Perils of Pauline

On Wednesdays when it’s time to get my steps, my mind goes shopping for a topic for that week’s blog. Today my interior Time Machine took me back to Phoenix in 1980.

That’s the year the divorce from my first husband was finalized. He was living in Las Vegas with his mother at the time and was due to see the kids over Christmas vacation. Since they were still in primary school, I was hesitant to send them by plane. When my Mary Grandma, my former mother-in-law, invited me to come and stay, that’s exactly what I did.

One evening, she invited me to go to dinner with her while my ex took our kids and their two cousins to a drive-in movie. Since the drive-in literally shared a fence with Mary Grandma’s mobile home park, that seemed reasonable enough. She and I dressed up for our evening out while he and the kids went off to the drive-in.

When we came home, it was readily apparent that my ex had been imbibing in adult beverages while watching the movie, so I decided to take the cousins back home. I believe I already mentioned that Mary Grandma and I had dressed up that night—heels, hose, the whole nine yards. After dropping off the cousins, as I was leaving my sister-in-law’s home, one of my high heels caught in a crack in her driveway. Down I went. I limped back to Mary Grandma’s with a sprained wrist, a sprained ankle, bloodied knees and torn pantyhose. My ex thought it was hilarious. “I thought I was the one who was drunk,” he told me.” Grrr!

That was on Saturday night. On Sunday the kids and I drove back to Phoenix so I could be at work on Monday morning. The next two nights, however, I noticed that when I moved the covers, my sprained wrist hurt enough that it woke me up.

Within days of my husband moving out of the house, things had started going haywire. One of the items on the fritz was the toilet in the ensuite bath of the master bedroom. Sometimes it would flush; sometimes it wouldn’t. When it wouldn’t, all it took was a quick fist bump on the top of the flushing tank to get it going again.

On Tuesday morning, when the toilet didn’t flush, I whacked it with my right hand. The toilet flushed all right, but I ended up sitting on the toilet crying for the next five minutes because my wrist hurt so much. Once I dropped the kids off at school and preschool, I went to the office of one of my insurance clients. Dr. Ranjit Bisla just happened to be an orthopedic guy. He ordered an X-ray of my wrist. “While you at it,” I told the technician, “maybe you’d better X-ray my ankle, too.” He did, and that afternoon, when I picked the kids up from school, I had a walking cast on my left foot and another cast on my right wrist.

This was the old days. Pantsuits weren’t really standard office wear at the time. I went to work each day in heels and NoNonsense Pantyhose. On Wednesday morning, when it came time to get dressed for work, I was at a loss as to how to deal with wearing a skirt while also wearing the cast.

I was a single mom with two kids and no child support. No Nonsense Pantyhose were expensive. So when I’d get a run in one leg, I’d put the damaged pair aside in my underwear drawer. Then, once I had two damaged pairs, I’d cut the legs with the runs in them off and then wear two tops with one good leg each. That double pair of tops made my no-nonsense pantyhose truly no-nonsense as a guy who tried to pinch me discovered much to his dismay.

But that morning, I cut off the one bad leg well below my knee and the toes off mid-foot. Then, I stuffed the leg part into the cast from the top and the toe part into the cast from the bottom. Viola!! There I was decked out in appropriate dress-for-success fashion.

The next six weeks seemed to last forever, but I managed to lighten the load with humor. Whenever someone asked me how I got my pantyhose on, I told them either, “I put them on over my head,” or “I was wearing them when it happened.”

Because, as Art Linkletter used to say, “Laughter really is the best medicine!”

24 thoughts on “Perils of Pauline

  1. Thank goodness we can now wear pantsuits to dress for work! You certainly are a trooper. So wonderful that you could write yourself to a better life, and gladden our days with your imagination.

  2. My laugh of the day. I too did your panty hose trick. It was pure luxury to be able to buy a box of 3 pair of new No Nonsense hose and wear an intact pair.

  3. Glad you got rid of your now ex. He sounded like a rotten person.

    But kudos for your innovation and creativity.

  4. I have always thought that in a bad situation; laughing is better than crying. Neither solves the problem but laughing certainly makes one feel better.

  5. With all the bad happenings, you saw the humor in each obstacle.

    No Nonsense panty hose…I thought I was the only one who did the two for one make do! Clear nail polish to stop a run….then I had to remember to check if it showed when I stood up. It’s funny now but at the time, I’d be wondering if I could make it to payday with what I had. Then came pantsuit and knee highs…freedom, precious freedom.

