I suppose some of the gifts should have been a surprise, but they never were. We grew up with them, these strange and fantastic presents from Grandma Elsie. She was certain that she would be the next Publisher’s Clearing House Winner. Certain enough to clear a path at the front door for an oversized check. But not quite certain enough to stop ordering from the catalog. She imagined with each purchase she got a little bit closer to winning. And she needed gifts after all, what with 27 grand children. So she ordered. I’d like to think it was all random. It’s hard for me to imagine that she saw the red knee length laced panties (bloomers), and thought immediately of me. But that’s what I received for my Christmas present when I was 8 years old.
I had no sinister thoughts at the time. No thoughts of “saloon girls,” or worse… No, I thought they were shorts. Fancy shorts. I kept them folded neatly in my summer drawer.
I was still at my softball game when my mother got home from work. Now, as luck would have it, (so I thought) our town colors were red and black, based on our Cardinal mascot. It was on this very day that I decided to wear my fancy Christmas shorts with my Cardinal t-shirt. The man-made fibers rubbed against my chubby thighs, and caught on the wooden bench of the dugout. I imagine I left a trail of red lace as I rode my bike home from the Dairy Queen field. My disappointment was met with horror on my mother’s face as I dropped my bike in the driveway. I started to cry pink tears. “No,no, no…” she tried to assure me. “It’s fine. You’re beautiful,” she said. I caught my breath, hiccup by hiccup. “Grandma doesn’t know anything about softball,” I said. “No, she doesn’t,” my mother smiled. “How was your game? Did you win?” “No,” I said, but I think we’re getting closer.” I was indeed my grandma’s girl.