In fifth grade I started stealing my friend’s underwear.
My mother bought me my own, of course, plain white and black and sometimes pink jockeys with a very occasional bikini cut. I hated these underwear. They sagged in the back, making any skirt look like it covered a wet diaper, and poked out of the top of my already too tight jeans mocking my attempts. Before gym class, the worst place for an almost naked preteen body, I was sure they gave off such a childish impression that the sixth grade girls would have no choice but to laugh.
I saw my friend’s underwear before gym, at sleepovers, in bags of dirty laundry in their mother’s laundry rooms. Everywhere.
They were neon. Sometimes lace, with little hearts lining the elastic or stripes—going horizontally across the butt.
My favorite pair of friend’s underwear were blue. Jenny’s. Not a terribly loud blue, crisp—with thin tiny zig zags crossing over the front and back in hot pink. Thin white elastic at the top. But it was more than just the color and design that were mesmerizing. These underwear, while not fully a thong—I would learn about that later—were slim cut. When Jenny wore them, they held her butt up and did not move. They cut straight in a v from her crotch and they never ever sagged.
After I caught a glimpse at these, first on Jenny, then on the floor, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Did everyone have underwear like this? What was going on?
I started suggesting that hang outs be at my friends house instead of my own and whenever my friends would go to the bathroom or to get a snack I would run over to the their top drawers—always their top drawers—and rifle through their underwear.
And that’s when I stealing began. I knew I couldn’t steal their best pair, they would know immediately, and that would be more shame than I could tolerate. I’d take a pair from the very back, not well-worn, one that I could imagine they wouldn’t miss, and I would stuff them in the front pocket of my backpack. Later, at home, I would take them out, try them on in the bathroom, and walk in front of the mirror, looking at how my own butt looked in them, imagining wearing them every day. But I couldn’t wear them every day because if I did my mother would find out and would demand to know how on earth I got this fancy underwear.
So I made a pile. In the very back of my closet, where I would later in high school hide the folded up note on blue lined paper from Jarad Gold that told me that he would make sweet love to me if I could just get away from my boyfriend-I hid the underwear. Seventeen pairs in all. Stolen from friends, cousins, not such good friends, and even an aunt, whose sexy lacy purple pair were too much for me to not grab.
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