    Thanks for the laughs! Loved you were wearing them when it happened! What a word picture!

  6. A funny story and it brought back the memory of No nonsense pantyhose, those
    were great and I also did like you when I got a run. We are of the same age and
    when you write about your memories, you also bring back mine, thanks.
    And I want to mention that I have read all your books and am always waiting
    for another one.

  7. Thanks for a great memory! Reminded me of my early working days…

    Living in The Bronx, I had to take the subway to Manhattan. In the summer, it was sweltering but it was worse in the snowy winters. There were strict, unwritten rules about what women should wear to work, preferably modest dresses, nylons, and, of course, heels. Many a cold snow day, I would bundle up in warm pants over my dress or skirt and galoshes, carrying a bag with a change of clothes. At work I would hurry to the ladies’ room, peel off my trousers, shrug off my boots, and put on heels, ready to be inspected (ogled) by my supervisors to ensure I was dressed properly. A few years later, we were “allowed” to wear pant suits, providing they matched, but still were required to wear heels although we were allowed trouser socks (anyone remember those?)
    I was 16 at the time and needed working papers…my how times have changed!

  8. You are one resourceful lady! As they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention-”
    I admit that I had to read your description of the pantyhose-combo-process a few
    times to grasp the sequence of steps you took in perfecting the look of a well-dressed professional-
    I do wonder how you accomplished all that with a sprained wrist-

  9. Love this! I also wore two half-pairs of pantyhose. Those were the days, weren’t they? People are probably still trying to figure out your answer that you put them on over your head.
    My Mussion Calley Chorus still talks about your chat with us.

  10. I was another one who wore two panties with one intact leg each. And I was very loyal (still am!) to No Nonsense. But I have to say you managed the stocking-with-a-cast trick masterfully!

    I was the oddball who liked to wear skirts and hose on snowy days. I’m not very tall, so the bottoms of my pants legs often got soaked, or higher up on the legs if I tucked the pants into boots. Boston snow piled higher and deeper! If the pants were soaked, they took a long time to dry, but pantyhose dried quickly. After schlepping dress shoes around while wearing boots, and occasionally forgetting to bring shoes from home, I started keeping a pair or two of dress shoes under my work desk so I’d have them already in the office. I’m happy to be living in Oregon now, where snow is rare.

    Where would we all be without our ingenuity and resourcefulness?

  11. I agree! This blog is a hoot! I still have NoNonsense from my working days (40+ years ago!) and hope to never have to put another pair on. They were the pits.

    Your resourcefulness has helped keep you moving well in a long life. Kudos to you, JA. It’s so nice to be the recipient of all your experiences and stories.

    • No Nonsense Pantyhose are like Twinkies–non-biodegradable. There are still some lurking in my underwear drawer as well.

      • I still go to an office to work, and have 20+ year-old skirts that I still wear, so my pantyhose are current.

        The ones with runs got taken to the garden shed and used to tie up tomato plants and pea vines. And since, in my early days of gardening I was still a figure skater, I had a bunch of discarded broken hockey sticks, foraged from trash barrels at the rink, to stake the tomatoes. Left those back in Massachusetts. Invested in tomato cages here in Oregon.

        • Your post reminded me that we employed well-used panty hose to hang onions to keep them from rotting—an onion, then a knot, then an onion, etc. We had many hanging from the rafters in our basement!

          • I like that idea for onions! Our mud room pantry has a high ceiling, so I could figure out some way to hang them in there. A way to use that empty space, as well as the empty pantyhose, with maybe some sort of device to raise and lower them. Climbing is a last resort at our ages.


          • Just a thought: those hose stretch a good bit. If you hung them somewhere out of the way of your head on a plant hook firmly anchored in the ceiling, there might be enough stretch in the hose to harvest most of the onions by pulling one down, clipping it off at the beginning of the next knot, until you’d used most of them. And if you started the onions lower in the hose, you could probably get all of them without having to lower anything. The hardest part would be putting the hook in the ceiling.

          • They are stretchy! One reason they work well to restrain growing plants.

            I am amazed at the strange and practical turn this week’s comments have taken. Love this little community!

  12. You are so funny but you were not a single mom…you were a divorced mom who did her best to make a family for her children. Just a play on words but I love you dearly…truly

  13. What a genius idea! I had such a chuckle picturing you altering your pantyhose to fit the dress code of the day. Thank you for always brightening my day.

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