Like most people, I leave the house every morning completely expecting to be killed – by a runaway car, falling airplane engine, wiener dog stampede – and so everything must be orderly and spotless beforehand. No sofa cushion is left slumped, no dishes in the sink – nothing that I can be posthumously mortified about.
And if I’m not killed, I assume I’ll be asked to disrobe so that the bank robbers, pirates, or Animorph can use my clothes as a getaway disguise. Meaning, I must always have on nice underwear. Or at least underwear I’m not ashamed of being seen or interviewed in. Because if I’m not killed during the holdup, afterward news anchors will assuredly ask me about the whole ordeal, while I’m standing there in my underwear screaming, “It sounded like a freight train, y’all!”
Today, though, is laundry day. Which means I have on the most hideous pair of underwear I own.
All of this completely rational thinking came screaming into sharp relief this morning. Right before I stepped in front of a news camera.
Five minutes before, the pet of the week is running circles around my legs, the leash wrapping around and around as I try to woo the wily Chihuahua with treats. But before I succeed, the Tom & Jerry situation is fully realized, with me tipping slightly toward a hard fall. Thankfully, right before I face-plant, I catch myself; the skinny jeans, however, aren’t having it.
The rip nearly makes my heart stop. I look between my legs, like some My Body, My Self infomercial, and see a gaping hole with my underwear peeking through.
The pup playfully jumps up, and I cringe and inch up to the melody of ripping fabric. The hole grows wider. This whole situation is like the beginning of a porno. Minus the dog. Now all I need is a tall, swarthy lighting tech with a handlebar mustache to saunter up with, “Do you need to be helped backstage, sir?”
But there’s no time to freak out. It’s showtime.
The meteorologist recites the forecast, and I mentally interject my fears.
“It’s partly cloudy with a chance of…”
I do feel a slight chill. But I’m pretty sure that’s the air conditioning billowing through the studio and across the polished concrete floor into my pants.
Saucy air conditioner.
And then we’re on. The meteorologist crouches beside me, and I control the dog while kneeling as awkwardly as possible to avoid an on-air wardrobe malfunction.
I nod wildly at everything he says, even completely false, incorrect statements.
“And she just loves to play with unicorns!”
“Why yes! UNICORNS ARE HER FAVORITE! DON’T LOOK AT MY CROTCH!”
Okay, so he didn’t say anything about unicorns. I don’t think. Eventually, the camera angles away and I skitter into the darkness with the dog.
On the drive back, a rickety car with a massive Hello Kitty logo flaking off the back windshield nearly sideswipes me. Which causes me to shift and throw my mom arm across the pet carrier.
Which is when I hear another rip.
An exit later, the dog is back and I reverse course. But not before stopping to gas up, where I’m treated to a squabble between the gas station clerk and a clearly delusional man waving a chicken sandwich.
“I want this warmed up, goddammit!”
He motions to a defunct microwave tucked beside a fly-covered condiment station.
“Next in line!”
“Yes, hi. I need my receipt for Pump 6.”
“It didn’t print out there?”
Yes, but I really wanted to hear more about this sandwich.
He prints it without waiting for a response, and I inch past the befuddled man.
“WARM! I WANT IT WARM!”
The clerk groans and mops his brow, clearly used to dealing with this particular character.
Exceedingly pleased with himself, the man turns and smiles at a rack of wrapped candy.
“And imma take one of these.”
He reaches out a calloused hand and gingerly selects a Kit Kat.
He holds onto it with a mighty intensity – so much so that I hesitate before leaving completely.
I consider him for a moment, and think of how easily we gloss over the little victories every single day. And realize how monumentally important a tiny detail can be – the smidge of courage to ask a question, to be bold.
Like a thread, a little victory can mean the difference between calamity and bliss. Even if we’re threadbare, our resolve as thin as paper.