Hello everyone. My name is Barbara and I’m a shoplifter. I stole a pair of Vanity Fair, beige, size 9 underwear. I know every criminal claims she isn’t guilty. And I’m not. Not really.
After an evening of back-to-school shopping, I was settling into the passenger seat of our van when my husband Jim asked, “What’s this?” He stood under the beaming light of a suburban shopping center, waving the panties over his head.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Did you buy underwear?” he bellowed.
I had spent 15 minutes exploring the JC Penney lingerie department while Jim bought a belt for our teenage son. Suddenly, like an episode of the TV crime show “CSI,” my visual memory flashed back to me struggling beside a wall of panties. I use a power wheelchair and navigating narrow aisles can be difficult.
As I perused the panties, a metal arm used to display the undies jabbed into the back of my chair. I moved forward and heard a “snap.” Several pairs of panties fell to the ground behind me. Readjusting my speed to the lowest setting, I carefully inched forward, leaving a tangled pile of dainty drawers on the floor.
Rummaging through bins of lacey intimate wear, I quickly nixed the thigh-exposing French-cut briefs. And thongs? They’re just wrong.
The last time I bought a package of assorted colored cotton briefs, they included a pair covered with cutesy pink flowers. And I would’ve loved them, if I were still in the third grade.
I’m a simple gal. I need simple underwear. But I couldn’t resist stopping to feel the feathers on a pair of purple panties. A table with brightly colored, tiny silk drawers was conveniently positioned in the spacious main aisle.
Why is it that the plus-size merchandise is crammed inside the smallest floor space? Women with meat on their bones and shoppers with wheels need an ample turning radius.
I suppose a display of MoMo panties would not have been as enticing as the faux leopard-skin bikinis strategically placed at the front of the department. However, nothing that loud or that small has been seen on my derriere since fifth grade.
I was drawn to the rack of bras, but the store was closing shortly. No time to linger. If only I were Wonder Woman — one spin and I’d be dressed in a new outfit. I rolled over to the men’s department, searching for Jim.
Unbeknownst to me and my clueless hubby, I wandered around the store for an additional 30 minutes with a pair of fairly large panties hanging from a knob on the back of my wheelchair.
Didn’t any other shoppers notice? What could they possibly have thought?
“Oh, she must carry a spare pair of panties? Instead of what — an extra tire?”
Didn’t the cashier see the sheer fabric swaying from my backside? Perhaps she thought it was a decorative flag?
The store was closing. I sat in the van as the last few shoppers spilled into the parking lot.
My honest husband said, “We’ve got to take these back.”
I knew he meant me. He wasn’t going to walk into a store dangling a pair of stolen panties in his hand. I shook my head. No. I was too humiliated to go inside. Besides, by the time I transferred back into my wheelchair, the store would be closed. To get someone’s attention, I would have had to bang on the door, probably setting off an alarm. Surely, they would call 911 to remove the deranged woman flailing her underpants.
As we drove home, I acknowledged that I had committed a crime. I pictured myself at a police station. When they administered the polygraph test and asked me, “Have you ever stolen?” I would have to tell the truth.
“Yes, but I’m not guilty. Really.”
Barbara Twardowski, who has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, leads a life of crime in Mandeville, La. She’s thinking of moving to Europe where she’s heard underwear is optional. She and her husband Jim are frequent Quest contributors.