When tights are not tight

I’ve never been one for “casual Fridays.”

The idea that if someone deals with you on Thursday they get the professional version but if they deal with you on Friday they get the almost-Saturday-one-foot-out-the-door you, makes no sense to me.

For some employees maybe it’s considered a perk. Maybe somehow it’s less stressful to wear jeans and a sweatshirt than a skirt and blouse to work. Even if that’s the case, as perks go, I think this one is lame.

When I worked as a journalist I always tried to look like I was well-groomed and professional. There were times reporters from other cities would swoop in looking like they just rolled out of bed and were still wearing a pyjama top. It always shocked me. I couldn’t imagine facing the world like that. We had a dress code anyway so I would never have gotten away with it.

Having said that, there were a few days when I was having a casual Friday no one was privy to.

It was winter and I was covering a big announcement at the local hospital. I was wearing a skirt and heavy winter tights and moving through the crowd interviewing key people in the lobby when my tights began a slow and agonizing descent.

Normally, that’s not unusual. By about 10 a.m. gravity routinely worked its magic on the crotch of my tights. The waistband stayed put while the crotch sagged and sagged until it resembled a hammock between two trees.

There’s no graceful way to yank the crotch of your tights back up, though there are different methods. Leg out, grab a fistful of tights and pull then follow up with the other leg, or the tug and squat.

When I was a kid we used to get those pantyhose that came in the cardboard package. When they were unfurled they were about six inches long and daunting. I rarely got them on without my finger poking through.

My cousin Jenny used to tie the ankles to her bed post, grab the waistband and run as far as she could before she was yanked back. They looked like what I imagined the legs of a tanned 86-year-old would look like in a bikini—thin yet flabby.

I would have been relieved if the only problem I was having with my tights that day was a droopy crotch.  Somewhere between the presentation and an interview with the hospital CEO the waistband gave out. With each step I could feel my tights shimmy lower. I had hoped my hips would keep them up so I stood with my hip jutting out like I was carrying a toddler.

All that was keeping them from hitting the floor was the elasticity on the legs and abdomen. All I could think about was that there was a very good chance I might trip on my tights on the way out. I put my coat on carefully to give me enough cover to get to the parking lot.

By the time I got outside the blown elastic was below by butt, forcing me to walk like I had been at the hospital seeking treatment for poison ivy on my nether regions.

By the time I got to my car my tights were at my knees. I was so mad I pushed the seat back, ripped my boots off, tore my tights off, and then flung them into the back seat.

It was cold but at least I had my dignity. Casual Fridays? Pshaw.


Social bloopers–roll ’em

I suppose this falls under the category of things I should know by now.  I have a recurring faux pas problem.

I have, I fear, damaged at least two older gentlemen who tried to befriend me and had their self-esteem clobbered.

First it was Ted, a well-regarded and fondly-remembered retired teacher, volunteer and advocate. I was working as a journalist at the time and waiting outside of Stratford’s council chambers for a meeting to start. Ted was waiting too, so I walked up to say hello. He happily greeted me but called me another name—I think it was Jen. I corrected him and told him my name and reminded him I was a reporter at the local paper.

He was mortified and explained that he had a past student who looked just like me and he often got us confused. I tried to make light of it but he was so embarrassed he couldn’t see the humour.

I saw him a day or two later and my first thought should have been that, since he was dying inside after the name mix-up, maybe it’s too soon to be “funny.”

I didn’t have that thought. I had this thought:  “I’ll turn it into a joke and we’ll laugh and laugh….” So I walked up to him and said, “Hi Ted, it’s me Jen.”

And he said, “Hi Jen! It’s nice to see you. How are you?”

Uh oh.

I stood there waiting with the faint hope he was turning the joke back on me and we would laugh and laugh. I could feel the heat crawling up my neck as I sheepishly explained it was me again, the reporter, Laura

He looked baffled. I’m sure he walked away wondering why I would do such a thing. I wanted to slink under the carpet.

You would think that moment, which I expect will replay in the moments before I expire, would have taught me something. To pause before speaking perhaps. Nope.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out for tea with an 83-year-old friend Gary. We meet at McDonalds every couple of weeks and he always gets an orange-cranberry muffin. His love of the cranberry is unmatched. He can speak at length about the virtues of the cranberry.

He offered me a piece of his muffin and I turned it down. He said, “Are you watching your weight or something?”

I said, “What do you mean? Are you saying I need to watch my weight!?”

I was kidding. I knew that’s not what he was saying.

He was gutted. He apologized and chastised himself for saying something so awful. I told him I wasn’t upset, I was joking.

I didn’t think about it again until a week later when I got a message to call him. When I did he told me he wanted to apologize for the stupid thing he said. He hadn’t been sleeping.

I went out for tea with him this past week and as I feared he refused a muffin. He said he wasn’t hungry and rhymed off all the things he had for breakfast like a grocery list.

I thought I would outsmart him. I went to get the coffee (tea in my case) and bought him a cranberry-orange muffin to go and I bought myself a pastry. I figured if I ate the pastry he would cave and eat the muffin and all would be right with the world.

He took the muffin but was adamant that he was full from breakfast. Ack.

I ate my pastry. Still nothing.

I wonder if he ate his muffin when he got home or if the cranberries just don’t taste as good as they used to. I wonder if he threw it out.

I should call him and apologize again. I’m having trouble sleeping.