Barbarella
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Brevity is the soul of lingerie. — Dorothy Parker

Most of the “lingerie parties” I’ve attended have featured women arriving in their finest lace or leather thongs and teddies. But the invitation on my desk was from my conservative sister Heather, and this wasn’t really a lingerie party — this was a bridal shower with a lingerie theme. We were to bring for the bride, not wear on our bodies, the salacious undergarments.

Whether bridal or baby, most shower invitations addressed to me are treated like used Q-tips — briefly inspected, deemed a bit gross, and tossed away. Such affairs lack a certain appeal for one who prefers to be the center of attention. Despite my usual aversion, however, I was looking forward to attending this particular panty party, as my sister Jenny is no run-of-the-mill bride-to-be.

Mom offered her home, Jane arranged the flowers, I engineered the gourmet cheese spread, Jenny’s friend Rosie played bartender, and Heather — maid of honor and shower virtuoso — attended to shower details such as decorations, games, prizes, and favors. Among the guests of female family members and friends were a few of Jenny’s future in-laws, including Candie, the groom’s mother. As this was the first time the mothers of the bride and groom had met, the initial mood was reserved and polite.

As I understand it, the goal of any bridal shower is to run the future bride through a gauntlet of sentimentality and embarrassment. The first part was handled by Heather, who had pasted love poems to the mirrored wall in Mom’s foyer. She followed that up with a game in which she gave everyone a list of amorous quotations and asked them to name the romantic film from which the quotes were obtained. As for the rest of us, all one had to do was mention Brad, the groom, and Jenny’s face would soften in that sappy, lovesick way.

Making Jenny feel sentimental was a piece o’ wedding cake, but it was not nearly as fun as stoking that other emotion; once we began to torture and tease her, the façade of reserved politeness deteriorated into a delightfully informal crudeness.

Making the bride blush is an ancient tradition harkening back to a time when brides were still virgins who required enlightenment in regard to the dark and mysterious goings-on of the postnuptial bedchamber. In modern times, sex (and, if a couple is clever, living together) is more common than not, so instead of teaching a bride something she should already know prior to walking down the aisle — such as how to navigate her man’s body — we make bawdy references to her private sex life and try to disconcert her with humiliating gifts. Of course, the gag gifts (like penis-shaped pasta called “mac-a-weenie and cheese” or hooker-style garments) are merely entertaining precursors to the real gifts — provocative lingerie.

Heather had told me earlier in the day that a sexually themed party was a way of “celebrating the intimacy” of the soon-to-be newlyweds. Whereas Jane, our eldest sister and expert antagonist, believes it’s part of a hazing ritual all brides must go through before entering the “married women’s club” and that the real reason we torture the guest of honor is because “it’s fun to watch her squirm.” In my case, it’s a good thing I chose to elope. I’m more of a “shocker” than a “shockee,” and I’m sure that my lack of suffering would have disappointed the girls.

My family is so accustomed to my antics that there was great concern as to what my gag gift would be. While Mom and I were having tea a few weeks before the party, I decided to flex my sadistic muscles.

“So, I figured out what I’m going to get Jenny,” I said, and casually sipped. Mom’s face lit up with expectation. I took a moment to savor her ingenuousness.

“Well?” Mom asked. “What is it?”

“I’m going to give her a big strap-on,” I said, relishing that confused look on her face.

“What for?”

I couldn’t repress my smile. This was going to be good. “You know, for Jenny to wear.” I could see by Mom’s furrowed brow that she still didn’t get it. I deliberately refrained from spelling it out so that I could continue to watch her struggle to comprehend the words. The look on her face when realization struck was worth the wait.

“Barb, no!”

“Come on, Mom, you don’t really think I’d do that. Do you?” I said with a smile that also said, then again, you never know.

During the week preceding the party, I continued making references to my gift, using words like latex, funnel, and ball-gag. “Brad’s a cop, so I’m pretty sure they’ve got the handcuffs covered,” I quipped to Jane. By the day of the event, I was satisfied that I had sufficiently terrified my family members.

