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Debbie Mountjoy


I was organizing my panty drawer. When you reach the age of fifty, you have acquired many things in your life. I had, in my life drawer, ex-husbands, amusing stories, criminal behavior, sweet deeds, loyal friends, and, it seems, quite a lot of sexy underwear. My motivation was to be able to find, in this melee of undergarments, my comfortable bra, my favorite white panties, and the one clean, white tank top that worked perfectly with my worn tee shirts.

I discovered lace, red satin, and embroidered flowers. I had almost forgotten. I had almost forgotten the fun of being a girl. Being a girl with a secret. I remember putting on my faded jeans over pink lace. I was the only one who knew, but I wanted to show them off. Any woman reading this knows that you put on the pretty panties hoping to show them off. Back to organizing my panty drawer.

I put the lace and satin in the bottom drawer. I put my faded jeans on over soft white cotton. It was time to go to school. When you reach the age of fifty, you don’t plan on being a graduate student, but life leads you down unusual paths. This path found me as a graduate teaching assistant in the English department of a small, respectable university in middle Texas.

I stride into my office. I share the space with three compatriots as varied as my bottom drawer. On this particular day, laughter is our theme; sameness is in the air. We have two hours before we become students instead of teachers. It’s a hard balancing act. However, the mood is easy because we have just handed back our first papers to our students and handed in our first paper to our professors. For a few hours, tension is barred.

The two hours pass, and we walk, now as students, smartly to our class: Comparative Literature. The semester’s topic: Chick Lit. The books: The Nanny Diaries vs The House of Mirth. The classmates: six females and one male.

It is our fifth week. The one boy had contributed more than some of the girls. Young girls so smart, but so silent. Talk. Tell me what you are really thinking. Instead, I speak out loud. When you reach the age of fifty, you have a lot to say, so I open the discussion with a question, “What does everyone think about how many pages were devoted to the black thong?”

Today, it seems, I have a lot to say about panties.