Are you enjoying the warm sunny weather as much as I am? The thought of long, hot summer days and wonderful cool evenings spent stargazing on our deck keeps me smiling during the cold months when at times I can’t see out of my windows at all. I’d like to spend as much time as possible walking in the woods and breathing in the heavenly clean air, but I’m being a good girl and working hard on the next book. Of course, it’s a compromise...I keep the office windows wide open so I can smell the breezes and hear the birds!
Our deer began to straggle in a couple of weeks back, and now they’re here in large numbers. Many are very thin, which is normal after a very tough winter, but this last winter wasn’t really that harsh. Our feeding stations are always busy, and we’re setting out extra food. On Sid’s suggestion, we’ve added supplements to the feed. Deer usually have their fawns around the first to the middle of June, and we want the mommies in the best possible condition. It’s so much fun to see the babies with their big white spots. By summer’s end, their little coats are mostly solid fawn-brown.
It’s easy to spot the ones who have been here before, and the newcomers who think any four-footed critter who comes within sight of a dwelling must be insane. The regulars come right up the hill and head straight for the feeders. Oh, they’ll look up if Sid or I come out on the deck, but while they might back off for a few minutes and stare fixedly at us over 100 feet of lawn, they usually are back at the trough within a few minutes. Not so, the strangers.
The newcomers take a flying leap fifteen feet sideways if they see a human, bound at least 50 feet into the sheltering pine trees, and then, when they realize that the regulars haven’t followed, stop and warily glance back at us. Sometimes they fade into the timber, but more often they stand and survey the situation. I’ve seen a few of them mount guard for over an hour before they decide to venture back. They come one step at a time, heads high, nostrils flaring to test the breeze, and looking, always looking, for danger. The sight of the other deer calmly chowing down at the feeders seems to reassure them, but they still approach with caution, sometimes trembling, ready to leap away at the slightest indication of trouble. The raucous screech of a Steller’s Jay, even the chirruping sounds made by squirrels, can stop their advances. But once they’ve taken a few bites, you can see them relax a little.
One doe had inched up to the trough and positioned herself by two other deer, who were ignoring their surroundings and going at the food with a concentration that implied total comfort with their surroundings, when Sissy emerged from her favored warm-weather position under the lawn swing on the deck and minced down the steps. Miss Newbie’s head shot up and she stared at this tiny creature, obviously flipping through her mental files to see if it was dangerous. It’s a stretch to say that Sissy might weigh five pounds soaking wet, and here she came, mincing across the lawn with her unique my-feet-aren’t-really-touching-this-grass air, heading straight for a deer that could have kicked her into the next county with minimal effort.
You get one guess as to who came out the victor. The new deer began backing up. The other two customers lifted their heads out of the trough, saw and identified Sissy, and went right back to eating. I’m not sure the newcomer would actually have fled, because the encounter didn’t get that far. Sissy became distracted by a squirrel and detoured over the rockery.
The May contest should bring smiles to everyone’s faces. What’s your most embarrassing moment? Check out my home page for complete details, but this time I’m offering not one, but three autographed books, and entries will be anonymously published on the website! As for embarrassing moments, here’s one of mine that happened quite recently. Never say I don’t reveal all!
A few nights back I got very, very involved with Quincy Harrigan, and instead of observing my usual, fairly early, bedtime, I was at the keyboard until long after midnight. When I finally tore myself away from that handsome cowboy and staggered into the bedroom, Sid and the resident Australian shepherds were all sound asleep and Talili was performing his usual nocturnal vocal routine of snuffles, grunts, and snores. Without turning on the lights, I dropped my clothes in a heap, grabbed my nightshirt, and was asleep in about three one-hundredths of a second.
I was awakened the next morning, after what seemed like two minutes of sleep but actually was about six hours, by my housekeeper Kate banging on the bedroom door and reminding me that I had an early nail appointment...in about twenty minutes! Yike! It took nearly that long to get to the nail salon. I hit the floor running, much to the disgust of Buddy, snatched clean underwear, jerked on yesterday’s clothes, and ran a comb through my hair while sprinting for the front door and groping for my car keys. By pulverizing all existing traffic laws, I arrived on time, only to discover that my nail tech had called in sick and no one else was available. If I had only listened to my answering machine messages, I would have known this and could simply have called to reschedule.
Oh, well. We needed some things at the grocery store, so at least my trip wouldn’t be completely wasted. I hopped out of the car, headed into the store, and grabbed a grocery cart, mentally reviewing the shopping list Kate and I had written out yesterday. I had arrived at the produce department and was examining a display of oranges when I noticed a problem. Something was definitely amiss in my left pant leg.
I glanced at my left hip. Sure enough, there was a good-size bulge about even with my hipbone, and as I took a step forward, gravity took over and the bulge descended about a half-inch. What in the world...?
And then it hit me. Yesterday’s panties. It had to be yesterday’s panties.
Well, here I was in the middle of the produce department at the front of a store I had patronized several times a week for the past ten years. Obviously, any movement was going to make the panties, bulge and all, descend further down my pant leg before they made a sensational appearance on the floor. Sticking my hand down and fishing them out via the top wasn’t really an option either because this would involve a button and a zipper. To make matters even worse, this morning I’d thrown on a pair of bright red panties and I didn’t want them making an appearance, either! And, even though it wasn’t nine yet, there were quite a few other shoppers.
