It’s early on Friday evening and I’m sitting at my desk in nothing but my underwear as I look out the patio door and try to figure out what to wear that I won’t freeze, but will be comfortable for the foreseeable hours leading into the early winter morning.  I punch a message into the always open chat window to my best friend’s life 600 miles away:

Here’s how I know I’m not getting laid tonight… I’m wearing matching underwear.

I look back out the large glass window, in which the blinds are never really closed and I routinely walk around in my underwear.  I wonder briefly, albeit ambivalently, if the neighbors have ever complained.  My chat window buzzes.

My son and I are awaiting the start of the new Resident Evil movie.

The seeming disjointedness of the exchange makes me grin out loud.  There was no response I was seeking—and Leah’s come to accept my random snarky thought bursts—but somehow reference to a dystopian remake of Alice in Wonderland seems appropriate.

In my late 20s I was out birthday shopping with a friend when we took a break and decided to check out the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale.  As we poured over the bins, my married friend suggested that I might consider buying something special for my current half-hinged, held together with frayed string relationship. “I do like this,” I picked up a red and gold flecked bra and panty set.

The relationship ended before I even got the set out of the bag.  I never wore it.  A year later, still with the tags on, I contemplated throwing it in the donation pile. Would the donation center accept sexy underwear? Did I want to pass on my bad relationship karma?  It was Ann Arbor, so I sent it off with the best of intentions. I hope it worked out for someone.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing hoping for different results. To that extent, the summation of dating in my 30s was an entire drawer of cute underwear sets I bought after a few weeks of dating someone only to have the relationship end. I always knew when I ventured into the lingerie section of a department store, or a VS, or a Fredericks, that I was either no longer interested in him, or he was no longer interested in me.   Either way, it was usually mutual and my parting gift was usually wrapped in tissue and paid for on a credit card I could barely maintain every month.

Today, I generally dodge the well-meaning sales clerks when they ask me if I’d like the matching… whatever.  “No, I usually only meet someone interesting when I’m mismatched,” has been a standard reply. The look of confusion causes them to walk away.

But sometimes, a tricky saleswoman gets one past me.  She just doesn’t ask and just picks up the offending garment, pointing out how pretty a pair they make.  Surely, I want this matching set. Look at the intricate detail in the lace. And I hand over the pair that have words and fun prints all over them and covet the way the patterns aren’t the same but they match beautifully.

“That guy has been checking you all night,” my friend sitting at the bar next to me nods.

I don’t look up. “I know, but I’m wearing matching underwear.”  I watch the look of confusion sweep over her face. “I only meet decent guys when I’m wearing mismatched.”

She laughs and shakes her head at me and I turn back to the music.

The next day I ask another friend if she knew who he was. “He couldn’t have been checking you out,” she explains, “he’s happily married.”