I used to be in the habit of not wearing underwear, to “want my ‘boys’ to move and float freely”.
When I purchased a fine suit of clothing, and was asked by the tailor,”which side I wore it on”, I would reply,”It moves like a flag in the wind!”
However, that fashionless quirk once caused a serious’ costume malfunction’ that backfired to jeopardize my career and my life!
One day, as a faculty member who taught Comparative World Religion, I discovered, after the bell had rung, that my pants had ripped on a nail from my chair..
I approached and peevishly asked another colleague, the sewing teacher, who had a sewing class next door to my classroom, if she could possibly repair it, while I waited?
She smiled and said that it would take her only a moment, to fix it.
She was a tiny and sweet old lady, with her hair done up in a white bun, whose classroom clattered with sewing machines,closely attended by an all girl population.
She had smiled and had agreed and had told me to remove my pants, and to wait inside the men’s teacher’s bathroom, around the corner from my classroom.
I was to surrender those pants to her monitor, outside of the bathroom door and she would retrieve them to me, repaired, “in a nonce”.
Two minutes after I had done that, however, bells everywhere clanged loudly in a rhythmic series of ‘threes’.
As I stood there half naked, clangs of the fire drill bell rang out, and in profound shock, I heard the muted sounds of all students lining up, en masse to exit the building!
The silence of the building, now emptied, chilled me to the marrow; I waited, semi naked and alone, grieving, for seven long minutes!
I began to panic with the truth that I had NOT that morning worn underwear!
Alone, in an empty senior high school, and suddenly half naked, I had felt forgotten, left behind in a third floor faculty bathroom, during a fire drill, forgotten like a package left under a theatre seat,
standing around in a faculty men’s room with no pants or underwear on!
Grief and self pity weighed upon me, heavily. No staff entered.
I was so frightened about my present condition that I could scarsely breathe, yet again suspiciouslyaware of larger and sinister forces of the Universe, at work behind my ‘life’s curtains’..
After seven or eight minutes of utter silence, while I marinated in fretful agony, I heard the herd multitude sound of 3200 shuffling pairs of shoes, returning.
More time passed, but there still was no friendly knock at the door, and no repaired pants.
Half naked, I was hamstrung to make my way back around the corner of the hallway to the sewing room to investigate, for I was completely without pants AND in an agony, as well without underwear!
As time progressed, I began to panic.
A cold chill and then a bitter warmth of
horror suffused throughout me.I could have simply covered my grommets with my removed shirt, butI had surrendered toheart-pounding panic.Common sense melted, and submerged, inaccessible, to me.There were teenage girls chatting audibly everywhere, beyond the faculty men’s bathroom door.
The nightmare of scandal paralyzed me.
I poked my head out of the bathroom door, and as a talking head, managed to call out to a random passing male pupil, to ask if he “could assist me.”
Would he “please go to the sewing room, just around the corner from the bathroom and call on the sewing teacher to return to my rescue, with my sewn pants?!”
After a long minute, the unknown Good Samaritan pupil returned to me.
He said that “he’d be late to class, but that the room was dark and empty.”
“And that the program posted on the door, announced that the sewing room’s teacher was at a scheduled break, for lunch!”
She had forgotten all about me, because the fire drill had distracted and scattered her thoughts!
I began to imagine what would happen to me, if after lunch, she simply left for the day!
Fear resolved into the righteous anger of indignation; I almost exploded with rage.
Plaintively, a talking head from a faculty restroom, I begged this unknown pupil to not continue on to his approaching class.
I would give him a note to excuse his lateness, and as a service to me, begged “would he please, in God’s name, run down three floors to the teacher’s cafeteria, in the basement, to find and relay my panic stricken message to that sewing teacher!!!?”
I began in enabling anger to quietly mentally curse that little M.I.A. sweet old sewing teacher lady.
Visceral waves of roiling hatred, blossomed towards her as yet unknown direction: a violent trip on a stairs, chest pain, a car accident.For the raw cruelty ofher broken promise had left me nightmarishly naked and cruelly exposed, in a vengeful universe that clearly sought my ruin, a universe eager to crush me.I still wonder what awful fate befell that innocuous, mindless woman, from my laser focus of evil intent upon her soul and bones..?What reactions would my teenage students have had?I had unleashed demons towards her uncertain direction, in guiltless spiritual retribution for my terror andmind numbing shock, and for the dire jeopardy, she had unintendedly immersed me in.For in truth, though I was cringing, naked and hiding in a faculty bathroom, just outside that doorI was surrounded outside perpetually by an ocean of ogling female pubescent teenagers in a public high school.And this sewing teacher had made me face a gruesome naked and nightmarish predicament.My rage had calmed me, empowering and less disabling than elecrtic waves of extreme panic, shame, and horror.
Staff laughingly later told me, that she was good natured, but she was notoriously forgetful.
Wish I’d known that.
I surely died a thousand private deaths, for
as I waited
my career’s professional life swam before my eyes.
What if there HAD been a REAL fire?!
After many more horrified minutes, suddenly, there she was , knocking on the teacher’s bathroom door, embarrassed but holding my returned and repaired pants up to me.
She apologized profusely for having forgotten all about me!
That unknown student had been a Godsend.
She likely never recounted this horror tale to anyone, afterwards, as it likely also faded into the recesses of her mind.
I never once, after that experience, left my house for any reason whatsoever, without underwear on.
“Don’t get caught with your pants down”, had a horrific new meaning : always wear underwear and bring along an extra pair of teaching pants.
(“I was arrested once in Germany for public nudity. I thought it was a topless beach – it was. . . . .a shipyard”