“What’s the matter?” I asked my mom. Her head was in her hands at the dinner table, and she was shaking slightly.
She looked up at her family seated around her and tried to speak, but couldn’t.
“Oh my gosh, what happened?” my sister, Erin, persisted.
Then my mom turned red with laughter. She could barely breathe. She did the thing where you try to start a sentence but become engulfed in your own hilarity and can’t continue. At least she wasn’t crying, like we originally thought, but now we wanted in on the joke. Laughter like that deserves company.
“As we were just talking, just now, I thought I had dropped my napkin under the table because I felt cloth at my feet,” she explained. “Then I looked under the table…”
Gone. She had no words, she was laughing so hard. “Abby…just look under the table.”
I was seated next to her so I pulled the tablecloth to the side so I could see what she was pointing to.
Under the table was a pair of men’s tighty whities. Yes, underwear. And then I was gone.
I started laughing and yelling, “It’s tighty whities! It’s tighty whities!” which lead to Sam, Erin, my dad, and Mike losing it entirely.
“WHAT?!” they yelled at once.
“I was PLAYING FOOTSIE WITH THE TIGHTY WHITIES!” my mom hollered in-between laughs.
It’s important to note that we were not at Denny’s, or The Olive Garden. We were on a cruise ship, in a fancy dining room. Or, I suppose, what should be a fancy enough dining room not to have intimates littered on the floor.
What do you think my mature, composed self did at that moment? I scooped them with my foot and flung them under the table at Erin, of course. She felt it hit her leg and the look on her face was priceless. In case you didn’t know, Erin despises all talk or reference to potty humor, bodily functions, or human anatomy. So having a stranger’s pair of panties touch her leg was, let’s say, distressing.
But it was classic free entertainment for the rest of us. Aren’t we a sensitive bunch?
When we had some semblance of control over ourselves, we started asking the obvious. How had said underpants arrived under our table? To whom did they belong? Did he miss his shorties?
Dad said they were probably in the laundry with the tablecloth and that’s how they were mistakenly put under our table. But that lead to the awkward conclusion that the cruise staff was washing our table linens with soiled underwear. Ew.
So we decided instead that someone at dinner had felt constricted by his undergarments (they WERE tight, after all) and chose to shimmy them out of his pant leg and leave them concealed under the table.
Either way, what were we supposed to do with them now?
This created a rousing game of “You tell her!” about telling our waitress the situation.
“No, it’s humiliating, I’m not doing it, YOU tell her!” we argued. After all, we knew no one in the family was going to touch the tighty whities. Well, except for my mom, who had unknowingly already played footsie with them.
Just then our waitress walked by and I raised my hand to get her attention because I still couldn’t speak without laughing. She hurried over, totally serious, apparently not noticing that we were in hysterics.
“We just want to show you something,” I said to her, beaming. “Look under the table near Erin.”
She looked incredibly bewildered, and kept saying “What? What is it?” in her Romanian accent. I had a moment of compassion as I realized she was probably going to feel incredibly awkward when she saw what we were referring to.
I was right.
She turned scarlet, put her hands to her face, and looked around at us like, “This is mortifying and I just realized I don’t get paid enough to deal with this sort of nonsense.” But she still dealt with the nonsense quite well.
She swiped them out from under the table, and when she realized we were not angry but highly amused, she cracked a smile too. Then she giggled as she ran away, whisking herself through the spinning kitchen door to dispose of (or show coworkers) the men’s drawers.
They were never to be seen again, but clearly never to be forgotten.