As embarrassing days go, this was a kicker.
It was Easter Sunday finally. I had waited and waited for this day. I had abstained for forty days as was mandatory for Catholics – a way of identifying with the sufferings of Our Lord Jesus Christ I guess. I had abstained from makeup, too much fun and well.., too much happiness. Ideally, you were supposed to abstain from meat but I hardly ever ate meat to start with- and no I’m not a vegetarian. There was just not enough money to buy meat. So it’s finally here. For weeks I had planned on breaking my abstinence- for lack of a better word – with this killer skirt and blouse I had sewn way before the lent began. Prior to then, I felt it was too classy for a normal Sunday and a reserved it for a better time-today being the better day. I wasn’t exaggerating when I called it a killer outfit because killer it was. It was a pink material and everybody who knows me knows about my never ending duel with the color pink. I hate pink ‘cos I felt it made me look ‘girly’ and for me, ‘girly’ was synonymous to ‘weak’. My hatred for pink notwithstanding, i was in love with this outfit. Alarm bells should have gone off in my head but if they did I didn’t hear or chose what to hear. The skirt gave me a fish like appearance including the tail giving me a figure just like Ariel the mermaid’s. I was beautiful and I knew it. I took extra care with my makeup. I had not applied it for days-forty days to be precise-so I had to make today’s makeup count.
While I was getting ready for Church, Dan, my friend and church member came to look for me. As was the norm, whoever got ready for church first called on the other. It usually was me but today was as I say, well, different. The teasing words I’m sure were about to leave his mouth about him getting ready before me were replaced by a stunned look on his face. There and then, I decided it was worth it. I gave him a seat and asked him to give me a few more minutes and he quickly told me to take my sweet time. He still hadn’t recovered from the different me, I could see. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not ugly at all, not even passably so, I just didn’t have the time for too much frivolities.
Fast forward a few more minutes and we were in church. Though we were only slightly late, the church was nearly filled to the brim. Instead of thinking how much like sardines we were going to be packed for the next few hours, I thought about the number of eyes that followed me as a walked the long distance to the front of the church. Dan unwittingly followed me to the front. It wasn’t our usual position but I walked straight to the front giving him no room to protest about the nearness of our seat to the altar. I am not vain so I did not give in to the temptation of looking at the window plane to see the reflection of my face. After all, I had left the house a few minutes ago and my face was not bound to change in the time it had taken us to get to the church. I attracted some attention as I walked by. I gave no indication that I noticed even though I could see them from the corners of my eyes. I sat down and continued with the motions of the Mass all the while making eye contact with a few gentlemen who I’m sure couldn’t get their eyes off me. Lord forgive me for distracting them in Church but I didn’t force them to look at me and well if your eyes cause you to sin, you cut them off right? After a while I forced myself to pay total attention to the priest and what he was saying. I was soon caught up with what he was saying that I forgot about myself as I tried to put myself In the Place of Jesus.
Soon it was time for prayer of the faithful-another part of the mass. It required standing up for the length of the prayer so I stood up as did other church members. Soon, the prayer was over and as I sat down, I heard a sound that sounded like the breaking of a zipper. It sounded too close for comfort so I gingerly but discretely felt for the zipper of my skirt all the while praying it wouldn’t be mine but alas this was one prayer God didn’t listen to. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said it was His way of paying me back for distracting the brethren in church. Belatedly, I remembered that I had laid out pink panties subconsciously perhaps to match my pink outfit. The error of my panties color selection became known to me when I realized it would draw more attention to me-it being a plain piece of clothing standing out in the midst of the pink patterned skirt. I tried not to draw attention to myself as I tried to decipher the extent of the damage. I also realized to my increasing alarm, that the chair I sat on was one of those chairs that had the junction of the waist and buttocks open. I was in shock as I realized that my panties were shinning in the sun.
Nearly panicking now, I reached for my handbag to see if I would find a safety pin or an office pin or anything at all I could use to close the gaping hole on my skirt. I realized with a wry smile that in the bid to be more fashionable, I had forgone my normal Sunday bag for a classier one. As a rule, I always made sure that my every day bags contained essentials such as assorted pins, hand sanitizers, perfumes, insect repellents and other things. Notice I didn’t mention make up. Though I applied make up on my face, I considered it too impractical to go about with it. The bag I carried to Church had nothing of that sort. I was totally done for. Soon, it would be time for offering and everyone had to get up and give their offering. I really had to think fast. As a million and one things ran through my mind, I remembered my friend Laura telling me a story about her mum who was known to yell “who hung the dustbin in the bathroom” anytime she saw what she considered a worn out pair of panties spread out to dry. I consoled myself with the fact that my pants were new even though I was sometimes guilty of wearing worn out pants – after all I reasoned then, “who would see it but me?”
When I was running out of ideas, I inwardly laughed at myself remembering I was sitting in the front. The very reason I sat down in front seemed to mock me. If I had sat at the back like I was used to, it would have been easier for me to slip out of the church without being noticed. The irony of the situation was not lost on me. A taunting voice in my head -I’m not sure whose it was- seemed to say “You wanted notice right? Why are you shying away from it all of a sudden?” As it seemed to me that all hope was lost, I remembered that I had I had put a scarf in my bag moments before I left for church. It was an abnormal thing to do because the Church I now attended did not mandate you to cover your hair as was the case in Nigeria so I didn’t bother covering my hair. Instinct, inner voice, whatever you call it had made me put the scarf in my bag. I had learnt long ago not to ignore the inner voice in my head and it paid off. I grabbed my bag and pulled out the scarf. It was rumpled and so obviously mismatched and different from my outfit but I didn’t care. It didn’t matter to me anymore that the young men who sat on the bench behind me had seen my underwear- well, some parts of it anyway. Stylishly, I tied it round my waist to cover the zipper part. I told the gentleman seated close to me to give me room to pass and I calmly walked out of the church with my head raised up high. All was now well in my world. Only those who were sitting behind me, if any, knew of my plight. Dan, I’m not too sure, knew and I wasn’t about to ask him if he knew. How would I have shaped my mouth to say:
“Dan, did you see my panties in church today?”