Charlene was no Martha Stewart. But if there was anyone at St. Loquacious Ignatious that could pull together a cream puff tree, it was her. She baked the puffs and filled them, Band-Aid flapping over her right eye the entire time. She impressed herself, rising to the occasion with such a terrific handicap. Who else could bake and fill cream puffs with part of their face missing? Certainly not even Ms. Martha Stewart.
Charlene was feeling good - so good that she decided to have a glass of wine (just one, temperance is next to Godliness, so sayeth the Ladies Social Society as they sip their White Zinfandel) and come back to the cream puff tree later. She poured a glass, put Michael Bolton (that sexy beast!) on the CD player, and walked to her bedroom. Now might be a good time to try on that dress.
She finished her wine and started digging through her unmentionables drawer. Past the utility underwear, barely glancing at the 'special occasion' panties Darrell bought her for their 20th anniversary (Do I have them on backwards? She had asked him.). Back to the right hand corner where her Spanx lived, rolled up around a lavender sachet. Charlene embraced her shape. She was nearly fifty and had come to the conclusion a decade ago that what she had was a gift from God and she should love it and treat it well. Good treatment, she believed, included the occasional pecan pie or Oreo. She didn't think a single woman in the Ladies Social wore double digits, though. She had seen Kathy Mahony's eyes wander to her midsection as they talked.
She didn't like it, but if a visible panty line was the difference between getting in to the Ladies Social or spending eternity teaching four year old Sunday School, she'd suffer the Spanx.
They seemed impossibly small. She remembered the day she first brought them home and pulled them from the package. She looked at what appeared to be a pair of tights for a dwarf (little person, she mentally corrected herself), then at the size on the package. Maybe they use European sizing, she thought.
"Naw, that's just as big as they are. They stretch." Judy had told her over the phone. Charlene had never seen Judy with a single visible panty line, so she obviously knew what she was talking about.
That first time, it had taken her nearly twenty minutes to put them on. Now, she expertly rolled one leg of the supportive undergarment up and slipped it on. She rolled the second leg up, careful not to put her foot through the crotch-hole.
"There is a crotch-hole in there, Judy!" Charlene had yelled over the phone. "What in the fresh hell do you need a big hole in the crotch of your drawers for?" Charlene was worried that Darrell might think the hole was there for his convenience. Only Darrell could think of Spanx as an invitation.
Any fifty year old woman who drinks more than a single glass of White Zinfandel at church bingo can tell you exactly what that crotch-hole is for.
Michael Bolton was singing on the CD in the living room, and Charlene sang along, when a man loves a woman, as she rolled the Spanx up it's critical point, right across her c-section scar. Proper positioning was crucial at this moment, and required a kind of clean and jerk maneuver, or her midsection ended up looking like a can of biscuits that had blown out on one side.
The phone rang.
"Darrell!" Charlene said aloud and ran into the kitchen, Spanx halfway up. When she rounded the corner and passed the kitchen table, her bare foot hit a patch of spilled wax. Charlene's increased speed and decreased coordination sent her hurtling toward the floor. The Spanx held her legs together and she fell like a drunken mermaid that had suddenly been thrust upon dry land, flopping onto her knees and then face first, into the kitchen table.
She tasted the blood before she saw it.
"Damn damnit," she said, and ran her tongue over her already swelling lip. "That's gonna leave a mark."
(To be continued)