If Carhartt sold lingerie


Over Christmas, I stayed at my parents’ house for a few days with my sister and her fiancé. Since I hadn’t seen my sister in a year, it was great to catch up with her and have some good sisterly bonding time.

Historically, there haven’t been a lot of topics we can bond over. She takes pains over her appearance; I prefer a style I call Shabby Cheap. She’ll wake up on a Friday, remember she has a marathon that Sunday, and nail it, powered by kale and quinoa; I’d rather puff and pant through three miles and then reward myself with a cinnamon roll.


It’s a beautiful moment, when I see that cinnamon roll. I hear angels singing the Chariots of Fire theme.


But lately, we’ve been finding more things we have in common. For example, buying lingerie. Not for ourselves. Oh gosh. No. Worse: for other people. People we know.

Our friends keep getting married, see, and among the many other arcane rituals of matrimony, there is the traditional Giving of Fancy Underwear. As my sister was in charge of planning a lingerie party over Christmas break, and I was in the throes of selecting some lingerie for another friend, there was a certain amount of underwear-themed hysteria in the house (much to the men’s chagrin).

Because here’s the catch with lingerie shopping: With every other gift you buy in your lifetime, you’re supposed to take great pains with selecting it. You’re meant to wander the aisles at length, considering each option carefully and trying to guess whether the recipient would like it.

But with lingerie, that is patently not the case. Call me a prude, but I don’t particularly enjoy dwelling at length on my friends’ underwear preferences. So do I just go for a style I’d like to wear? What if that’s too racy or too conservative? Which side is better to err on?



One of these days I’m going to show up with a pile of bedsheets and be like, “What? ‘Lingerie’ is French for ‘linen’.”


Fortunately, my father was able to keep a sense of humour throughout this process. Some of his remarks made me realize how unbalanced the lingerie market is. Why do Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood get all the fun? Carhartt should get in on this — there’s a real niche for fireproof lingerie, I’m sure. And what about Nike? No-nonsense, no frills, aerodynamic. You could pick up some Hollister selections if you didn’t mind not seeing what you were buying before you took it home, or a 48-pack of thongs from Costco if you were feeling cost-efficient. And really, what woman wouldn’t line up for four hours to get their hands on the sleek silhouette of an Apple babydoll?

I just picked up my selection today, from Target. I was squirming a bit at first, but then I told myself, “This friendship is worth the awkwardness, so woman up and get in there,” and then there turned out to be a sale, which I always enjoy. By the time I was finished, I was able to walk right up to the male cashier and put the heap of lacy underwear on the counter without a qualm.

That’s the power of lingerie, I’m thinking: confidence, poise, the realization that you’re stronger than you think and bigger than your circumstances. Maybe there’s a little of the Carhartt spirit there after all.


Photo credits: Coats by jarmoluk, runner by skeeze, linen by stevepb on Pixabay.


Lies I have told strangers on the Internet

As I have mentioned several times, I recently moved. But before moving, there was the small matter of finding a new place to live — which, on my budget, meant finding new people with whom to live.

They look delightful. This could work.

They look delightful. This could work.

My primary resource was Craigslist, where the ads ranged from the unhelpfully vague (“Room available, call xxx-xxxx”) to the weirdly specific (“Looking for paleo Aries to help raise pygmy goats, troubleshoot Ruby on Rails, and occasionally cuddle”). Once in a while, though, I would come across a post that seemed promising, and fire off an email introducing myself.

(Fun fact: I got more responses when I didn’t mention my field of study.)

In these interactions, there’s bound to be a little harmless truth-omitting. The person advertising the apartment will play up the patio and private bathroom, but they probably won’t highlight the partying neighbours. They’ll warn you about their four dogs, but they might not mention their 4 a.m. shift at work. And really, why should they? That’s the kind of information that is best revealed once you’ve moved past the “casual Internet stranger asking if the room is still available” stage and into the “we might actually be living together; let’s make sure we both know what we’re getting into” stage.

"Oh, that's what you meant by 'unfinished'."

“So that’s what you meant by ‘unfurnished’.”

And of course, in my email introductions, I coloured a few truths myself. Below are some of my oft-repeated lines, along with what might have been closer to the truth.

  • “I’m pretty chill.”
    • Translation: “I have a ton of pet peeves, but I feel it’s polite to inform you of only two. The others will become clear through a series of passive-aggressive sticky notes utilizing my yearly quota of smiley faces.”
  • “I love cats. Yours look really cute!”
    • Translation: “I’m a fan of cats in theory, but I feel that actually living with some might cure me of that. To be fair, though, they probably feel the same way about humans.”
  • “I like dogs — yours looks super friendly.”
    • Translation: “I am willing to interview canine applicants for the position of running buddy. I draw the line at food-stealing, shoe-gnawing, muddy paw prints, messy front yards, hair-shedding, the smell of wet fur, and generally everything that makes a dog a dog.”


