News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

November 15, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Keeping track of a tattered underworld

Mom always told me to be sure I never left the house with torn or dirty underwear. She usually added a warning about being hit by a truck or a bus, or some other catastrophe befalling, so that I’d be carted off to the hospital where my tattered underwear would become a matter of public record and private shame.

Because Mom did the laundry, she kept up to date on the state of my undergarments and, when things got desperate, she’d hustle me off to the nearest department store to outfit me and be assured that I would be presentable to her hypothetical hospital staff.

I am now in charge of laundry and I watch the gradual descent into disrepute of my nether garments. I know where the nearest department stores are, but I really do not like to shop. It takes me considerable time to psych myself up and actually get to the store. I want to know what I need, where to find it and the shortest route between the door to the department. I want to snap up my purchase and go home. Besides, a shopping bag full of new underwear is not all that exciting.

I remember a few years ago I was actually tempted to sign on for automatic renewal of my underwear supply. If memory serves, and sometimes it doesn’t, it was called “Panty-of-the-Month Club” and it worked rather like a book club or one of those coffee clubs. Every month you would be offered panties and a bra with the option of saying “no thanks” or having an automatic addition to your unmentionables and a tick on your credit card.

Each month the club would offer something suitable to the month. Usually they would pick a theme or a holiday and let imagination run amok. One of the spring months always came up with something in an Easter-egg pastel. December featured bright red with lace rather than fur. I especially remember March when I could have been the proud owner of panties printed with shamrocks to go with an “Erin Go Bra.”

No long underwear for those long, cold winter months and that may have been what tipped the balance. Maybe if I had stuck

with it?

Now I am reduced to assessing my lingerie drawer, wondering what Mom would say and hoping that I can hang on for a few more weeks — or months — or years!

Liz Ciancone is a retired

Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to

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