An Interesting Walking Style
United Arab Emirates
Dryden in the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, once described the deserts on the Arabian Peninsula as “a burning, fiery furnace” and for good reason. Summer temperatures can reach up to one hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit. You go through several sets of clothes in any given day. This day was no exception.
Since I haven’t done laundry in a few days, I am stuck with a pair of baggy and well-ventilated underwear. I set out for the local grocery store on the other side of a six-lane street. I reach the intersection and notice my underwear is not feeling exactly the way it should. Standing next to all these stopped cars, I can’t exactly hike it up. I’m in a Muslim country. Muslims prefer not to see a woman’s calf or forearm, much less watch her adjusting her skivvies. I need to find a private spot.
The parking lot is buzzing and someone is sitting inside every parked car to keep the air conditioning running. Inside the store, I am starting to get nervous so I search to find an empty aisle where I can make my vertical adjustment. My underwear is now flying at half-mast. I am convinced that the cold air in the freezer aisle has shrunk my gluteus maximus as the “traitor” makes its way towards the floor posthaste.
Where did all of these people come from? Don’t you have homes to go to? Preferably now? I decide it’s best to go home.
By the time I get to the store’s exit, the “sail” is now way below half mast, maintaining position due to an interesting walking style allowing my upper legs to hold everything in place. This is funny in a desperate kind of way.
Two minutes later as I again arrive at the intersection, I find my panties have wedged between my knees. The pedestrian light is turning green. I have to walk across three lanes of stopped traffic with the real chance that my underwear may fall onto the street. This isn’t so humorous after all.
What will I do if they fall? Do I stop and pick them up? Do I just step out of them and walk on as if they weren’t mine? When was the last time you saw underwear fall from the heavens?
I can just see some guy say, “Hey you’re the girl whose underwear fell off on 11th Street, aren’t you?” That is if I don’t get thrown into prison for indecency. If I do go to prison, maybe I’ll have my head shaved and then I can pose as a man until I can book a flight to Siberia. My head is spinning. I panic.
I decide to walk out of my underwear, not go home until the traffic is long gone so no one knows where I live. But I don’t. People are staring at me for the way I am hobbling across the street. They are feeling sorry for me for whatever walking disability I have. I start laughing, imagining what I must look like to them and I have to stop in the middle of the street as my gravity-loving underwear now travel to my calves. I am imagining my inevitable cellmate. Oh, why didn’t I wear pants? Who invented underwear anyway? Can you declare a jihad on the elastic industry? I manage to make it across the street after the light turns green. Nobody even honks at me to get out of the way, probably feeling sorry for me. My legs are cramping from the clenching to hold the underwear up.
But it didn’t end there. There are a handful of Pakistani men sitting on the grassy area between the corner and my door so I have to make it past them too. Walking the length of a single house took me
Finally, as I approach my door, one bag of groceries falls out, spilling its contents onto the sidewalk. Without thinking, I crouch down to get them. Boom! My skivvies hit the pavement. At that moment, a man on a bicycle comes up behind me, kindly waiting for me to move aside so he can pass. Catch 22.
After giggling, half-crying and mumbling something about “please, just go around”, I manage to half hop and drag myself out of the way, as if my knees were surgically attached to my breastbone and my ankles fused to my posterior. I fall into the terrace, safe from the public eye. Tears of relief and amusement spill through uncontrollable laughter.
I throw away all similarly stretched underwear lurking in the back of my drawer. I make a mental note to rewrite guidebooks to this region of the world. Tight undies are a “must”!