notquiteold

Nancy Roman

In Praise Of Pantyhose

Erma Bombeck, graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949, lived with her husband and family in Centerville, Ohio, and inspired people worldwide with her columns and books about life’s trials and tribulations. Her memory lives on with the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition hosted every two years by the Washington-Centerville Public Library and the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop hosted by the University of Dayton.  (Washington-Centerville Public Library)

The Erma Bombeck Writing Competition judges short essays in the categories of Humor and Human Interest, with separate competitions for local and “global” writers.

Essays are limited to 450 words. For me, who can take 450 words to meander through an opening paragraph, that is short-short-SHORT. But I edited and cut, cut and edited. And chopped, chopped, chopped. And I got down down to 445 words. And sent it in.

And it was worth it.

I’m delighted to report that my essay earned an Honorable Mention in the Humor category. 

Erma is my idol, and I am thrilled just to see my name written next to hers.

Here’s my winning story:

IN PRAISE OF PANTYHOSE

It seems that Kate Middleton has singlehandedly brought pantyhose back in fashion.

I’m so glad. Pantyhose are marvelous.  They are the airbrush of legs.

When I was twelve, my mother allowed me to wear nylon stockings to Church on Sunday. It was 1963. Nylons, though sheer, were inflexible. They only fit because they were shaped like legs.  If you were lucky enough to have leg-shaped legs.

I did not.

I was skinny. Very skinny. I like to write that twice. I don’t get very many opportunities these days to describe myself that way.

My nylons bagged around the knees and drooped around the ankles. It was sort of like wearing my own shadow.

And holding them up was tricky. Garter belts are such sexy little costumes.  But there’s a catch. If you are skinny – very skinny – (I got to write that again!) your garter belt will not stay up. You have to have hips.

I did not.

With my first pair of nylons I tried my sister’s garter belt. Three steps and the belt and stockings were at my ankles. That could be embarrassing in the line for Communion.

So my mother bought me a girdle – the smallest one she could find. It was a tiny rubber tube. Today I could use it as a waterproof case for my smartphone.

The girdle had garters on the lower seam – snap-hooks that you fastened your stockings to.  When you sat down, you had the joy of sitting on the back pair of metal hooks. Ouchy. Often one of the little suckers would let go, and give you a surprise slap on the thigh. And you’d have to surreptitiously reach under your skirt and try to refasten the stocking, where the gap between stocking top and girdle bottom had now become seventeen inches.

And I didn’t even need a girdle. I needed to hold up my stockings.

Pantyhose arrived in Connecticut my first year of high school. It was a miracle.

Pantyhose then were a long way from the stretchy perfection they are now, so they still left me with baggy knees and ankles.  But better. No girdle, no garters, no ouchy.

But pantyhose were expensive. So if I got a runner, I just cut off the damaged leg. And waited till I got a run in another pair, which never took long (Thank you, high school desk).  I’d cut off that ruined leg. Put both pair on – each had a leg – (one might have to be inside out) – and Voila!

Of course, two pairs of pantyhose were a lot like a girdle after all.

And I could use one now.

 

erma

61 Comments

  1. Love it! ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And to think-we were all doing that double panty hose top thing and only one person was smart enough to turn that concept into Spanx.

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    • We certainly missed out on a golden opportunity

      Like

  3. Congratulations!!! My girlfriends and I were just talking about pantyhose today, and how we’d cut off the legs with the runs and wear 2 pair.
    And my mom also bought me a tiny girdle to wear with my pantyhose.

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  4. Congratulations!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done for winning – even an honorable mention! There were so many entries, so that makes it even better 😊

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    • Thanks! It would have been nice to win, since I would have won a ticket to the writing conference. The conference sold out in one day. But still… bragging rights are wonderful, and I will milk them forever.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Always loved Erma. Congratulations. So many reminders… yep I had those too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. good job! congratulations! and yes, I did the two pantyhose thing too. apparently not the only one!

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    • Thanks. For women of a certain age – we all did!

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  8. Brilliant! So well written, truly. Nothing better than feeling like you’re living what you’ve been reading.

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  9. Congrats on the Honorable Mention! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sue Marquis Bishop

    Congratulations on your recognition. You deserve it. From a former skinny kid to another, I laughed a lot remembering. Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

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    • Thanks. How I hated those garters! Happy there are so many of us who remember and laugh!

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  11. Helen

    Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Woo hoo. This is wonderful. Congratulations, Nancy. The story is fantastic. 😀 ❤

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    • Thanks – your sense of humor is fantastic, so I’m so glad you like it!

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  13. Erma’s my idol so I am in awe! Love the story. I still like pantyhose because of the airbrushing (although I won’t admit it in public). Great story.

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    • Thanks! Yes, I still wear pantyhose. And I love them. They make my legs look better and my shoes hurt less!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes on the shoes thing! The young’uns make fun of me sometimes because NO ONE wears them for shoes.

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  14. Congratulations. I used to read Erma Bombeck’s columns every month in one of my mother’s ‘women’s magazines’ (I can’t remember which one) and I’ve read several of her books over the years. She always made me laugh out loud. She had a wonderful way of capturing the humourous moments in the lives of women. As do you. Great story.

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    • Thanks Margo! She is one of my heroes and writing idols. There is no better feeling than making someone laugh!

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  15. Congratulations and well deserved! Have you tried Spanx? I thought I’d like them but turns out they smooth everything from the girls to just above the knees but leave the rest looking like a lumpy casserole! HA!! MJ

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  16. LindaLuNC

    Congratulations on the Honorable Mention! I am dismayed by the abundance of “naked legs” these days, even women in professional suits have bare legs when wearing heels. Somehow it never sits right with me. I loved my garter belt in the 6th grade. I had hips, even then, and had no trouble keeping mine up! Thanks for another great read!

