"I guess I don't really get the point of them," she said. "I'm not going to wear them anymore."
I shrugged and followed her lead. No more underwear. No problem.
For many years I'd been an underwear girl. I dug through discount bins, actively hunting silk and gaudy. Things that looked like they were scraps from the tropical-colored muumuus of state lottery winners. Twin triangles connected by strings. Lacy. Scalloped edges.
I started wearing what I believed to be sexy underwear well before I could possibly really understand the meaning of sexy underwear. And if I know that 14-year-old girl like I think I know that 14-year-old girl, she justified her purchases by saying something like: "I know no one sees them," shrug, "But it makes me feel prettier to know I'm wearing something sexy underneath my clothes." And I know that she read that line in either a hoarded modern-day bodice ripper, Seventeen magazine, or she saw it on the Lifetime Network. For as much as I like that girl, she is also a raging embarrassment.
I got out of the underwear business just in time. Soon after, thongs became a thing. I know me. I would have been one of those loyalists standing half-naked in a locker room telling strangers that, no, it didn't at all feel like I'd fallen crack-first on a tight rope. Maybe I would be lying. Or maybe I would have gotten used to it. Who knows? Not me. Not Fannie.
The only time it ever bothered me, not wearing underwear, was on New Year's Eve. The Italian foreign exchange student I'd been friends with in high school advised us all to wear red underwear on the last day of the year for good luck the following year. To avoid wearing green or purple at all costs. She also told us that Brenda Walsh was more popular with Italian viewers of "Beverly Hills: 90210" because the dubbed Italian voice that spoke her lines was more appealing than the dubbed Italian voice of Kelly Taylor. When high school graduation was held in our high school gymnasium and the after-party was a chaperoned casino night rather than an orgy on a beach in Santa Monica, I really felt for the poor girl and held on to her superstition to be nice. And because I'm superstitious. I continued to wear red underwear on New Year's Eve until Fannie's embargo. Admittedly, a handful of times the tug of a sure thing -- no strings attached good luck -- has been stronger than the tug of a certain lifestyle, and I've greeted Jan. 1 in red drawers.
Last week I decided to start wearing underwear again. Like all the time. The reason isn't any more well thought out than my initial decision not to. Although, I've had a lot of urinary tract infections in the past ten years. Probably more than most people. And most people wear underwear. I'm not a scientist. But, like I said, I am superstitious.
I've dabbled in underwear in the past and the moment that really stands out is when I forgot to pull them down before I went to the bathroom one time. Other times I've found them to be bulky and I've had flashbacks to the ruffled undies I wore under dresses as a tot.
More than a decade after I last went bulk underwear shopping, the world of underwear seems different now. Granny panties seem to have lost their stigma. Hip huggers and boy shorts feature adorable models on the package. The kind of normal girls you might want to be when you're just sitting around at home in your tank top and faux boxer briefs on a Saturday night, eating Activia and smiling. Frankly, I'm thrilled. They are comfortable. They are cute. Both cheeks are fully covered in fabric. I am one pair of shiny nylons and an invisible rope from looking like a super hero.
I know that no one sees them, but it makes me feel tougher to know that I look like Wonder Woman underneath my clothes.