I was having dinner this week at Alexander Park Tavern’s Cheap Chicken Night, and I swear, I knew about everyone in the entire place. As the breasts and wings and thighs and legs with all the fixings made their way to the tables, the conversations between folks at adjoining tables and the bar overlapped. It seemed like one big party for a while, and quite frankly, we were all having a fun time.
But it was Linda who brought up one of my columns from the past, and before long, anyone in earshot was taking a stroll down that proverbial Memory Lane. We talked about this, and we talked about that. But the conversation gained momentum when we all started talking about going back to school, which led to new clothes, which led to new shoes, which led to ... are you ready for this ... new underwear.
That’s right — right there at the bar in front of God and everyone, we decided to discuss our youthful underwear. The conversation went downhill from there.
But as we chatted, we agreed heading back to school was the time when we all got new underwear, usually bought at Carp’s on Princeton’s South Main Street.
And then I asked the question: What color of underwear did you get? It was a simple question because I came from a very traditional farm family, where nothing was flashy and nothing was out of the norm. That’s right. The underwear we brought home from Carp’s was the standard package of white cotton ones — nothing more, nothing less. But oh, how we wanted more.
While the consensus was that everyone got underwear just like I did, we all clearly remembered the children whose parents must have been the coolest around because they got flowered and striped and colored underwear that would put us all to shame. You could tell the conservative families on the first day of physical education, where our brand new white underwear stuck out like a sore thumb amidst all the pizzazz of the “with-it” kids who donned more flashy varieties.
While changing into your gymsuit shouldn’t have been a big deal, it clearly was, for all of us still have the same horrid memory of trying to hide behind a locker door so as to not reveal our tidy-whiteys.
But the ultimate ... yes, the best underwear we all wanted, desired, yearned for ... the package of underwear that was probably $1 more than the white variety ... the underwear only the kids who had piano lessons and warm chocolate chip cookies on the table when they got home from school had on ... was the package that contained seven pairs of underwear — each one a different color and each one boasting the day of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. God, how we wanted that underwear, knowing full well that we’d only wear the one that said “Monday” on Monday, “Tuesday” on Tuesday, “Wednesday” on Wednesday, etc.
We begged. We pleaded. I might have even shed a tear or two. It didn’t matter. They just weren’t coming home with us. As the white package of underwear was laid upon the counter, and the clerk seemingly smirked as she tallied our order, our hearts broke in a million pieces ... well, at least seven for each day of the week.
School is back in session, and no doubt, the school clothes have been purchased. But if you’re a bit behind the curve, and you haven’t picked up that new underwear for the kids ... well, keep my saga (and other Alexander Park Tavern diners) in mind when you make your purchases. It’s been 40-some-odd years since the white underwear experience happened in my life, and I still haven’t forgotten it.
So parents, get a little crazy. Because underneath it all, the days of the week really do matter.
BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.