I put on my hat and my coat and my shoes. I knew something was missing but I couldn’t think what. When I looked in the mirror I saw what it was: my underwear. How silly of me. If I took off my coat I would be naked. That wouldn’t do at all.
I looked in my sock drawer; no underwear. I looked in my underwear drawer; only socks. I looked in all my drawers and could find no underwear. I knew I had some because I’d worn it before. Underwear was essential, especially for a girl like me going to a party where all kinds of special people were bound to be. By special people I mean men, particularly unmarried men. In fact only unmarried men. I wanted to get married, have a family and sit around the house all day watching daytime TV and eating chocolates. The only way I could do that was if my husband worked hard to keep me in hats, coats, shoes and underwear. But where could my underwear be.
There it was. When I looked out the window I saw it hanging on the line, drying in the sun. I hated drying my underwear in the dryer. It always got sparky with static. Once, when I put on a lacy bra, my nipples pinged out and surprised me. I mean that’s the sort of thing you want to happen when you’re in the company of a handsome young man and he pushes against you, and your thin summer dress and your thin summer bra make it quite clear what your nipples are doing, but it’s not the sort of thing you want to happen when you’re at home alone.
I went out to the garden. I said, —Hello garden, what a lovely day. The garden didn’t say anything because it’s just a garden, or if it did speak it did it in such a low whisper I couldn’t hear. I collected all my underwear from my washing line and brought it indoors. I would wear the white and beige matching bra and panties and suspender belt. I didn’t have any stockings. Was it silly to wear a suspender belt if I wasn’t going to wear stockings. I thought it probably was, but I wasn’t sure. I phoned Maisie and she said, —Why aren’t you going to wear any stockings? so I said, —I don’t have any, and she said, —I’ll bring some over. Apparently Maisie has lots of stockings. I don’t know why, and I don’t know why I have a suspender belt if I don’t have any stockings.
She brought two pairs; brown and black. I chose the brown, although she said the black would be sexier. I didn’t want to seem like a whore. Then she left and I said, —Thank you, bye, and she said, —Have fun, and I waved as she drove away.
Then I went indoors and put on Maisie’s stockings. They felt really nice and I looked in the mirror. I definitely looked good but I still felt something was missing. I didn’t know what. I picked up my tiny tiny handbag and went out to the car.
As the engine started I looked down at my legs and realised I wasn’t wearing a dress. I switched off the engine and went back in the house. I had so many dresses; which would I choose. I wondered briefly why I had forgotten to put on a dress. Was it a subconscious desire to appear naked in public? I didn’t want a subconscious like that. What if I hadn’t noticed and I’d gone to the party. Then, when I took off my coat, everyone would have gasped and giggled and I’d’ve said, What? what’s wrong, and a kind person would whisper, You’re not wearing a dress, and I’d’ve had to leave the party, and even if I found my dress I’d still be too embarrassed to go back. I was glad I’d noticed the lack of adequate clothing.
After some deliberation I chose something red. I think it was modelled on a Hussein Chalayan creation, but I’d bought it from Zara, so it was cheap, or it might have come from a discount warehouse, I couldn’t remember. I went back to the car. Before I started the engine I made sure I had everything, hat, shoes, coat, underwear, dress. I didn’t have gloves. I started the engine. Should I wear gloves? Was it awfully faux pas to wear a hat but no gloves? Did it look sluttish? I’m sure Jacqueline Kennedy would never have worn a hat without gloves, nor would Princess Diana. I had to aspire to the best, not just accept that I wasn’t much to look at and my prospects of finding a handsome rich young man were negligible. I switched off the engine and went back in the house. I began to feel sorry for the engine. It must have been thinking, What’s happening, on off on off, when am I going to drive?
I found the perfect gloves that matched my hat, not so exactly that I looked like something from a magazine, but close enough to look stylish. I drove to the party.
Obviously I switched on the engine but I didn’t want to tell you that because I thought you must be sick and tired of hearing about my engine but then I thought you’d wonder how I drove my car without switching it on, I mean as I’d mentioned it before, why not this time, so I thought I’d just say it was switched on.
When I arrived the party was in full swing and most of the eligible bachelors had been picked up by eligible young ladies, and some not so young but pretending to be. As usual I would be left with the dregs. A very nice young man came over and asked, —Have you just arrived?
—Yes, I said, —yes I have.
—So have I, he said, —I was a bit delayed. It’s really rather silly. I got into the car and started the engine and I realised I wasn’t wearing any trousers.
—Oh no, I said, —how awful. Thank goodness you realised in time and didn’t arrive at the party trouserless.
—Absolutely, he said, —that would have been very embarrassing. Would you like to dance?
—I’d love to.
We held each other close. I think it was a two-step, but where he was correct and took two steps, I was greedy and took three. If we hadn’t been holding each other tight we would have come apart. As it was our bottom halves parted then sprang back together. I suppose that’s just the way it is sometimes.
After the dance he said, —You have a unique style of dancing.
I told him I’d had a charismatic dance teacher, who I’d found both appealing and repelling at the same time.
—Ah, he said, —that explains it.
We had champagne and the bubbles went up my nose and I sneezed and sprayed snot on his jacket. Instead of saying, You filthy trollop, look what you’ve done, he laughed and said, —Oh dear, I hope you’re not the same with cocaine. We went to the bathroom and he showed me a trick where you fill an enema with champagne and squirt it up your back passage.
—It saves bubbles going up your nose, he said.
—It certainly feels funny, I replied.
We were the last to leave the party. I was pissed at both ends and could hardly walk. I left my car and he drove me home. I can’t remember much about what happened that night, but in the morning, trouserless, he asked me to marry him, and with my dress round my ankles, I said yes.