The gifts were saved for last, ensuring that everyone had been loosened up with alcohol and was offered the chance to bond over games. As Jenny opened her presents, I noted some of her verbal reactions to her bounty. Seeing the pad of paper on my lap, Jenny said, “I know this game. Nothing is coming out of my mouth,” which I immediately jotted down.

Along with some crotchless panties, Jane gave condoms and a pregnancy test. Both Heather and Jane gifted Jenny with a “honeymoon kit” that included edible powder and scented oil. Most packages included negligees so scant they were more like suggestions of lingerie. Candie, uncomfortable with the idea of selecting bedroom clothing for her future daughter-in-law, took a classier route by giving Jenny a gift card to a local spa.

My gift was one of the last. After reading my card, Jenny looked up to catch my eye. In a half whisper only my mother and I could hear, she said, “Is it okay to open?” Her eyes darted quickly over to Brad’s mother, sister, and step-grandmother, then back to me, where they narrowed in trepidation. I gestured for her to go ahead, and as Jenny shrugged and tore into the wrapping paper, I sensed my mother tensing beside me. “Wow, this is just a very awesome...thing,” Jenny said as she made her way through the paper to find a box for a 250GB external hard drive. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

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Comments

mama_luvs_2_cook June 27, 2008 @ 10:13 a.m.

I just wanted to give my best wishes to your sis and Brad. I went to high school ( in Poway) with Brad - he was always such a great guy! I hope they are very happy together!

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jim87vette June 27, 2008 @ 11:45 a.m.

A panty party cool concept never been to one lol.My wife and I did the same as you and David took the elope route.Oh congrats to your Sis.I can't stop thinking about being in a semi heated moment and removing my wifes panties and saying "wow these are real sexy honey".And then when I get this answer "your Mother bought them for me"EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW make them go away lmao!

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Barbarella Fokos June 27, 2008 @ 12:53 p.m.

I will be sure to pass those best wishes along, Mama! Brad IS a great guy, and I count myself fortunate to have him as a brother-in-law.

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Barbarella Fokos June 27, 2008 @ 12:55 p.m.

Haha, Jim! So true, which is why I think Candie made the right decision. Four years ago, the year David first spent Christmas with my family, my mother gifted me with some panties that said "diva" across the butt. Needless to say, I never wore them, but the thought was appreciated. ;)

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Barbarella Fokos June 28, 2008 @ 9:06 a.m.

Nina, that sounds skanktastic. I agree that there's a time and place, not to mention an appropriate audience, for the nastier, more graphic antics that befall the bride-to-be.

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NinaNaNaNa June 27, 2008 @ 2:36 p.m.

You had a better experience than I did.

I recently attended my cousin's finace's bridal shower and I knew she was a skank so why I had expected her friends to be anything otherwise is beyond me.

My poor grandmothers were horrified as she opened one prostitute-status lingerie set after another. Not one of them was clever enough to disguise each bag's contents with a pretty 'bridal shower' giftbag either - they were all covered with naked men and one even had all shapes, sizes, and colored d***s all over the bag.

How she could even bare to open the sex toys, videos and everything else in front of GRANDMA's is beyond me. I'm all for fun but this crossed the line. They are my grandma's, you know!?

Needless to say, my grandmothers felt out of place and underappreciated with their presents: his and hers sets of towels & robes and a new stoneware set. I even felt out of place with my wedding scrapbook and scrapbooking kit. (I'm such a grandma apparently!)

The skank is going on her bachelorette party this weekend - what else is there left for her best friends to get her? I'm not sure why she even bothered registering at Bed Bath & Beyond.

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pete78 June 27, 2008 @ 6:35 p.m.

Hey Barb...I hear that if you dig in the dumpster behind F Street downtown you can find all sorts of free sex toys. I call it "dipping in the D-Mart at F Street." Ollie could probably help you out. But remember not to take anything that is sticky.

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Barbarella Fokos June 28, 2008 @ 9:07 a.m.

Pete, not a bad idea. I'll make sure Ollie brings those latex gloves he should have used the first time. ;)

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