22: Underwear Model

22: Underwear Model

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

Underwear Model

There’s power in looking silly and not caring that you do.

~Amy Poehler

I was singing in the choir in our little country church when I saw her. She came in through the double doors at the opposite end of the church. She had been to the restroom and now she was returning and was at the back row, welcoming guests and inviting them to stay for dinner on the grounds. The place was packed like it always was on homecoming Sunday. This was the day when families brought large boxes and baskets full of food to share after the service. We would sit outside at long rows of picnic tables covered with Southern delicacies like chicken and dumplings, banana pudding and the best fried chicken ever! (After all it, was Kentucky.)

As I sang from the stage, I watched her making her way through the crowd, smiling, hugging, and beaming with hospitality. And then about halfway up the aisle she turned her back to me and I stopped singing. In her haste to rejoin the crowd, the hem of my mother’s dress had gotten caught in the elastic waistband of her pantyhose and there was the back of her white underwear for all to see. I knew I had to reach her before she got to the front of the church! But I was a kid, and by the time I got to her, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, let alone speak. Through my pointing and gesturing, she finally realized what I was trying to say, and we headed for the ladies room. I was still guffawing when I saw her face. Tears filled her eyes as she smoothed down the dress in the back. I stopped laughing instantly.

“I am so embarrassed,” she said. “Go back inside and get my purse. I’m going home.”

“What? Home?” Selfishly, my mind raced to the chicken and dumplings and banana pudding to be served at the picnic. I had to talk her out of it.

“You don’t want to do that,” I began. “What about all the food you’ve made? And the guests you’ve invited! Think of them! Besides, they’ve already seen you now, so unless you plan on never coming back…” My voice trailed off and a slight smile crossed her face. She stared into the mirror, wiped her tears and said with resolve, “You’re right. Let’s go!”

I was never more surprised and impressed. At the dinner, a few women came over to laugh at her, and I cringed. But she just waved them away and acted like she couldn’t care less. She finished out that day doing the same things she had done every other year, greeting, serving and welcoming others. It was about them, not her. On that day, I’m sure she never thought about the young daughter that was watching her. That single event would influence my response to teasing, bullying and embarrassing moments for the rest of my life. She probably would never have imagined that her most embarrassing moment would have turned out to be the day I was never more proud.

~Edie Schmidt

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