I’m wearing my friend Merri’s blue underwear, which sounds weird when I type it out like that, and probably is weird, but is also necessary. I’m flying home from a rock-n-roll road trip we took together. I’m wearing a see through white dress. (I didn’t have time to change out of my rock-n-roll attire before hitting the airport.) I ran out of underwear on day two of our road trip (planning ahead is not my strong suit), and in a white dress, going commando is not an option.
Last night, Merri and I spoke of my predicament in hushed tones pre-rock show. “Can you see my coochie?” I asked.
“Kinda,” she answered. “You’d better wear underwear.”
“Uh, yeah. There’s the problem. I don’t have any.”
Merri is a problem solver. All of my friends are. They have to be. I am nothing if not a walking problem. I have no idea why they put up with me. Finally, Merri quipped, “I don’t know how you feel about this, but you wanna wear my underwear?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” I replied.
Now, Merri is a ninja with a very tight ass. I am a non-ninja, so there were questions about which of her panties might fit me. Finally, she pulled a blue pair from her drawer. “These will work,” she said.
Well, no, they wouldn’t, not really, since they’d be blazing blue beneath my see-through dress, but it was better than showing coochie at the rock show. As soon as I put them on, Merri pointed out that I was dressed in a bride-ish dress, wearing something old (my bracelet), something new (my dress), something borrowed and blue (her panties). This seemed to bode well for my love life, so I refused the white thong she found minutes later on principle.
It’s been a weird underwear week for me. Just days ago, I was in New Orleans visiting my friend Jeni, who is also a problem solver with a tight ass. (However, she is a yoga master, not a ninja.) Now, if you keep up with my column on this press, you know that I have a new fake tooth. What you don’t know is that it hurts when I eat. So I’ve pretty much given up on eating. Jeni, I, and her boyfriend Daniel, who is the sort of charming, sweet man that makes a girl believe love might be possible after all, attended Jazz Fest together, indulging in libations throughout the day. We waded knee deep in smelly mud to reach a spot from which we could observe Fleetwood Mac in all their glory, and when we were sufficiently landslided, went to Juliet’s, a delightful visitor from Scotland, and drank wine by the pool. (Keep in mind I was refusing to eat.) After that, we went to a crawfish boil at the Boydens.
The Boydens are both ridiculously good looking, wildly successful novelists. I’m pretty sure God created them mostly to make the rest of us look bad. They live in a house that looks like something from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and it would be so easy to hate them for all of this, except they are also magical and kind and generous, and in the interest of sharing their good fortune, they throw lavish parties that feel like scenes from The Great Gatsby. Writers and other unsavory characters attend these shin-digs, and needless to say, libations abound. And as I mentioned, I have given up eating. But you can’t go to a party like that and not do something, so what I did was drink.
I said all that so that you would understand why, after the party, I fell into a bed at Jeni’s wearing everything I’d been wearing at the party, including my shoes. Here’s where the story gets weird. The next morning, I woke up wearing everything I’d gone to the party wearing. Everything but my panties. I was immediately stricken with panic. Just what kind of trouble had I gotten myself into at the Boyden’s crawfish boil? I wasn’t sure I should even mention the problem to Jeni. I thought about broaching the subject casually over coffee, or maybe during brunch. “So, um, hey, yeah. I woke up without my panties. Can you shed any light on that?” There’s really never a great time to utter that sentence. It turned out I didn’t have to because after brunch, Jeni approached me delicately and pressed a wad of black lace into my hands. “Here’s your underwear,” she said. She didn’t seem to think this was even mildly abnormal. Maybe it’s not for me. I’m kinda odd. Anyway, Jeni’s brunches are gourmet experiences, so I was glad she didn’t spoil the ambiance with the revelation of my missing panties over salmon puffs. My first thought, upon receiving my underwear from a person I trust implicitly was, “Oh, thank God. I don’t have the herp.” My second thought was, “What the hell is Jeni doing with my panties?”
This is probably a good time to mention that I sleepwalk. I do weird things when I sleepwalk. I rarely remember them in the morning. One night, I ran into my son’s room, inexplicably screaming, “Rami, Rami, Rami,” the name of a tour guide who once showed us around Israel. Another time, I walked into a friend’s bedroom, turned on all the lights, and got into bed with her and her boyfriend. (You can imagine how delightful it is to hear these stories from my friends and family the mornings that follow my sleepwalking episodes. Somebody shoot me, please.) At a hotel in Mexico, I stumbled around shrieking “Where am I? Where am I?” much to the chagrin of my travel partner, who, incidentally, was taking her first road trip with me ever. For reasons I cannot fathom, she became one of my best friends after that, in spite of this clear indicator of my insanity.
So on the pantiless night at Jeni’s, apparently, I walked through the house opening and closing all the doors, including the door to Jeni and Daniel’s bedroom. When Jeni came into the living room to see what all the fuss was about, I was crouched in the corner, taking off my panties. She said she could tell I was asleep. She put me back to bed. Thank God. Can you imagine what might have happened had my little impromptu strip tease continued unimpeded? (No, Jeni! I was not coming on to you and Daniel when I turned on all the lights in your room and crawled into your bed wearing nothing but Daniel’s hat!)
