Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Appropriate Time for Sexy Lingerie

A couple days ago, I felt like a voyeur in an alien, sexy world.

Nothing inappropriate happened, mind you, just something for which I was unprepared. I was invited to a bridal shower for Laura, a young woman I've been honored to know since she was pre-pubescent. Her parents and my husband and I are simpatico, and our children clicked with each other from the time we met them eleven years ago. The girls were innocent and happy, enjoying dolls and games and toys. The two boys, four years apart, were like big-and-little brothers, my son looking up to the other kid as a mentor on coolness.

Our families were very close, though in one important area we differed: Our friends are committed, fervent Christians; we are serious, observant Jews.

That wasn't enough to divide us, however, as our friends were extremely respectful and accommodating. They joined us in our home for Shabbat so often they memorized the "bentching," the grace after meals. They were cognizant of Shabbat rules, stepping in as "Shabbos goyim" without being asked (it was for their benefit, too). They were conscious of kashrut, and though mostly they were our guests, when we went to their home, they provided food they procured from the kosher market, cooked in specially-purchased pans.

In more recent years, with the children teens and in college, they became wrapped up in their church activities and cohort, and we saw each other
far less. Our eldest daughter, after seminary in Jerusalem, became uncomfortable around them, knowing their beliefs (and, though they didn't talk about it, that they even spoke in tongues). Our middle daughter got caught up in her high school, and then college crowd, which didn't overlap with our friends'. And our son's "mentor" got his driver's license, his own place, a job, went to college and joined a band.

To me, the loss of our closeness was sad, but then again, all moms learn how sad it is when your home empties out as the kids grow up, and things just can't be the same.

And then Laura got engaged to Ben. Her whole family was thrilled, and we knew Ben must be as devout and wonderful as Laura. In their religious world, young couples were as "shomer negia" as the most Orthodox Jews. Laura had pledged many years before to save her sexuality until after marriage; she and her intended touched hands for the first time after their betrothal--which occurred
only after Ben had obtained the blessing of Laura's dad.

And so, I was invited to Laura's bridal shower, a celebration of this most pristine and pure of relationships, soon to be officially sanctified. The shower was at the home of a dear, close mutual Jewish friend, who had shared Laura's and my children's development as she, herself, matured, met her own b'shert, married and had children.

When I entered the familiar home, I recognized no one but the hostess, Laura and her mom. Animated chatter of about twenty-five young women, who to me looked far too young to be brides, arose from the cordial group, seated around the perimeter of the living room, paper plates of Italian food balanced on their laps. Everyone was dressed casually, in jeans, capris, t-shirts. The hostess and I were the only ones in skirts and fancier clothes.

Friends of the bride had prepared some games--such as memorizing the contents of a table-full of Laura's stuff (including a Bible, cell phone, high heels, stethoscope, as she's training to be a nurse, toothbrush and an item I didn't know and would not have chosen to display--a "pimple popper" that the aspiring Florence Nightingale uses on her beloved. Ouch.) The bride and groom were asked Newlywed Game questions about the other; Ben's pre-recorded responses were played at appropriate moments on a laptop. A festive polka-dot ice cream cake was served, the hostess provided moving D'vrai Torah--and then came the gifts.

Mine was opened first--household items I'd picked out. Graciously received. And then came my surprise.

It had been assumed that all the gifts would be lingerie. None of the bridal showers I attended in the Jewish world were undergirded in that presumption. But this is what the girls in that polite, well-churched circle do.

One after the other, Laura cooed at the contents of gift bags--a parade of Victoria's Secret-type push-up and bare-it satiny and silky and even leopard-print baby-dolls, bustiers, teddies and thongs. Merry widows, garter-slips and the black stockings to match. Slinky camisoles and teddies and lace panties. Black with shocking-pink trim. Black with peek-a-boo cut-outs. See-through and underwire and halter.

Even Laura's mom presented her with a see-through ivory baby-doll, with matching see-through ivory slit-arm flowy "jacket." It couldn't have been in case she gets cold.

I was amused. Admittedly a little embarrassed, because my table runners and
platter just weren't the right gift, far from it. But the invitation didn't say "lingerie shower," but "bridal shower." Bridal must mean "finally I have someone to be sexy for."

The good news is that Laura will never,
ever, have to buy another baby-doll push-up again. And she has enough thong underwear to last a good, long time.

The shower was a festive event for a delightful girl, and I left with a glimpse into a different world. And that in itself was worthwhile. Congratulations on your marriage, Laura and Ben, and I hope you enjoy each and every gift you received!


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