Show Compassion, Not Others’ Panties

Chicago Tribune’s RedEye June 18, 2011

Forget universal health care. Forget gun control. Forget the vast socioeconomic divide ripping the country apart. We have failed as a society when there are young ladies walking around with their skirts tucked into their panties.

Let me tell you a story. On a recent Saturday night, I was standing outside Gorilla Tango Theatre waiting for seating to begin. As waiting around turned into hanging out turned into people watching, I noticed that something had delighted the small crowd gathering on the sidewalk. As the crowd grew, curiosity got the better of me and I strode over to see what everyone was so excited about.

When I peeked inside the door everyone else was watching, I saw it—rather, I saw her. She was a typical, cute Bucktown woman: thick framed glasses, sequined headband holding her hair back, and vintage dress … tucked into the back of her panties. That’s right—there was a full moon over Bucktown.

“Someone should tell her!” I protested to my friends. They giggled and shrugged their shoulders.

Before anyone could take out an iPhone and tweet a picture, I walked back over to the lobby and straight up to the unfortunate woman. I told her she looked beautiful, except for one tiny thing: the accidental tuck. Moving faster than Superman after a handful of methamphetamine, she untucked her skirt and blushed.

“Thanks,” she said, smiling at me.

“No problem,” I answered. “If it were me, I’d want somebody to tell me.”

The Germans have a word for deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others: schadenfreude. I admit I feel a wicked little thrill when I discover the girl who made fun of my bangs in high school works at a call center selling Shake Weights and Snuggies, but there’s that and there’s straight-up cruelty.

Perhaps I’m taking this incident a little too seriously, but it’s only because I have been that girl so many times. We’ve all been Full Moon Over Bucktown at some point in our lives. Who among us hasn’t come back from a date, looked in the mirror and been horrified to see a piece of broccoli wedged between our front teeth? Who hasn’t been chatting up a pretty young thing at the bar only to look down and realize his fly has been wide open for the entire conversation? Who hasn’t been strutting down the sidewalk like it’s a catwalk only to realize, hours later, that she sat in what appears to be melted Slushie?

Let’s make a deal, Chicago. Please, I beg you, do not let me walk down the street with pigeon poop in my hair or a panty-baring rip across the back of my pants. Tell me, even though it might temporarily mortify us both. And, I promise, I’ll do the same for you.

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