The trouble with life’s embarrassing moments is their stealth. If you could predict when they are about to strike, you would do something to prevent them. You’d have to be some kind of nut case to deliberately put yourself in jeopardy of total mortification.
And so, I checked twice before leaving the restroom to make sure my skirt was ALL the way… well, you already know where this is going.
I wore a black, mid-calf skirt on Saturday night when we went to the ballet; one of those skirts that is assembled in bias-cut panels that fall nicely away from the hips and get all kind of floaty by the time they reach the hem. Flattering on the mature figure. Slimming, almost.
Regardless, watching lithe young dancers is a sure recipe for feeling like a Smurf. But what are you going to do? It’s been 40 years or more since you were 95 pounds in a leotard. I’ll tell you what you do: you try to project an appearance of youthful, physical grace and agility; you endeavor to look as elegant and thin as possible. Greeting other patrons in the lobby, you suck in your gut, pull your shoulders back, extend your height, pulling up out of your torso and stand in second position. If you look around, you’ll see other women standing in second position — all telegraphing that they KNOW what second position is because THEY had dance training once upon a time as well. When you move to your seat, you glide as gracefully as you can across the lobby with your feet turned slightly outward as though wearing invisible pointe shoes and you know how to avoid tripping on them. You alight in your seat as if you weigh as much as a ballerina, being careful not to make those Grandma noises that you’ve been making lately every time you interact with a chair. When the lights go down, you breathe out again, knowing your mature figure can relax for an hour or so and your dinner can digest. When intermission arrives, you rise blithely and float across the lobby again, chatting gaily to folks along the way to the restroom.
It was at this stage of my lobby performance that I got into trouble. I was alone in the Women’s room standing in front of the mirror, close to the 5 minute call to return to our seats. Lipstick. Check. Hair. Check. Skirt. Check. Check it again, Lesley. You never know if you got it ALL back to its proper place, hem swishing lightly below your knees. O.K. Looks o.k. Fluff the hair again. Check. Skirt? Yes, yes. O.K. Enough. Out the door.
By the time I had walked a few paces, I could tell something was wrong. There was a breeze that I shouldn’t have felt at the back of my right leg. I put my hand down to my thigh and flipped the edge of my skirt. It released from where it was caught. Oh, no!! I missed a corner! It was tucked in you-know-where and I wanted to die right then and there on the spot!
And what’s the first thing you do when something like this happens? You look around to see if anyone else has noticed. They had! Oh, wretched me! Two women were sitting on a bench nearby finishing their drinks. They were looking my way. Bless them, they didn’t turn away or snicker. They had looks on their faces like they were so totally mortified for me. They were in complete sympathy. They looked as though they were on the verge of calling out to tell me about my wardrobe malfunction. I stopped for a second, waved to them and called out a nonchalant, “Thank you!” with as much of my balletic decorum intact as possible. What else could I say? If they had prevented me from sashaying into the crowd with my skirt stuck in my undies, I would have been utterly grateful. But, you know, these things all happen so fast. In the next split second, my eyes darted around. After that red-faced “thank you” my eyes met a man’s who was standing close to the ladies. He looked stricken. Unable to speak or look away. Time froze for a moment. I turned quickly without engaging further.I schlumped back to our seats.
Later, as we left the theatre, I hoped I wouldn’t see the two ladies again, much less the man. Although, perhaps we might have smiled at each other and maybe giggled a little, waved light-heartedly and shared a human connection.
What do they say about pride goeth-ing before a fall? It’s true. Forget the lobby performance. Be comfortable. Wear pants.