Monday, June 18, 2018

No Nonsense

October 2014:  Ladies, I don't envy you one bit on the matter of hose. I learned that as I came to the realization that I would not be able to put together my long-desired Renaissance outfit for Halloween without getting a pair of tights. Colored tights.

The acquisition is half the problem. I really do not want to have to explain myself in the face of the puzzled store clerk as to why a man is purchasing pantyhose. I could lie and say it’s for my (non-existent) wife. I could also take the approach of Bill Cosby, who proudly announced – while dealing with a toothache – “I want some Midol, and it’s for me!”

Photos from my past and the tales they tell.

This story originally appeared on my Facebook
page in October 2014.
Yes, I know I could get tights at one of the ubiquitous costume stores around town and dodge the hairy eyeball. But I need something the ladies politely call a “control top.” Renaissance tights had the same thing. I am deliberately also avoiding spending $40 or more on period-correct hosen, knowing the odds of it sprouting a run are not in my favor. I want something inexpensive and disposable given the sheer energy of my historic pursuits.

My first attempt takes me to Walmart, which thankfully has a self-checkout line. I slip a pair of purple tights in with several groceries, trying to make things look as normal as possible.

And yet, Murphy has to lay down his law somewhere. The moment after I scan the hose, the machine locks up, asking for an attendant for a price check. Now I’m going to have to explain it. A grizzled old man walks over and tries to reset the machine. He immediately runs into trouble just logging into the thing, grumbling and probably cursing under his lispy breath. When he finally gets past security, he can’t understand what the machine is trying to tell him.

I can. It says it wants a price for “CONTROL TOP TGTS.” Yet he seems to think the pack of hot dogs I’m holding in my other hand are the source of all this trouble.

“Can you remember what you paid for them?”

“I think $4. I can’t remember the cents.”

He doesn't want to call for a price check. Having mercy on me, that’s what he punches into the machine. He never figured out something was up with the tights.

When I got them home and unwrapped them, I noticed the package mentioned a “cotton gusset.” I had no clue what that was until I saw it... and saw where it was. When my face regained its normal color, I told myself the manufacturer might as well have put in a codpiece.

The fitting turned into a cramping, constraining experience. They fit, yes. Fit like a steak fits under shrink wrap. The label said I had the right size for my height and weight, provided I was a woman. The problem had to be my thighs. I knew I needed to go up a size.

I later returned to that Walmart, found myself an extra-large pair of tights that also matched my outfit more closely, went through the self-check with no price-check, and savored success after the fitting. Form and comfort at last. Still I don't know how my crown-and-tunic-wearing ancestors lived with something that feels a touch confining, even if it did make their legs look smooth and silky, shapely, sexy.

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