Incidentally, I think my behavior during this particular trip was exceptionally unconventional, even for me, because at one point, Daniel asked in his clipped, British accent, “How do you survive? Who takes care of you when Jeni isn’t around?” He seemed genuinely concerned. When I answered, “Jesus,” Daniel said, “He must be saying, ‘Oh, thank God. Jeni’s got her. I finally get a day off.’” You know, you take your panties off in someone’s living room one time, and suddenly, you’re “not well-adjusted.” (I may or may not have dived into a pool wearing all of my clothes as well.)
Other members of the weird writer family to which I belong had different responses to my bout of exhibitionism. Eric, who was slotted to sleep on Jeni’s couch that night, and opted to stay at the Boydens’ instead, seemed to regret his decision very much when he heard about my sleepwalking strip tease. “Tawni took off her underwear, and I missed it?” he said, his voice dripping with disappointment.
Which brings me back to the underwear I’m wearing today. Well, not really, but we’re going to go there anyway. Last night, I wore my lucky blue panties to a club called Webster Hall in New York City. Webster Hall has a long history of “lucky” for me. Years ago, when Merri and I were both going through relationship dry spells (I say this as if our entire lives haven’t been relationship dry spells), we went to this same club. I’ve never been one for sleazy club encounters, but that night, a professional tennis player named Lucky approached me. I wasn’t particularly attracted to him, but kissing a guy named Lucky seemed like it might be, well, lucky, so I gave it a shot. One kiss, and I also gave him my phone number, just to be polite, thinking he was a professional athlete, and he probably got 60 numbers a night and wouldn’t even remember me by morning. Then I high tailed it out of there and told Merri we had to leave immediately because Lucky was starting to get handsy, and no way in hell was Lucky going to get lucky tonight.
Unbeknownst to me, while I was meeting, kissing, and ditching Lucky, Merri was meeting, kissing, and really digging a cute, sweet sailor who was shipping off the next day and who happened to remind her of someone she was very much in love with and missing terribly. I, being as I am the antithesis of the voice of reason, and being prone to living vicariously through my friends, told her, “Take him home!”
I did not realize that Sailor had a very stinky friend who was with him for the night, come hell or high water. Apparently, they were a package deal. When I say “stinky,” I am not referencing mild body odor. You know when you watch The Walking Dead, and you imagine how awful the world must smell, being inhabited as it is mostly by walking dead bodies? That’s how this guy smelled.
So Merri, Sailor, Stinky, and I all climbed into a cab just in time to see Lucky dashing madly out of the club, looking for me. He must have thought I was his Cinderella or something, because after that, he called me weekly for a year, leaving desperate, lovesick voicemails. I thought about calling him back and explaining that I had only kissed him hoping his name would make me lucky, and it hadn’t. In fact, shortly after kissing him, I met a strikingly handsome ex-convict who made the next two years of my life a living hell. But what was the point? That conversation would have been more hurtful than helpful, and at the time, the ex-convict was still in the picture and probably would have hunted down poor Lucky and dismembered him just for being interested in me.
So, hasta la vista, Lucky. Through the window of the cab, I see you waving at me frantically. I’m waving back, politely, like I think you’re trying to say goodbye, not flag me down. Merri and Sailor are continuing their kiss-fest. And dear God in heaven, Stinky is trying to plant one on me. “No,” I say firmly, holding up a finger, as if I am speaking to a very small child or an unruly dog. “You are not allowed to touch me. Just because my friend is kissing your friend does not mean you can kiss me.” Stinky is a slow learner. He keeps trying. I keep saying no, thinking maybe he needs one of those shock collars they use to train badly behaved pets.
Finally, we arrive back at Merri’s apartment, which, by the way, is the size of a postage stamp. There are two places to sleep. A bed, which is clearly going to be occupied by Merri and Sailor, and a futon, which is clearly going to be occupied by me. . .and Stinky.
I’m not sure how to describe the events that transpired. Imagine spending a night in the bowels of hell, and you may get the picture. I drew an imaginary line in the middle of the mattress and told Stinky he was not to cross it. By this time, Stinky’s considerable inebriation was beginning to kick-in full force, so he made a few fumbling attempts at groping me, after which he mercifully passed out. However, his smell did not fade with his consciousness. It lingered, permeating my nostrils like Satan’s excrement. I began to hate Stinky simply because he’d somehow managed to reach legal drinking age (he wasn’t much over that) without discovering that showering more than once a month is a necessary nicety in our society. Meanwhile, it sounded like Merri and the sailor were getting along swimmingly (no pun intended). I began to hate them too. I began to contemplate sleeping in the bathtub. I began to contemplate jumping out the second story window to the relative safety of the concrete below.
I did not sleep that night. Stinky did. Oh, did he ever. He snored, sounding something like a dying water buffalo. Oh, how I loathed Stinky by the time dawn’s merciful first light woke him. He made one last fumbling attempt at kissing me, after which he stormed away. Merri kissed her sailor goodbye. The whole place smelled like death. I am not making this up. Merri had to THROW AWAY the bedding, including the mattress, that Stinky had slept on, because try as she might, she could not wash the stench away. This is the greatest proof I have of my deep and abiding love for my friend. I slept next to what smelled in the dark like an enormous pile of excrement so she could mend her broken heart. “You owe me big time,” I told her. We busted open a bottle of wine at 9 a.m. I needed a drink after a night like that.
If these lucky, blue panties work out and bring me the love of my life, I’ll consider the debt paid in full. If not, and I ever need a kidney (or more likely, a liver), guess whose doorstep I’m showing up on.