Devil's Head Diary


Carolyn Wiley, KP News

Coping with Dragons

Years ago, I bought a small, exquisite piece of framed calligraphy that now hangs in my laundry room, where it speaks a simple truth: 

There have been no dragons in my life, Only small spiders and stepping in gum … I could have coped with dragons.

Except for the surprise factor, small spiders are inconsequential and I’ve usually avoided gum on the bottom of my shoe. Pantyhose, however, have been a near constant threat. 

Pantyhose were a boon to the women of the 1960s, replacing the sadistic demands of the longline girdle, garter belt and scads of unmatched stockings. But improper implementation of pantyhose can inflict severe reputation scarring when combined with wide-leg bell-bottom pants.

Beware, for that fiendish fashion combination is reemerging from its long banishment to the infernal regions, where it belongs.

While undergoing an otherwise innocent new-neighbor coffee-klatch interrogation one day, I let it slip that I could play bridge. An invitation was extended to spend an afternoon assessing the variable combos of 13 and wagering on the probable alignment based upon the indispensably cryptic verbal cues. A dabbling artist, I finished up a printmaking session, doffed my inky duds by the washer, dug through the dryer, and was out the door — coiffed, bejeweled and chic in my best bell-bottoms — on my way to the first of what I assumed would be many neighborly bridge games.

Eventually, I lucked into a dummy hand and got to examine our inspired hostess-created spread. I collected a dainty plate of goodies and was on my way back to the card table when the heel of my shoe caught on something. Looking down, I saw a stocking foot dragging behind me. I stooped to grab the footie and stash it in my pocket.  But when I pulled on the foot, the other leg of my bell-bottoms was yanked up like a puffy Austrian shade. It wasn’t a footie, but a pair of pantyhose snaking up one leg and down the other.

Subtlety was lost, and I was reduced to snorting giggles as I rolled up the resistant wad of nylon. Both pant legs were riding thigh-high before the effect of static cling was overcome. Curiously, no further bridge invitations were extended and my favorite bell-bottoms eventually aged out and were relegated to pre-rag-bag grunge wear.

Soon after, while dashing in one Sunday following a morning devoted to the moral instruction of small people, I doffed the church togs without removing the pantyhose and donned my favorite grunge wear. I was eager to resume laying tile in our unfinished basement. I was well into the job when the phone rang. Expecting a call from my mother, I ran to answer the phone by the patio door. While talking, I stepped outside and assumed a relaxed, one-legged stork stance, leaning against the door jamb and balancing the other foot on my knee.

As I moved to hang up, I realized that the foot of the pantyhose was glued to the pants leg. The wide-leg bell-bottoms added to the instability of that first step as I flung myself away from the wall. There was considerable flailing and cursing during my staggering rush across the patio. No injuries, but I did moon the entire neighborhood. In retrospect, maybe my treasured calligraphy should read: 

There have been no dragons in my life Only bell-bottoms and glue on the foot of my pantyhose. I could have coped with dragons.

Carolyn Wiley copes with the changing fashions of life from Longbranch.