darkness swallows the panties as the girl quickly tosses a hoodie over the bag. The glow of the dome light is brief, the door slams. The temperature drops to 25 Fahrenheit that night, and the hidden panties are stone cold. But this won’t be their worst night.
Weeks pass. The freshman hardly ever uses her car, and when she does, she never retrieves her lime green panties. They are crushed mercilessly one day when a sack of library books is plopped onto their pink and white haven. Still, she doesn’t think about the bag or the panties waiting inside. The stresses of school consume her thoughts like fast-growing weeds, choking out all dreams of adventure. Sometimes she misses her mother, misses home, even misses high school.
Long before the panties came into existence, before college, the girl had dreamed of owning sexy things like the other girls at her high school. But things like that weren’t for her. She was slightly less than ordinary. Dances came and went, and no boy ever once asked her. She went anyway, hoping to get asked for just one dance. Standing in a department store dressing room, she begged her mother for the glittery dress with plunging neckline and side slit. “No. It’s far too expensive. Besides, you look like a hussy in that.” The panties represent the answer to every one of the girl’s broken dreams. They will make her feel desirable, like the actresses in magazines she buys at the grocery store. Like the popular girls from her high school. It doesn’t matter if no one ever sees them. She will know.
Just before January slips into February, the freshman gets the chance of her life. The same sandy-haired boy she had seen the day she bought the panties needs a ride. He wants to go to a party on Lyon Street. He’ll be way too wasted to get himself home, he needs a D.D. There’s no one around to sucker into it, except that one quiet girl. She never goes out on thirsty Thursdays, but he knows all he has to do is ask. He knows her type- she’ll do just about anything because she’s never had the chance. The panties hide silently in the back as their owner drives a boy who isn’t even decent enough to make small talk with her. “Here it is,” he points to an old house surrounded by cars and seeping a Fergie song from the eaves. “Uh, can I have your number?” he asks as she stops the car. Her heart jumps into her throat and her eyes go wide. “I don’t know when I’ll need you to come back.” Oh. Of course. She struggles to keep her composure as she mumbles her number. She speeds away as soon as he slams the door. The panties lie where they always have in the back as she sits in a parking lot sobbing and sniffing.
She sits forever, listening to soft rock on her radio. She thinks about dying, but not suicide. She doesn’t have the nerve. Eventually, she slinks back to her dorm and flops on her bed. The panties are left again. Around 2 AM, her phone rings. She wants to scream. She wants to throw her phone against the wall. She wants to forget the boy ever existed. But she’s never been one for dramatic acts. She answers the phone and grabs her keys.
She sticks her key in the ignition, feeling pathetic. Her self esteem hasn’t fallen this low in a long time. The panties in the back seat beg for attention, and for the first time in almost a month, they are seen. The girl stares at them for a second, then whips around in her seat and grabs the bag. She tears it in half, ripping a jagged scar across the perfect pink and white lines. The lacy green panties fall into her lap, and she stares at them blankly. Laughing cynically, she presses her foot to the accelerator.
The panties lay draped across her right thigh as she drives. Suddenly, the are just frilly green things. They are obnoxious. Ugly, even. She can almost see a pervy middle-aged man dreaming them up. They don’t defend themselves. They just lay there. The girl doesn’t know why she drives to the party. But as she sees the former object of her secret late night pinings stumbling stupidly across the lawn, she knows exactly what to do. She slows enough to ensure he sees her. He grins like an idiot and pauses to shout something inaudible at a drunk girl in a miniskirt who’s on her knees, vomiting in the grass. As the blue Civic rolls up, the girl sticks her hand out the window and gives the boy the finger. She’s not listening to soft rock anymore. She’s rocking out.
She turns impulsively and a little too quickly at the first street she comes to- a gravel drive that curves behind some apartments and spits out on another residential street. As she does, the panties slide off her lap onto the floor. She reaches down and clutches them. They sit balled up in her fist as her car window rolls down. Then the girl chucks the panties as hard as she can out the window. They unfurl and glide through the air for a moment. The panties are flying- the most action they’ve ever seen. But it’s short-lived. They settle, slightly wrinkled, on the road. The Civic leaves them literally in a cloud of dust in the frigid, dark night.
The girl never looks back. There they are, displayed for all to see. There they sit through sun, through rain, through snow… Even the dumpster seems a welcome alternative, in sight but just out of reach for the helpless, floppy panties.