When your underwear drawer opens and closes more than your legs,
you know you're in trouble.

my underwear drawer is disorganized. I had been unable to face it since my last date, when I pulled on those fetching red panties as a paean to pre-coital provocation and newfound sexual voracity. Also, they were the last clean pair.

Now, none of my junkie friends would have had a clean pair left, let alone a clean, red-satin pair sure to turn the tides of desire in my direction so that their salty waves washed all over me and tore me away from the solid, sandy shore of my emotionality and bipolar solitude.

Sheila, a SoHo original with purple eyes quivering like poisoned grape Jell-O, didn't have time for such things. Sheila was a wild one, and she had splintered her veins and popped green and red and blue pills with the best of them, with pale, fluttering hands like Gwyneth Paltrow on ecstasy, and a sordid, squinting focus on the clock like time would just keep on running far, far ahead of her. She was always Too Late.

I don't think Sheila even had a chest of drawers, let alone drawers dedicated to different categories of clothing. Besides, her bleary, blissful gazes kept her free from a world where phone bills and magazine subscriptions and girls like me, on their way somewhere else, somewhere more important, mattered. Underwear didn't matter either. Sheila didn't wear underwear. Kind of a junkie thing. She didn't give a shit.

Sometimes I'd find myself admiring Sheila, in all her bruised, black-eyeliner-stained glory. I thought of her again yesterday, when I was fumbling through panties that I selected and purchased and soiled back when I was a perky teenager - in a bad way - and my missing those years and longing for them reached such a heart-searing intensity that my brain was literally severed into two distinct pieces.

I believe it was Martin Amis, or maybe Martin Lawrence, who said, "Have you noticed, you guys, the way black or blue or red underpants stay clean for days on end, whereas white underpants - what is it with white underpants? They barely last an hour." This became clear to me after my last date, from which I have just returned. So much of the whole experience was too thickly suburban to understand - like seeing Ronald McDonald at a Chili's and asking him to sign your high school yearbook which you carry with you everywhere. My white panties were a mess.

"Underwear is Sanity," my mother said. "A way to take on different personae without seeming crazy." It's true: Underwear to Evoke Purity. Underwear to Evoke Sultry Heathen. Man Removes Red Satin Panties in Act of Toxically Fortified Lust. Sanity, I guess. Fantasy, really. The difference between Sanity and Fantasy being that Fantasy will lead you far away from Sanity until it is way, way Too Late. Sheila was always Too Late.

But then the contract from Salmon arrives in the mail, and it's all worth it. You just have to say, "Alright, Fantasy - you win!" And out comes the black lace and the booze and the frenzied thrusts. And it's something else, too, some different vibration of serious lust too strange and low and deep to be understood by the genitals.

And then you say, "My sock drawer can wait a little longer. Fuck it."
April 1, 1997

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