  • “I’m a pretty clean person …”
    • Translation: “I once proposed a strict three-sponge system in the kitchen, in which sponges were designated for use on dishes, counters and appliances, and the floor by a Roman numeral inscribed in Sharpie, starting with ‘I’ for the dishes, which could then be easily changed to ‘II’ and then ‘III’ as the sponge got rattier and was better suited to less hygienic tasks.”
  • “… but I do sometimes have a tendency to leave my books and things around the house.”
    • Translation: “I have turned the corner of the living room into my personal office, complete with a post-modernist collage of bobby pins, old receipts, Latin homework, Nyquil, and Ikea mailers.”
"CLEAN? I do not CLEAN."

“Throw away WHAT?”

  • “As you requested in your ad, I am a Christian, but you should probably know that I’m pretty liberal politically.”
  • “I’m a bit of an introvert.”
    • Translation: “During the weekends of one summer in college, I sometimes scheduled time to step onto the porch for a few seconds. That way, when my sister asked me, ‘Did you leave the house today?’, I could truthfully reply that I had.”

Fortunately, all truth-omitting aside, I wound up finding what seems to be a great situation for all parties. My new roommate brings home a lot of organic produce to share; I’m happy to share my baked goods in return; and the resident cats and I get along famously.

Of course, I haven’t started singing in the shower yet, so that balance of happiness could change. I’ll keep you posted.


Photo credits: VW bus from PublicDomainPictures, tunnel from hattex, dog from Mehihe, and possum from royguisinger on Pixabay.

Eight ways to make apartment showings more fun

We all have our pockets of high-maintenance needs.  Maybe you’re chill with anything a waiter brings you, but it drives you nuts when other drivers don’t use their turn signals. Maybe you brush it off when your roommate leaves dishes in the sink for a week, but the vending machine at work absolutely must have diet cream soda or your entire day goes down the drain.

These triggers are a weird little part of life. I call them the Red Buttons of Existence. I have several — people spitting mouthwash on bus seats, for example — and this weekend, I gained one more: apartment showings. As I’m moving out at the end of the month, my landlord has been in the throes of finding new tenants, which apparently involves turning my home into a public area multiple times a week.


“All right, everyone, are we ready to move on to the kitchen now?”

When the first showing rolled around, I didn’t think it would be that bad. I’d made plans to be away anyway. Then the landlord’s representative showed up half an hour early, walked in without knocking, announced that he was there to see if the place was clean enough, looked around critically, and said, “Well … I guess it’s good enough.”

Gentlemen, I know you might have questions about how women’s minds work. We’re all different, but here’s a good rule of thumb: Never walk into a woman’s house uninvited, inspect her housekeeping, and say, “Well … I guess it’s good enough.” No. Never. It took a good two hours, three cups of tea, and a piece of lemon shortbread before I stopped contemplating a particular use of my right knee — an action that would not be ideal for the task at hand, but would, in a pinch, be “good enough.”

"Clear blue ocean ... clear blue ocean ..."

“Clear blue ocean … clear blue ocean …”

Since then, I’ve grown to have a bit of sympathy for the people making the rounds of various apartments. All of those white walls and balconies and parking garages must blur together after a while, and I wouldn’t be doing my duty as a fellow renter if I didn’t try to help out these poor people a bit and make my apartment a bit more memorable. Here are eight ideas I’ve had to snag visitors’ interest. That’s what landlords want, right?

  1. Place all living and dining room furniture in the bedrooms. Transform the dining and living rooms into bedrooms.
  2. Chop a lot of Bing cherries in the kitchen. Put the cherries in the fridge, but don’t clean up the juice or put away the knife. (Bonus points if you let the juice splash down over the cabinets and onto the floor.)
  3. Invite a local bagpiper to practice in your living room during showings. Offer visitors homemade haggis.
  4. When visitors arrive, open the door only partway and eye them suspiciously. Ask the following questions: “Have you come to see the apartment?”, “Is there to be a full moon tonight?”, and “Does the emperor sleep in an iron bed?” When visitors have finished answering, nod somberly, hand them a briefcase, and shut the door.
  5. Turn all clocks to face the wall (or, if budget allows, smash in the clock faces). Remove all light bulbs and doorknobs. Write “THEY COME” on the mirrors in lipstick.
  6. Hang black curtains over the windows and throw black sheets over the furniture. Dress in black and greet visitors at the door by saying “Thank you for meeting me here today” in sepulchral tones. Guide them into the living room, where you have arranged thirteen lit candles in a circle. Address visitors as Benjamin Franklin, Marie Curie, and Tsar Nicholas II. Grill them thoroughly about their respective histories.
  7. Rebrand your apartment as Professor Heschl von Lipwig’s Traveling Flea Circus. Set up exhibits throughout the apartment, sell popcorn and cotton candy from the kitchen, and charge admission. Explain in a heavy German accent that the circus is a permanent fixture of the apartment. Frame your explanation as though the landlord offers in-house circuses as a perk, like free parking or on-site composting.
  8. Arrange a half-eaten meal on the table. Crumple some clothes in the chair as though they’ve just been taken off. Add an open Bible with Matthew 24:36–44 highlighted.


Any other ideas out there? Conversely, what’s your most memorable apartment-visiting experience?


Photo credits: Tourists by Hans; ocean by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay. Also, shout-out to the fantastic web series The Guild for the “clear blue ocean” line. If you haven’t watched it yet, series 1 starts here.