Because Delta Burke Said So
by Becky Liendo
“If there’s one thing my mother always told me, it was to always wear clean underwear. You never know when you’ll end up in a car accident.”
There is a dilemma that I still face at the age of 24: are thongs really that much more comfortable than my plain-Jane-cotton “getting what I paid for” panties? While growing up, my younger sister promised me a few things—one of those promises being that she wouldn’t go to the dark side. The dark side of rectal floss. Well, I’ve been betrayed, and of course, like a scorned woman who has lost a friend to a better version of myself, I had to investigate the lure of the thong.
Wearing a black sweater, black jeans, hair down and sunglasses, I made my first stakeout at a Ross department store. Arms crossed, I casually walked to the silver, tiered racks, seizing the moment when the aisle was clear of onlookers. I skimmed and scanned the little pieces of material on those impossible, tiny hangers, gingerly at first. After taking hold of a possible pair that “looked cute on the hanger,” I placed my fingers under the elastic and stretched the fabric as far as I could. Still alone in the aisle, I stretched and twisted the elastic—not as a test of dexterity or strength but merely to stretch it in disgust. A silver cart with blue bumpers on the corners turned into the aisle and I freaked out. Should I ever need a sling shot, I could find a cheap one at Ross for $1.99. The thong slapped against my chin and fell onto my purse, which I had put down on the floor between my feet. The intruder, a pregnant woman, smiled and began to browse the bras at the end of the aisle. I tried to put the thong back onto the hanger but like I said, those hangers are impossible and ridiculously tiny. I slung the elastic over the neck of the hanger and put it back onto the cold rack. I turned around and walked to the other side, seemingly browsing the bras like any other woman would, yet eyeballing the thongs on the opposite side.
When the coast was clear, I made my way back and started to slam the hangers from right to left fast enough to get a glimpse of the size. Extra small, extra small, medium, medium, medium, medium, medium, medium, small. The first large I found was fucking huge—I guess that’s why it was at Ross being sold with a tag stamped “defect product.” The pattern was sensible, a nude color with a teeny-tiny white ribbon rosette centered on the waist line. Again, I stretched and closely examined the back of the garment, trying to imagine the elastic. I couldn’t imagine it; I shuddered at the thought of the elastic. Did I forget to mention that this Ross has, for remodeling purposes, relocated their lingerie “aisle” next to the men’s department? I guess I did. Well, there was this one man who was standing in the aisle across from me. He was on the men’s side so it wasn’t exactly that creepy but I experienced such a feeling of dread. There was a knot in my stomach as he stared at me—this thong was also stubborn, refusing to get back onto the hanger and only prolonging my discomfort as I stood there with a thong and a 40-something man staring at me the entire time. He had this smile on his face when I finally walked away, a smile that just stabbed past and through me. I imagine that smile is seen at every strip bar, street corner, bed of a truck all over town. Yeah—I felt right at home, again.
The next day, in hopes of concluding my research, I took the plunge and made the great trudge to the mall. After experiencing the very low end of self esteem, I decided to try the high end: Victoria’s Secret. I met the very nice Monica, who wanted to measure my bust to make sure that my breasts were getting the correct support. By the looks of the merchandise and the especially large ads, I was sure that someone could pick up the support I didn’t want.
“What can I help you with today if I can’t assist you with your bra size?” She spoke with that retail voice, too sweet and not giving a shit.
“Well, I was curious about the thong.”
“Oh shit,” was all I could think as we started to walk.
She smiled at me, and led me toward the back of the store. I felt as if I she was going to tap on the wall a few cryptic times and the dressing rooms would turn dramatically, with a fog machine somewhere, leading me into a dungeon where I would be tortured with thongs, thus fulfilling my curiosity.
“These are special thongs. They can tuck in your tummy,” she says, looking down at my tummy. “And they stay in place.”
“Stay in place—because that’s called riding. And, well, it’s a piece of elastic that is nestled…”
“Well, if you put it that way, of course. But it hides your tummy. That’s a bonus.”
“Oh Jesus,” I sigh and walk out of the red room into the pink room and out of the store.
Not feeling very well about that visit, I walked to Dillard’s and made my way to the lingerie department. There were sensible slips and red, black, white, and pink silky ribbony things hanging everywhere, and then there was a table. A table surrounded by four white, 14 year old girls wearing miniskirts, halter tops, flip flops and that curled hair that seems to be very popular—you know, the just got out of bed look. They were browsing the “thong” table, giggling and answering cell phones. I slipped behind a circular rack of bras that were marked 75% off and waited for them to finish. I haphazardly started to move a few hangers right to left, looking at the bras and underwear on sale. Of course I was looking at the wrong size: 34A. I circled the rack and found the 38B marker. Slim pickings for me.
The second row on the rack had the larger sizes and from there I could see the unisex haircut, white face, huge blue eyes and sly smile glaring at me. Delta Burke was looking up my skirt, mocking me for being such a prude about the situation. I looked at the bras and underwear hanging with her tags—40D, 38DD—holy shit, there was a Delta Burke-approved thong dangling on a hanger. It was very pretty—black lace, demure yet sexy. It was a huge thong that wouldn’t fit me but there was hope when I saw that the rest of the rack was nothing but Delta Burke thongs. The girls had left and I walked over to the table ready to just grab a reject thong and slam it onto the counter. I opened my hands and picked up a simple lime green triangular contraption and it was a size large. Perfect.
Two dollars and fifteen cents later, I walked to the bus stop holding my purse, waiting for a purse snatcher to rob me and humiliate me or worse. I hoped and prayed that the bus wouldn’t crash and all that they would find of my identification, when I was passed out somewhere on a gurney, would be a red wallet, change at the bottom of the purse, lip gloss, pen and paper and… a lime green, large thong.
Becky Liendo was born and raised in Laredo, TX. She currently writes for and about her culture, family, and life (so far). She has a degree in English and Art History from the University of Texas and her work has been published in The Rio Review and Hothouse Journal.
July 1, 2010
Because Delta Burke Said So