I pivoted and jammed the panty bulge up against the produce counter while I considered my dilemma. I didn’t like any of my options. The restroom was across the store in the far front corner, the path leading directly past all the cashier stands and customer service. Maybe, just maybe, I could make it. Trying to look casual, I shifted my purse and took a couple of cautious steps in that direction. Big mistake. The panties immediately slid down another few inches. That made getting them out via the waistband impossible, and it also eliminated almost any chance of making it to the restroom without being overtaken by disaster. I backed up against the produce counter again.
The store’s assistant manager, who had been speaking with a cashier at the front of the store, finished his conversation and headed for me. “Good morning,” he said with his usual smile. “I’ve noticed you standing here for several minutes. Is there something I can help you with?”
I considered mentioning the wardrobe malfunction, and rejected the idea immediately. I had to figure out how to get out of this mess unobtrusively, or I’d never dare enter this store again for fear everyone would remember the incident. I had already had to strike a jewelry store off of my visiting list after the Super Big Gulp fiasco at Christmas, and if I had to avoid this grocery store I’d have to drive an additional thirty minutes every time I wanted to shop. Not an option.
I told him everything was fine and that I was just mentally reviewing what I needed to pick up. Telling me to be sure and let someone know if I needed any help, he headed for the rear of the store. Casting a thankful gaze at his retreating back, I again focused on my problem. Maybe if I sidled down the aisle with my purse pressed against the bulge, I could do it casually enough to escape unwelcome attention, and also keep the panties from sliding down any further. It was worth a try. After making sure no one was noticing me, I inched along and successfully arrived at the end of the aisle.
I stood by the turnips and eyeballed my goal. The restroom was a good hundred feet away and the front aisle was wide and unencumbered to allow room for checkout lines. I would have no displays to hide behind. Now what? Back to the good old purse-as-camouflage. Not for the first time, I thanked my lucky stars that I have a passion for briefcase-sized handbags. I managed to clamp the purse against the lump caused by the panties with only a slight list to port, took a deep breath, and stepped out into the front aisle.
I only got about ten feet. The panties shot downward and would have hit the floor, but I dropped my purse and grabbed the back of my leg just below the knee and prevented it. Now I was really in a fix! A young woman selecting tomatoes came over and asked me if I was all right. Well, how do you answer a question like that in the middle of a grocery store when you are bent over clutching your leg for dear life to keep your panties from spilling out in the middle of the store? I thought fast, told her I had a muscle cramp and would be fine in a moment, and, after collecting my purse, took a couple of hopping steps in the direction of the restroom. This attracted even more attention, including that of a couple of store employees who knew me! In less than a minute I was surrounded by three people all wanting to help with my muscle cramp. I told them I would be fine as soon as I got to the restroom and massaged my leg.
One of the employees sprinted for the front of the store and brought up one of those carts they keep for disabled customers. At the moment, that sure described me. They sat me down sideways on it because I still maintained the death grip on my ankle, and they steered me toward the restroom. Accompanied by the stares of other customers, the little procession traversed the remaining distance and came to a stop beside the door. The young woman handed me my purse and I hopped, still in the pretzel position, through the door after thanking everyone. Mercifully, the restroom was empty and as soon as the door closed behind me I shot into a stall, snatched out the offending panties, and deposited them in the waste receptacle. I hoped I’d never see them again!
I lurked inside for about five minutes, and then decided it would be safe to emerge, having allowed time for my “muscle cramp” to go away. I headed for the door, stopping only to again thank the people who had helped me, got in the car, and drove home.
I arrived home well in advance of the time I would have, had I had my nails done, so my husband’s first question was, “Is everything okay?” I didn’t answer with words. I just looked at him as I stalked down to the master bedroom with the intention of taking a shower. My husband Sid and I have been married for over 40 years and he is a very smart man. He knows when to keep asking questions and when to shut up. He shut up.
I did tell him about it...not until several hours later when my ruffled nerves had semi-returned to normal. I would like to say that he totally sympathized with my predicament. I would like to say it — but it wouldn’t be true. He howled and whooped and wept with laughter. When he was too exhausted to laugh any more he sat mopping his eyes and grinning every time he looked at me. I thought about braining him, but if I did that I wouldn’t have anyone to draw the names of contest winners out of the jar at the end of every month, so I settled for giving him what I hoped was a withering look before I marched down the hall to resume writing Quincy Harrigan’s story.
Okay, ladies, your turn. What’s your most embarrassing moment? Check out my other letter, and the website Bulletin Board, for more contest details. I can’t wait to see your entries!
As an aside, my son has since related to me another “panty” story. He was in a store, walking behind a very attractive, well-dressed lady. She suddenly paused to swing her hips and jiggle one leg. Out onto the floor dropped a skimpy, lacy black pair of undies. She kicked them aside with the heel of her shoe and just kept walking as if nothing happened. He was the only witness. Hmm. I think that lady handled it a lot better than I did. If it ever happens to me again, I’ll try the swing-jiggle-kick technique.
Happy reading, and have a wonderful May!