It is the eve before I depart on my newly initiated annual trip to New Orleans. With the time showing just minutes to 11pm, it has become apparent that a) I have yet again left packing to the last minute and b) I have absolutely nothing to wear. I realize, of course, that every woman has nothing to wear, but I really do have nothing to wear.
Two years on this rock has resulted in the complete and utter demise of my entire wardrobe. My clothes have been bleached by the sun, degraded by the salt, discoloured, tattered, and half-eaten by bugs. It is only when I’m about to re-enter my old world that I take a good look at myself and realise that not only are my clothes desperately in need of attention, so too am I. Which is where I find myself now: instead of excitedly anticipating tomorrow’s adventure, I have faffed about for hours and performed a slightly manic last minute groom. Now I need to pack.
Fortunately, I always schedule a shopping day into the first part of my trip. I’d love to do this at home and spend my precious holiday time doing something more exciting, but, sadly, my nearest town holds little more than a couple of tourist shops whose selection of brightly coloured “been there, seen that” t-shirts hold little appeal. So instead, I pick a town with a mall for the start of my trip and prepare a list of all the items I need to buy. I then waste an entire day of my vacation traipsing around, overwhelmed by all the choices, outraged by the crowds of people, and thoroughly fed up by the end of it. I’ve learnt that snack stops are essential, margaritas preferable, and that throwing in a movie mid-shop lifts everyone’s moods (just an FYI, this is especially essential if you’re shopping with your partner in tow).
While pretty much everything needs replacing, there are two items that I require in bulk: flip flops and knickers. When I’m not barefoot, the flip flop really is the only foot attire worn on the island. I’m currently wearing out pair #28 since my arrival. This may seem excessive but they just seem to be one of those things that either go missing or fall apart, much like a lot of things on an island. They also have to tolerate a 6’6″ giant’s (a.k.a. the aforementioned partner’s) repeated attempts to remove them from my feet. Some people it seems, like a cat without whiskers, are unable to estimate their size and have a tendency to step on my heels whilst I’m walking, stretching the life out of my flip flops. It is this perfected technique which has now taken me from 8 pairs in September down to 2 pairs today.
The need for a bulk purchase of knickers may sound odd, but know that as much as I like sexy lingerie, I’m not really into the crotchless variety – which is what I’m currently stuck with. I don’t know how many pairs the average woman goes through in a year, but I suspect I go through considerably more. There are two reasons for this, neither of which are kinky: underwear-eating bugs and something my gran told me as a child.
The bugs have not been identified, but I’ve been told by a former island dweller that it is likely the small green crickets, as they have a taste for cotton and lace. I’ve yet to find one hopping out of my underwear drawer, but they can often be heard chirping away from inside the walls of my bedroom, so it’s quite possible that they are the culprit. A quick online search for underwear-eating insects suggests that I’m not alone and neither are the crickets – apparently moths, mice, and something called silverfish also like to terrorize people’s bloomers. The first hole can be easily dismissed, but more than one and you start to question whether or not you should be wearing these, which leads me to my gran.
As a child, she told me to “always make sure you have clean underwear on”. While this is a reasonable request in terms of hygiene, I find it slightly ludicrous if you know what it is that my gran is actually referring to. For those of you who weren’t given this line as a child, the real point of having clean underwear on when you leave the safe confines of your house is all about limiting your embarrassment were you to be in a serious accident. By which I mean, the type of accident where someone other than you needs to remove your clothing for you. I’m fast approaching my mid-thirties and this phrase still runs through my head in the morning. When faced with a new style of gusset lace, I ponder, “If a stranger where to see these, would I be embarrassed?” If the answer is yes, in the bin they go, and here lies my never-ending quest for new underwear.
But this time around, I shall return to the rock prepared. For not only will I be bringing a year’s supply of underwear and flip flops, but I shall also be picking up a year’s supply of lavender bags. After much research, it would appear that the old fashioned remedies are still the most effective at repelling pesky little insects. Going forward, I will now have bay leaves in my pasta jar and lavender in my knickers drawer. I seem to remember my gran doing the same – perhaps there is wisdom to her words…