grandma underwear by ingridf

7 Feb

The first time I met Karen Nichols, she struck me as the kind of woman who ironed her socks or even worse, her underwear. And it would be sturdy underwear; it would be underwear that would make my Polish grandmother proud.

Karen was my brother Hammond’s new girlfriend. Although the word girlfriend feels so inappropriate when describing a woman in her forties who wore orthopedic shoes, buttoned her crisp white cotton shirts so that they looked like they were cutting into her neck, and couldn’t seem to help herself but to organize everything in her proximity. Karen worked in a stationary store where I presumed she lined up pens, paper, erasers and notebooks and stood at the end of aisles while customers stood afraid to touch any of the products.

Our mother reminded me that Hammond hadn’t dated since his divorce and that I should be happy for him.

“She’s like a mother figure, not a new start. I can’t even imagine her touching him. I thought he’d at least have a rebound of one hot little number.” I giggled as I imagined my brother as a player. It was actually inconceivable.

My mother shivered. “Sex is over-rated,” she retorted. I hadn’t actually been thinking about sex and now I shuddered too when I tried to imagine my dear sweet soft teddy bear of a brother cuddling that icy woman who had difficulty with anything but monosyllabic responses. I just felt like he deserved more. The truth was that even if Karen had been considerably younger, I would not have felt differently about her, her hard angles and her organizational skills.

“Be nice to her at dinner,” my mother chastised.

“She’s coming to dinner? Oh mooommmm… ” Since Hammond had re-emerged from the cocoon of his house into the real world, we had finally seen more of him. And I loved it. Every Sunday the three of us would come together, eat dinner, maybe watch some television or play Scrabble. I loved it. It was the one warm haven in my life. And Karen, I imagined, would the the iceburg that would effectively chill our evening and quench our laughter.

“Look,” my mother said, pointing the spatula towards me, “he’s happy. No more scarves, no more tea cozies, kleenex cozies or doilies. We have Hammond back. He’s happier than I ever saw him with what’s-her-face.” (What’s-her-face was the name of Hammond’s ex-wife.)

I sighed heavily. I knew mom was right, I didn’t need any more doilies from Hammond. Maybe I was envious? Maybe I could loosen Karen up with a girls night out? I snorted to myself trying to picture miss priss putting a fiver in a gyrating man’s thong.

Just then I heard a car pull into the driveway and an engine stop. I went to turn on the front porch light and  saw my brother open the door on the passenger side and hold out his hand to the passenger. Karen’s hand rested on his hand, and he pulled her up to him where I saw her wrap her arms around him and then he kissed the top of her head. Her body shape was not rigid but she leaned into him and he grinned down at her. Her face was animated as she said something to him. It was Karen as I had never seen her before. She was… beautiful.

Maybe grandma underwear wasn’t so bad after all…


6 Responses to “grandma underwear by ingridf”

  1. jadamthwaite February 7, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    Ah, I’m glad Hammond got a happy ending! And I really like the idea that we can judge someone one way – and be right – but totally miss a whole other angle on them.

  2. Parenthesized February 11, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Good for Hammond. I like how you show that Karen is multifaceted, that there are two truths at the very least to every person.

  3. juleshg February 11, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    I liked that Karen showed her “softer” side to Karen. Perhaps the rigid exterior is merely shyness. It was also nice to see Hammond find some happiness.

  4. ingridfnl February 13, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    I think we are all many things to different people… and that those things can all be true simultaneously. I guess this belief came out in this story. I wanted sock-ironing Karen to be given a chance… 😉

  5. phoenix.writing February 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    This was lots of fun. Glad to see the re-use of Hammond. (Oh, what’s-her-name, lol.) You painted a lovely picture of a family, and I really enjoyed how Hammond’s sister was so protective of him but willing to give Karen a chance once she saw that other side of her. ^_^


  1. our kind of people by ingridfnl « the character project - March 14, 2010

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