Karen Bennett

The Bride's Prerogative

Two steps inside Scanty Panties, the new underwear store, was the requisite damask arm chair filled to overflowing with a study of masculine disgruntlement. His eyes blind to the clouds of ecru tulle and shimmering satin teddies, he slumped like a punished child, and shifted his position. His woman appeared, clasped her folded pink bag, and signaled with her eyebrows to head out. Liberated, he leapt from his chair, and they were gone.

Waiting for my turn with the saleslady, I meandered to the wall of lacy bras and accidentally backed into a slender, bride-aged young woman. She appeared to be mortified at being inside a store named after dangerous underwear. She was dressed simply, with a large, swirly brown "M" embroidered on her sweater. She apologized at being in my way. Wringing her hands and twisting her large engagement ring, she took a step back. M shot a nervous glance to a tall, grandmotherly-type woman then ducked her head. Her shoulder-length brown hair with lusterless bangs fell forward and hid her expression.

The senior ignored the young lady. She wore a tailored gray tweed suit and had gray tweed hair sprayed into a neat 'doo. She held up two pair of lacy panties on little hangers and trumpeted to the sales lady, questioning which style would fit best with some pretty lacy bra, apparently already chosen. She looked past the affianced young woman, who was shifting her weight from foot to foot, folding and unfolding her hands, consulting her feet. Poor M’s suffering was in planetary proportions.

The bride-to-be didn’t seem to know that with her willowy shape, slender hips and long legs, she would look great in any style of panties. Without input from ‘la jeune fille’, the purchase was made, and she was escorted from Scanty Panties.

I watched them go, then turned to the twentyish sales lady who introduced herself as Penny and showed me to a curtained room. When Penny returned with her measuring tape, I asked, “Was that poor, embarrassed girl shopping for her trousseau?”

Penny’s eyes flashed. Her voice answered in a high whisper. “Yes, and the older woman is going to be her mother-in-law.”

I gasped. “Her mother-in-law?” I clapped my hand to my mouth. No wonder she was miserable. As I stood in my underwear, in front of a stranger, I ‘tsk-tsked’ and shook my head, pitying the almost-bride.

Penny jumped in with bigger news. “And the worst thing,” her blue eyes wide open, “the old woman jammed the shopping bag at the young lady and called over her shoulder, ‘This is really for him, you know’.”

My mouth dropped. “Well that explains the last thing I saw. As the girl slinked away, she neatly pressed the folded pink bag right into the trash container in front of the store.” Penny shook her head philosophically and together we mouthed, "Wow."

Karen Bennett has been writing about the human condition for six years and is happy to report a few prizes in that time, through the Maryland Writer's Association and the Wm. Faulkner annual novel contest. Her stories are plucked from experiences and observations while working in prison, her years in choirs, recent travel to Russia, Vietnam and South Africa, and from real life; marriage, kids, divorce and cello lessons.

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