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  17. Oh lord. You’re right. Pantyhose is wonderful. I can still remember the comments I got when I wrote math problems on the blackboard in 7th grade wearing a minidress and stockings. Many of the boys had never seen a garter belt before that day.

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    • They are probably still jerking off to the memory of you!

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  18. Congratulations on your win! I loved Erma too. Your piece brought back so many memories of hose, girdles, garter belts and panty hose. (I was never skinny!) Today at my age I am grateful for slacks/jeans and for the airbrush (as you put it) of pantyhose with dresses. I am always encouraged when I see a younger woman with pantyhose as I don’t feel like such a little old lady when I wear them. Thanks for the memories!

    Like

    • I know it’s “old lady’ to wear stockings, but I look more like an old lady without them – all those spider veins!

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  19. Nancy Collins

    Great piece! Made me laugh and brought back memories of garter belts and girdles which I’d long forgotten. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I have always worn pantyhose, I still wear them, I wore them last Friday, although I now wear a pair of bike shorts over them because I have fat legs (thighs) and don’t like them to rub together and chaff. I also only wear black pantyhose, or knee highs if I am wearing a long skirt or pants.

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    • I also sometimes where some “Big Girl” panties over my pantyhose…. because I hate when my pantyhose get low in the crotch.

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  21. This is a hoot; you may not have come across this British comedian’s take on tights (as we call ’em) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1W0eblPnDA

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    • Ha! So true. Sometimes I feel like I have to jump on a horse to get them up to my crotch.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hety

        Oh yes, jumping up and down was required! AND pulling them up to your chin…

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Wow! That brought back memories! I’d forgotten about cutting off the bad leg.
    I, too, wear pantyhose; style or not.

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    • I saved the “whole” pair for special occasions. wore the one legged ones all the time!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Congrats! I remember doing an ad-lib presentation in my high school Women in Literature course based on an Erma Bombeck book. My teacher cried with laughter.

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    • She always made me laugh. I remember her telling a story on television about when she was sick (with cancer I think). She had lost of lot of weight. One day she was in church and the lady behind her saw that the tag of her dress was sticking out, so she gently tucked it back in. Erma turned around and said, “I left the tag out on purpose. It’s the first time I’ve ever worn a size 10. I want everyone to know it.” Erma could even make you laugh about cancer.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Congrats, Nancy! Expect editors to reach out to you. It happened to me when I won the EB Human Interest award a few years ago. Glory magazines love short pieces for that coveted last page. Toni

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    • Thanks, Toni. I’d love to write some really short pieces, although I certainly found out that “short” doesn’t mean easy.

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  25. Pam

    Congrats, Nancy! Loved your essay. I was not smart enough to figure out how to wear two sets of pantyhose, but what a great idea! I am eager for pantyhose to come back into fashion. I would have never believed that women would give them up in favor of tanned bare legs. My legs are pasty white and veiny so pantyhose are my friend. You are right. Those metal garter hooks were painful to sit on! And what short skirts we wore with them! Did you ever wear fishnet stockings? They were the rage when I was in 6th-7th grade.

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    • Fishnets! They were so uncomfortable as the netting got imbedded in your legs. The back of your legs ended up looking like a waffle!

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  26. Laughing out loud! I too never quite fit into things when I was in my skinny phase. Congratulations on the honorable mention!!!!

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  27. Wow – this is major. Erma is my idol. Great job and congratulations!

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    • She was the first writer who made me think I could do THAT and people would laugh!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Hety

    Good on you, Nancy! Congrats! You had me laughing out loud and so did all of the wonderful comments. Fishnets… yeah, they really hurt. I was allowed to wear them to church before pantyhose, white. They did end up embedded in my poor legs. This was for Easter and I was allowed to wear perfume – Muguet de Bois by Coty. And the garters… ugh.

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    • Oh My GOD…Muguet de Bois!!!! I wore that! I wonder if it smelled good or terrible? And Wind Song! And Jean Nate!

      Like

  29. Pantihose are great for legs! But they do run all the time – it’s annoying. Are they back in fashion? Now I know, I”m off to the supermarket to buy some!

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    • I thought for a long time that knee high stockings were just for old ladies, but now that I am one, I wear them all the time!

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  30. I am entirely spitting coffee at my screen reading this, very funny. Totally deserving of Honorable Mention, at a minimum. Congratulations.

    My hippie self missed all this. I refused to wear stockings, girdles, pantyhose or any others such nonsense. But now? Spanx all the way.

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  31. Congrats! Erma set the light in the window for so many writers. She was so terrific ( Love that last quote and image – if only people would try to do that. Life would be better)
    ” like wearing my own shadow.” That is so true – baggy knees and all.
    Oh, the memories. Loved this post!

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  32. Loved your post – omg how I remember wearing stockings with suspender belt for the first time (think I am a year older than you) the whole kit and caboodle was presented to me by my mum, obviously as a rite of passage. We went to the theatre, I can’t remember a thing about the play as I was so worried that they would come unclasped and fall down! Then pantyhose came along ( and in South Africa, where I grew up, that was what they were called same as in the US) and it was a blessed relief! And of course I did the two pairs thing when one leg had a run. When I went to Britain in my early 20s, nobody knew what I meant when I asked for pantyhose – they called them ‘tights’ and still do.
    Now I wear knee-highs in winter – under trousers they are comfortable and do the biz. As I now live in China, whenever I am in the west I buy loads of pairs and bring them back with me. Chinese fashions/sizes etc are not my cup of tea.

    Thank you for a wonderful trip down memory lane (my Mum is still alive aged 92, I must ask her if she remembers what that play was in Africa 53yrs ago!).
    What memories you have conjured up for me!

    Like

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