I was in a pickle. I thought I lost my wife—not to sickness or calamity, but to tricky circumstances that had to do with a lady’s pair of black panties. Let me say right away that I was as innocent as a newborn babe, but that sometimes innocence is not the first idea that pops into the mind of a street-smart woman like my wife.
I guess it all started two months ago when I decided to switch to interval training when cycling—meaning that I now peddle repeatedly at 60-70 percent effort for four minutes followed by 30 seconds of maximum force. But a couple of times in the last month, I was having a hard time recouping my breath after the 30-second sprints. So I decided to schedule an exercise test to make sure everything—heart and lungs—was operating as they should.
The testing was fine—I seem to be in good running order for someone of my vintage. But that was not the source of trouble with my wife.
When I had stepped off the treadmill at the end of the session, the technician waved a pair of black lacy panties before my eyes and asked, “Would these be yours, sir?”
Befuddled, I waggled my head as I stammered for something funny to say—but nothing came. “Would what be mine?” I asked. I stared at the technician pinching the panties by the tiniest snippet of lace as if she were holding a dead mouse by the tail.
“These,” she said, speaking pompously through her nose.
“Eh, no, they’re not my style,” I said.
“We make no judgments here,” she said, which suddenly made the nap of my neck prickle.
“Judgment or not, they’re not mine,” I said louder than expected. “And if they were mine, I certainly wouldn’t be taking them home to my wife. You don’t know my wife. She can dress you down with her eyes.” The technician was silent, so I added, “I think it comes from all her years as a kindergarten teacher. It takes a piercing gaze when dealing with five-year-olds, you know.”
“Whatever,” the technician said under her breath. “I’m afraid they are yours. No one walks out of here without their panties.”
I thought she made a good point. I certainly would not walk out without my panties. So I took the undies and wadded them into a compressed gob and shoved them into my pocket. (I never knew how neatly panties cram into the smallest lump of silk.)
When I arrived home, I found my wife, Nita, in the bedroom reading a French novel. I dangled the panties in her face. “Are these yours, young person?”
“Why yes,” she said, looking at me from the corner of her eyes. “What are you doing with them?”
I straightened my back and told my story like a leatherneck reporting the battle mission that went awry.
“Uh-huh, I see, I see,” she said, and then added, “Static electricity. It clings to everything.” Sometimes women understand the most complicated things.
“Then I’m released from all suspicion?” I asked, my eyebrows arching at full mast.
Nita squinted as if looking into the rising sun on the Texas plains. “For the moment,” she said. “But watch yourself, Bunkie.”
I’m watching, I’m watching.