As an expat, do you buy underwear in your host country? No? Maybe you don’t speak the language, or you don’t get your jollies trying on a bra behind a drab curtain in the corner of a market stand, or you don’t like the granny styles available, or . . . well, you get the picture. Just for your information, Miss Footloose purchases her flimsies in her native Holland or her adopted USA, where it is a stress-free shopping experience. Well, more or less.
So where am I going with this? On a ramble, I admit. This post is a bit of a patchwork, a few random pieces minimally strung together by the word underwear. A tanga post let’s say. Brief bits.
Photo credit: classic_film on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC
Of French wine and Dutch underpants
So let’s travel now to the south of France where my mate and I and our two young daughters once spent several nights in a ramshackle cottage we rented from a retired Dutch guy with a pony tail, his scantily clad girlfriend and his twenty-something hunky son. The three of them exuded a kind of hippy charm and professed to like the sun-and-wine soaked south of France better than rain-soaked Holland. Imagine that.
They owned a sprawling ruin of a house which they had baptized with the fanciful name of Maison de la Cascade by virtue of a romantic waterfall splashing away on their property. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, is what I think.
The men had haphazardly erected several primitive shacks which they rented out for the price of five dollars a night, e.i. just about nothing.
The rental included breakfast of fresh baguette and bowls of café au lait the size of small lakes. Dinner was available for a modest additional charge and concocted by the men with much creativity if not culinary skill. The meal was eaten en famille outside at a rough wooden table under a grapevine arbor, accompanied by copious amounts of vin rouge. This wine had been purchased at a local co-op which sold the area’s nectar on tap: Bring your own bottles or containers and pump it out of the vat yourself. It was fabulous. The ambiance at la Maison was five-star. Of course this eluded the girls, who preferred dining in castles, as they had in Spain several days earlier.
Horrors! Quelle horreur !
More creativity was witnessed when we returned from an afternoon excursion and found the sun-bronzed Greek god son sitting at the outdoor table in his Mediterranean blue bikini underpants, deeply engaged in drawing artistic labels for the wine bottles filled with co-op wine: a lovely waterfall with the words La Maison de la Cascade swirling in an elegant arch above it. Each label was a piece of art. Images of this sort stay with me. The daughters, half their genes puritan American, were also impressed. Not by the labels but by the artist sitting there in his underpants!
Fast forward to another lingerie incident abroad:
While living in Armenia, two friends and I visited “our” tailor one day. One friend was a native Armenian, the other hailed from Cameroon, West Africa. Our clothier was a rather unorganized sort with a haphazard approach to business. Each of us was hoping for some progress on our garments which had been languishing on a sagging shelf for some time now. Repeated phone calls had not been very successful in stirring the man out of his (possibly vodka-induced) lethargy.
The tailor’s shop was more like a hoarder’s house than a place of business. Boxes with assorted junk and piles of fabric were sitting around on floors and shelves. The “fitting room” was a sort of sitting room/cum office sporting an ailing brown couch begging for retirement, a threadbare carpet devoid of soul, and a scruffy desk of Soviet vintage. A full length mirror leaned drunkenly against the wall, wiped out from reflecting too many unpleasant images perhaps.
Fortunately, the sewer man had managed to do some minimal work on our outfits. In order to speed things up (so we could go to lunch and celebrate with a shot of vodka), we went into the room together and starting stripping off our clothes for a fitting.
So there we stood in all our baby stretch-mark glory — the European, the African, and the West-Asian — wearing our similarly unexciting underthings. We looked at each other and it came to us in an epiphany: We were really friends now.
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So, do you have an underwear story? Foreign or domestic? Either one will be appreciated, but keep it clean (if possible).