Remember these, ladies?
As a child of the 80s, summer didn’t officially arrive until my mom took me to the nearest Walmart/Target/Payless Shoe Source for the annual trip to get a new pair of toxic plastic kicks. Great deliberation ensued in the aisles – glitter? iridescent? neon? For the first few weeks of summer I proudly pranced around showing off my haute couture before the neon inevitably faded from sun and sand.
It was a sad day when I discovered that my foot had attained womanhood and could no longer be crammed into a child’s size 13 jelly.
Even through college, I faithfully purchased every form of footwear that was a jelly-derivative: platform jelly flip-flops, clear plastic Melissa tennisshoes… A few years back I even found a pair of jellylike t-strap heels in Hong Kong. But none of those closely resembled the style of the jellies I had so happily sported in my childhood.
Until this year.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that jellies were back: call them hipster, call them ridiculous, but I just wanted to call them mine. Again.
Because I pretend to be a hipster, support anything “made in USA,” and also enjoy a good laugh from time to time, I always peruse new American Apparel fashions. When I saw that they were selling a glittery jelly shoe that was made completely from recycled plastic, I couldn’t type in my credit card info fast enough.
I had selected the free Pony Express shipping, which gave me about 2 weeks (seriously where were these shoes coming from) to remind my husband daily of how deliriously excited I was about the arrival of a remnant from my childhood. At the time, I was in the midst of studying for the bar exam, so I needed any bright spot of happiness.
When my husband walked in the door one day after work and announced that he was holding an American Apparel package, I ran to greet him, shrieking with delight. (This actually had nothing to do with the jellies, I always greet my husband this way.)
Yet I knew even before I ripped into the package that something was terribly wrong. This thin, limp envelope couldn’t possibly contain…
A pair of extra, extra large purple thong underwear.
And an invoice.
Addressed to Ralph. In West Virginia.*
I had Ralph’s underthings. And he had MY JELLIES.
His panty size seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t be able to fit into my size 6 jellies, but you just never know. Some bodybuilders have very dainty feet.
Since the invoice listed his contact information, I debated briefly about cutting out the middle man and emailing Ralph directly to cut a deal: “Listen we both have what the other wants- let’s just take care of this like adults…” But stalkers can be pesky and you just never know what you’re going to get when you strike up correspondence with a stranger who wears purple panties and knows your home address.
No judgment here though on Ralph’s choice of skivvies. I’m sure that many of my male acquaintances and relatives wear similar undergarments. And perhaps the purple wasn’t even for Ralph. He may have lovingly placed the order for his love interest rather than himself. Although this particular purchase was rather utilitarian for a gift. Just purple. Just cotton. Just one.
I also considered sending him a message from an anonymous email account saying “I know about the purple panties.” Just for funsies. (Now who sounds like the creepy stalker?) In the end, I decided against torturing poor ol’ Ralph and chose to frantically call American Apparel customer service.
Naturally, the jellies that had gone to Ralph were the last in my size in the warehouse, and every store in North America had to be scoured to locate another pair. After several more weeks of waiting, I finally received a package containing the long-anticipated, nostalgic, sparkly t-strap jellies that were identical to a pair I had worn in my tender youth.
Apparently recycled plastic smells so very carcinogenic.
Tearfully, I banished my new acquisition to purgatory in our half bath which doubles as a storage space (city living!) to let them “air out.”
It’s September. My jellies only smell faintly toxic now. And so, I broke tradition and began sporting jellies at the END of the summer. Or rather, the beginning of fall. I plan to wear socks with them during the autumn months. Perhaps Christmas stockings in December.
I worked too hard for these to wait until next summer.
I wonder how Ralph is wearing his pair. Of jellies. What were you thinking??
*This story is 100% true but I changed name & location of dear Ralph to protect the innocent panty-shoppers everywhere.
**I believe that “panty” is one of the top 5 grossest words. I am truly horrified that I have sacrificed my principles and used this word merely for comedic relief. It’s a fitting punishment that I have to see this word plastered across my own blog – I shudder every time. And yet I just can’t bring myself to delete it.