Ok, ladies. If this does not make you laugh, then you have never worn "dress up clothes."
In the foreign service, one has to move to various locations around the world. At one post you may be wearing the least amount of clothing possible and your very next post might be in Siberia. This, of course, makes for a drastic change in wardrobe contents. Take for instance, panty hose; also known as stockings, nylons or in German, "shrumphosen." It would have been useful to know this word before venturing out to the mall to buy some, but that comes later.
My last post was Sierra Leone, West Africa, where the average temperature is about 85 degrees. There was no need for panty hose or any other form of clothing that would cling to your body when the humidity matched the temperature. I had a closet full of sun dresses and flip flops. I managed to wear nice dresses with a suit jacket and heels to the Embassy, but only because of the very American air conditioning system that no one else in Freetown enjoyed. But panty hose? I didn't own a pair. Because I lived in Texas prior to Sierra Leone, my panty hose collection has pretty much been void for the past 20 years.
Now I'm in Germany, where it's a good day if it doesn't rain. The fall temps feel chillingly like winter and then I remember it's nearly November and of course, nearly winter. I look sadly at my flirty summer wardrobe and wonder if I will be able to put together anything decent and warm and professional for my first day at Embassy Berlin. I select a black skirt, long sleeved top and a suit jacket. I add a few pearls and I'm ready to impress. Hmmmmm, what to wear on my legs with the temp around 45? Oh yes, panty hose! I remember I brought a pair along for church in Minnesota and they are somewhere in my suitcase that has yet to be unpacked. With a bit of searching, I find them and pull them on. They look great! Then I notice a BIG hole/run in them that just about coincides with the hem of my skirt. I wonder and wonder if I might be able to pull this off, but then think it's not worth the hassle of worring about my wardrobe on such an important first day at work. I find a pair of black slacks and put them on over the panty hose and they look ok. Of course, I think the pants are too form fitting to be wearing to work but at this point in the morning, I just need to get out the door and I hope my pearls will cover any wardrobe mistakes. That was Chapter 1 of Panty Hose Saga.
I decide to go to the mall after work to buy panty hose for day two at the Embassy, and thus begins Chapter 2 of Panty Hose Saga. I went to the supermarket and saw a display of normal looking panty hose in little cardboard boxes. I picked up one of the boxes and looked at the sizing....what in the world? The sizing was something like 36-38, 42-44 and 46-48. I chose the middle size and took them home. The next morning as I put them on, they went up past my waist and felt about as saggy as you can get. I had to wear them anyway because I had no other choice. The whole day I kept pulling them up....it felt like they went up to my chin.....and hoping no one noticed the wrinkled parts around my ankles. Ugh, I could not wait to get home and throw them away.
The next day I went back to the mall and this time I bought TWO pairs of panty hose so I would have a back up in case something went horribly wrong. This begins Chapter 3 of Panty Hose Saga. The first pair had cute little designs on them so I felt like I was in Paris when I put them on. The size was right but they were a bit itchy. My Dad says one must "suffer to be beautiful" and this day I fit the bill just right. When I got home, there was a huge hole where my toe had poked through (sorry guys, if this is too graphic for you), so I threw them away too. The second pair I bought that night came with a special shopping experience. I decided to go to a proper shop and ask a proper sales lady for help. I tried asking her in German, but I didn't know the word for panty hose. Finally through exagerated gesturing, I got the idea across and she said, "Oh, you want Schrumphosen" and led me to the proper display. I thought Schrumphosen was a funny word so I kept repeating it both because it was fun and because I wanted to remember it. I chose a size and brought it to the counter to purchase. There was a group of business men also at the counter and for some reason they thought it was funny that I was buying Strumphosen. They kept repeating the word and talking to the clerk and everyone was snickering except me because I could not understand a word they were saying! Now guys, tell me you have at least seen your girlfriend or wife buying panty hose and it wasn't cause for joking around. Anyway, I was wishing the clerk would put my Schrumphosen in a plain brown paper wrapper so I could get the heck out of there. Finally I escaped to the privacy of my apartment.
Chapter 4 of Panty Hose Saga finally has a happy ending. I wore the final pair today and they were....perfect! The size was correct, the elastic was actually present so they didn't fall down and they felt great. Best of all, they held up the whole day so I can also wear them tomorrow!
So the next time you Ladies slip into a pair of panty hose, thank your lucky stars that you (a) know your size, (b) know the word for panty hose and (c) don't have a boyfriend or husband who thinks panty hose should be purchased under cover of darkness!