by SHELL SHERREE
Sorry for my absence during the festive season. I wish I could say I've been hunkered down in a garret in Paris, writing a smokey novel by day and pickling myself with some French pear cider by night. But there's a difference between poetic license and poetic larceny. The closest I came to that experience was writing inadequate grocery lists on the back of gravy-stained envelopes (don't ask) and sipping a shot glass of Mountain Maid Apple Cider Vinegar as part of my New Year's resolution to restore my digestive system back to its former cast-iron glory.
Before my days descended into a slothful blur of grazing on rumballs and watching test cricket (I blame the latter on my sports nut hubby who has stealthily indoctrinated me over the last ten summers), I undertook my annual pilgrimage with my mum and sister to the Boxing Day sales.
Contrary to the urban myth, Boxing Day is not an homage to Mike Tyson. The fact that it comes just one day after the most verbose family members take up opposing corners of the lounge room and chew each others' ears off is merely a coincidence. As is the occasional display of fisty-cuffs over the last size eight leopard print stiletto.
Actually, Boxing Day traditionally was the day that gifts were boxed up and presented to service people as a sign of gratitude for twelve months of hard work and care. Sadly, if you turned up nowadays at the post office with a large carton and presented it with a smile, wink and, "Here's a little something for you,", you'd probably be tackled to the ground and sat on while sniffer dogs and bomb disposal officers were called in. Ah, good times, good times.
We now have our Boxing Day sale routine down pat, securing early smug car parks and tuning our shopping spark plugs with caffeine before heading into the fray.
Following our Arabica-heightened female intuition, we happened upon a tray of half price cotton knickers.
If you live in the tropics or subtropics and haven't embraced cotton undies, you're on the fast track to embarrassing itches in the Brazilian rainforests. However, it's a challenge finding cotton undies that don't look like something displayed in men's prisons to circumvent the need for cold showers or a hose-down in the yard. There is a mass assumption amongst knicker manufacturers that only chaste girls with no sense of style and no hopes of romance bother wearing cotton. And they design these undergarments accordingly, therefore causing the 'lackanooky-belief' to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Not in this case, though. Here in the midst of a major department store were piles of adorable little breathable treats decorated with all sorts of frills and frippery. I was in comfortably woven Nirvana! So was my sister!
Our mother sighed at how pretty they were and said loudly, "Sometimes I wish I wore underwear."
Lo and behold, this sent the other cotton pickers scattering, proving there is far more than just a quarter metre of fabric's difference between adding a few ruffles and subtracting the undies altogether. We found ourselves alone with the entire tray to browse at leisure. Is there no end to a mother's wisdom ...