I looked to the left of my desk last night, and that is what I saw, on a bookcase I inherited from Sophie that she painted Pepto Bismal pink with her dad and then later abandoned when she decided her favorite color was Elsa-blue.
Let’s discuss that pink for a hot minute.
One of the earlier jobs I had in my life was working for a place called Delta Hosiery.
Delta Hosiery occupied a space about the size of a shoebox in a strip mall in Springfield, PA (one of the most Springfieldy Springfields of all), and I was the sole employee. It sold discount pantyhose, a small selection of socks, a small selection of dance wear, and nothing else. My most recurrent customers were “professional” dancers (read as strippers), who had way better bods than me. And, the entire inside of the store, walls, and ceiling, cheap industrial carpet, was Pepto Bismal pink.
I spent many a long day and night there, making the minimum wage don’tcha-know people, alone with book after book to read, or watching Unsolved Mysteries on the tiny black and white portable TV Delta had supplied me with to help with the crushing boredom. This choice of TV shows would often make me afraid to leave the lonely store at night, in the dark. “It was right here where she left her job at the lonely hosiery outlet to walk to her car, and was never seen again. Maybe you can help solve a mystery!”
I was allowed to put up a “be back soon” sign on the door for 15 minutes to run and get food at one of the attached eateries in the strip mall, or to pee in the tiny toilet in the back in a room so small the sink was outside the room. And it never failed, the minute I headed over to Salad Alley, as I was walking up the hill toward it, I would hear the bell on the door rattling as some woman tried in vain to get in, shaking the door like mad to try to get it to open. As I’d already gotten half-way to the salad, I would keep going, and when I came back I’d have either lost a sale, or the woman would be waiting, visibly steaming, outraged that she had to wait to get her taupe thigh highs or her smoke control tops. And I always wondered at the popularity of those colors. In the most Springfieldy of Springfields there were no people of color to speak of, so my clients were universally white, and, aside from the strippers, women who topped the incredibly old age of 50, and they just loved their smoke and taupe and coffee hosiery. By that point in my life I was evolved enough as an adult to have declared pantyhose of any kind off the table for me forever. (I am too old (21) to be uncomfortable while going to church I don’t even believe in!) But, that being said, everyone knows that black pantyhose are the only choice a person of style should make. TAUPE? Before I worked at Delta Hosiery I had never even heard the word taupe (pronounced tope, like dope, I was told by the district manager), and my vocabulary was not small. Taupe, you elude me still; I cannot understand why someone would choose such a muddy, non-specific color to cover their white legs with. I also could not understand how anyone, even the strippers, could comfortably wear pantyhose without underwear, which was a thing that happened right about that time. Do not worry World! I am not likely to go commando anytime soon. I like underwear! TMI? Actually, I think Delta may have sold underwear too. In fact, I remember some women called them panties, but, trust me, they were definitely underwear. I know the difference.
One thing I can say in favor of pantyhose though: they are very silky and beguiling to the touch.I remember feeling that I could not resist touching them as I walked through the store each day after opening up. I totally get why perverts like them! Are there perverts anymore? Is that word a thing still? Wait, am I a pantyhose-fondling pervert myself? If I try to run for office now, someone will find this and say I once confessed to being a pervert.
My favorite story about working at Delta Hosiery? The Saturday I was restocking the metal prongs that stuck out from the wall and held the limited selection of socks. When an empty prong is sticking out from a wall it is so thin it is easy not to see it, which is what happened to me when I bent down, and hit myself in the brain (forehead) with a prong I didn’t see. The next thing I know, two women were standing over me and trying to wake me up. Had it not been a Saturday, who knows how long I would have been on the floor in the rarely visited store, unless my most reliable stripper would have come in for a refill on her bare-to-waist control-tops.
The last thing I remember about Delta Hosiery is how the pink would get to me. I’ve never been a fan of pink in general. I was never one of those blonds who went through a pastel/earthtones phase. Blech. And, sometimes, the vibrating Pepto Bismal pink, from the ceiling, from the walls, from the rug in the tiny rectangle of a store, was just too much to take, like a visual tinnitus. And so sometimes, when I left at night, I was unsteady on my feet, like I was coming off an amusement ride.
I looked, but I can find no record of Delta Hosiery’s existence on the internet. I guess they were pre-internet. However, doubting Thomas, here’s proof of their existence, found, like much of history, on eBay.
Ahhh, Fern, what are you doing now?
Delta Hosiery was, like many of the jobs I have had, not hard, but not even remotely interesting. That store could even take the fire out of strippers I tells ya….
Now, for the love part. And in case you ever doubted my ability to go off on a tangent, you now know I can.
And so, as you may know, I have rearranged the office many times. And somehow, in my possession, are two framed photos that are the exact same photo: my Chad, my darling Chad.
How I miss his dear little face. My mother says he had a bark that would go through her skull, or some such thing. I don’t remember him making a sound. But I do remember how I loved him, and he loved me, and I loved him enough to put several photos of him in my office, and, apparently, two closest to my line of sight when I sit at my desk. Normally, when I look over at his photo, I don’t even notice there are two, and I certainly almost never notice the Pepto Bismal pink bookcase beneath them.
We see what we want to see.
And what we want to see our starving eyes can never get enough of.