Tuesday 26 August 2008
I love underwear. I think my fascination with comfortable cotton underthings may have began when I very accidentally walked in on my stepmother, when she was still our nanny, while she was changing. I had not even seen my mother in her underwear very often and I thought seeing someone else would be very embarrassing, but our nanny only said hello politely and went on getting dressed. I was about eight years old then but she would not let either of us feel even the least awkward no matter what she was doing. That was her way of showing trust; and we have always trusted her and she has always been open and honest with us.
A big part of it may have been that our nanny (as she was then) was so pretty. Our mother was very pretty, but a child always looks at her mother as an adult, and here we had a very pretty girl living with us, with the body and authority of an adult and the innocence and youth of just a big sister. And she was always very ladylike and proper; she wore skirts and stockings and high heels (maybe because she is so short!) and put up her hair and wore makeup. In summers she wore bikini swimsuits; she had about four including a very elegant bright blue one, but none of them were immodest at all. I have to say that our nanny, while young and beautiful and very trusting, was (and still is!) very modest. Like our mother she showed us the example of what a lady should be, and I think that is why we all (including our father, when that time came) have always been so respectful and fond of her.
When she was still our nanny she took me bra shopping for the first time. She was the one I asked about when you get your period. I also consulted her, after she had become my stepmother, about how to behave on a first date (which oddly enough was an experience she had never really had!). At each of these times she did her best to give me good advice and to sympathise with the fact that I was a total twit about what I was asking. She has always been very gentle and thoughtful with these issues and Jessy and I have never felt that we have no one to turn to. We have lost our mother, eight years ago now, but we have found someone who does not replace her but adds to our experience of having known her, mainly because our nanny loved our mother too, almost as another daughter would have. (Okay, maybe it's kind of complex.)
The Olympics are over and Jessy and I have had marked on the calendar for some time now that the season premiere of 'Greek' is Tuesday evening. For some reason, totally independently, we each decided to make an event of it. I let our stepmother know that we'd be 'reserving' the down stairs TV room for this event. Jessy dug out from the freezer some microwave eclairs (we have a microwave in the hall just outside the TV room). And, for some reason we did not discuss and did expect beforehand, we both decided to dress up.
In England we went shopping with our stepmother often, not always buying a lot, but just because the shops are so great. You will walk down a high street in Norwich, instead of a mall, and they will have the nicest little shops in the world. While there we bought plenty of pyjamas (we had not brought any with us, only nightgowns), and socks and stockings and underwear. With our stepmother I think it makes her feel feminine and ladylike that she has other 'women' (us) to shop with. With us I think we feel honoured and respected. She treats us as young women but with the knowledge that we are not so experienced in the world, and we trust her with whatever questions we have.
I came home with, among other stuff, three sets of panties and bra, very soft, well-fitting, and comfortable, all the same in different pastel colours, in celery, salmon, and a robin's-egg blue. The bottom is trimmed in soft flat lace and the top is a sweetheart cut, which works well on me... even alone, which is what I am trying to talk about in this blog.
After a very thorough shower I towelled off and put on the celery-coloured set, adjusting the fit very carefully. Good underwear will always look great on you; it lies flat and pretty much stays where you put it. If you've ever felt the waist or legs rolling under, you have got bad underwear. The top should fit properly round underneath and not have to be readjusted after you raise your arms or twist about. These don't at all, which is a big reason why I got them.
I dried and pinned up all my hair, not too carefully, and put on a little makeup, not too much, just doing my eyes and patting my cheeks a little, for like Mother says a carefree, natural look is always best. I put on a little gold necklace and stepped into my sandals, which are natural basket-weave with white straps, and I went down to the kitchen first for a pitcher of iced tea and then back through the house to the side stairs to the basement TV room. I didn't see my father or stepmother or little J.J., but it wouldn't have mattered if I had!
Jessy was already there, stylishly dressed in a plain black leotard and little black ballet flats, with makeup on and her hair put up almost the same as mine. We stood there, me in the doorway and she down at the corner of the couch, and looked at each other and giggled. 'You too?' I laughed.
'Me? But I did it first!' And we laughed some more.
Then, to make it even cuter, little Lisa who just turned five this month came down, in her little flowery lavender panties and what Mother, who is really English, calls a 'vest' and Americans call a tank-top. But we knew that she had seen one or the other of us going down tonight and chose to join us... as she often does. She ended up sitting between us on the sofa.
So, all dressed up like we could never have done to go anywhere else, we sat down to microwave creampuffs and iced tea, tuned in to 'Greek' and watched snooty Rebecca get her butt kicked for what she truly deserved. Lisa didn't get all the finer points but she did understand that the girls (and the boys) were all guilty of having been mean to each other at least a little, and that's what anyone is supposed to have got out of that episode.
When it was over, at 10.00, little Lisa was nearly asleep. I prodded her up two flights of stairs while Jessy put away the movie and put out the lights. Lisa went into the potty and brushed her teeth, and I went into mine, and then Mother came down the gallery and tucked in Lisa. So when I came out she was just going and Lisa was lying in bed with the sheet pulled up to her neck. 'Janine?' came the small voice.
I had stepped out of the sandals in my bathroom and tiptoed into the darkened room. 'Yes, sweetie?'
She looked up at me with those wide admiring eyes as I came in and sat down on the edge of her bed. 'I had fun tonight. Watching your show with you and Jessy.'
I smiled, stroking her head gently to keep the hair out of her face. 'I had fun, too, sweetie.'
We sisters always call each other things like 'Sweetie'. It's something we got from our stepmother too... from when she was our nanny and Lisa wasn't even an idea anyone would think to think of.
'Can I ask you something?'asked the little voice above the sheet.
'Of course, sweetie.'
'When can I get a bra?'
I blushed. I knew why she asked me that, why she would not have asked Jessy, for example, and why also she did not ask her own mother. After all this bra fits really well-- 'Aw, sweetie.... You will get one when it's your time to get one. I promise.'
'And when is that?'
I didn't know to explain all the physiological evidence about it, not while she is still five, so I just said, 'God will decide. Just trust God about it.'
She nodded a little. 'Okay.' she said. 'I just hope I'm as beautiful as you are.'
I blushed again, and it made me lean down and kiss her head. 'Oh, I'm sure you'll be as beautiful as you are!'
She smiled up at me. She is too young to know that what I said was no answer at all. She thinks it is the perfect answer.
'I love you, Janine.'
I smiled. 'And I love you.' And I kissed her goodnight and went back to my own room.
I cannot say it had not occurred to me when I got 'dressed', if you can call it that, for our TV event down stairs. But after my little sister's flattery it was suddenly hard to leave the mirror. Very uncharacteristically I stood for some minutes just staring at myself. The fit of the bra IS really good-- the sweetheart neck kind of lifts what little I need it to and with my back straight my shape is really healthy. And the bottoms are close-fitting without being awkward; it's really a good fit.
At first I reached round behind myself and opened the bra. I tossed it over into the chair and reached up to undo my hair which fell down round my shoulders, tickling my skin, and made me shiver. For a second I closed my eyes. Then I pushed off the panties, kicking them a little over towards the chair. Stepping back till my legs bumped the bed, I sat on it, still staring at myself in the mirror. Then, keeping my legs together as a lady should, I got myself up into the bed and drew up the sheet.
But it did not stay up long. Even before I'd put out the bedside lamps it was kicked down past my feet and I was well on my way.