It was underwear that was my undoing. I call it my tidy whitey (0thers would say tighty whitey) moment. Mentioning tidy whiteys at a social gathering made me acknowledge something I already knew. I am conversationally challenged. I hoped I would develop polite conversation some day. Guess not. Now in my 50s it looks like I am never going to acquire the kind of grace that makes you popular at parties.
I should have lived years ago when people communicated via letters. I am an excellent letter writer. I ponder the words before I write them and they flow from my pen with grace and ease. I seem smart, calm and controlled with words on paper. But put me in a room full of people expecting me to make small talk and I will freeze. I stare at the person talking to me. After a moment of awkward silence, words dart from my mouth often making no sense at all. Those are the times I cherish. The times I dread are when my words actually make sense and people in the room turn to look at me as all conversation ceases.
Such was the case with my comment about tidy whiteys. Who actually talks about tidy whiteys at a party. Well, I guess I do. And not just any tidy whiteys. I talk about tidy whiteys that belong to a parent of one of the middle aged people in the room!
On my tidy whitey afternoon I was attending a birthday party with a large group of people. Being polite, these people were asking me many, many questions. What have you been doing lately? How is work? How was your trip? All these questions, questions, questions made me feel uncomfortable and in the spotlight. I have a quirky personality and was trying to downplay my zany side in an attempt to appear normal and conservative (which I am not). All of this stress finally caused me to crack. I turned to one gentleman and said, “I love the story about your dad and the tidy whiteys.” All conversation in the room ceased as he said, “Enlighten me.”
I said, “The story about the tidy whiteys and your dad and mom.” He said, “I don’t know that story.” I looked around the room for support and finding none I pressed on. “Well, hmmm.” With no exit route I continued.
“I love this story. Really. It was a Saturday. Your mom and dad went into town to the cafe for breakfast. After breakfast they went shopping. Then they visited friends. Finally they stopped at your brother’s home a few hours later. When your brother saw them he said, ‘Mom, what is that on your shoulder?’ Something was stuck to the back of her sweater with static cling. He reached up and pulled off a pair of your dad’s tidy whiteys that had been attached to her sweater all morning.”
As I finished I looked around. People were immobile.
I thought, come on, a woman had been all around town with a pair of underwear stuck on the back of her sweater! No one told her for hours. She was wearing underwear on the outside of her clothing all morning! This was priceless…to me. Silence reigned.
My daughter, who could have helped me left the room. My husband pretended to contemplate the space time continuum.
I didn’t know what to do. I looked around the room and found one face smiling at me. It was my one year old grandson. I sat down on the floor and started to play with him. Eventually conversation picked up again, minus me. My grandson crawled on top of me and knocked me over, leaning down to blow raspberries on my belly. I erupted with joy. Finally, my peer group!