I had to dress up for an event today, and the necessity of doing it all the way was impressed upon me by a superior, so I did. This meant donning pantyhose.

Normally, I don't wear nylons. I hate them. They're constricting and they feel icky against the fingers. They get runs in them far too easily and the size listed on the back of the package never seems to accomodate for those same dimensions in real space and time. Reinforced toes in open-toed shoes look hideous, but without the reinforced toe you may as well stab holes through them before you get them on. I'm not a big girl, but they always seem to cut in at my waist, cutting my midsection into two firmly encased bulges.

To state the obvious, I wore nylons today. I'm still wearing them. The resulting bulge they force below my bellybutton bears a strong resemblance to my mother's bun dough rising under a tea towel.

Prior to the second world war, stockings were often made of silk, although man-made fibres at half the price had been gradually taking over the North American Market since the early 1900s. Silk stockings are much sexier than the much diminished versions worn by most people today. Silk feels soft and falls demurely through the fingers. It is strong and was once a sign of affluence and good taste. Hearkening from the Orient, silk was thought to be foreign, and therefore sensual. During the war, silk was high in demand, and stockings of any kind were hard to come by, so leg make-up filled the void. People would apply flesh-toned make-up to their calves and then draw a dark line up the backs of their legs to mimic the line of stitching that ran up the backs of stockings at the time.

I have to stop with the historical sideline here and pause for a moment. What is this obsession with covering up women's legs? I understand cultural expectations of modesty, but when our culture deemed it acceptable to show legs from the lower thigh down, why did we continue to seek sheerer and more barely-there leg coverings that would leave our legs looking as naked as possible without actually being naked? It's a little weird. It's a lot obsessive. Why must the pieces of ourselves outside our clothing that we aim to highlight be covered up at the same time? Our legs are encased in hosiery, our eyelashes in mascara, our fingernails in polish. Female beauty has a long history of being obscured by the very things that are purported to augment it. It's schizophrenic.

My mother would tell me about this history of stockings to explain to me why ladies wore them when we went to church, which laid out the irrational rule that I was to do likewise. When I was little, my parents would help me struggle into white tights, but when I graduated to nylons at puberty, the job was mine alone to learn the shimmy and shake and gyrations involved in pulling on a pair of pantyhose without putting a thumb through them on the first go. There were many Sundays that I tried to get out of the house without them, but my mother would always notice and send me back to my room to put them on. You'd lose your head if it wasn't screwed on so tight.

Nylons felt sticky in summer and papery dry in winter. Either too short or baggy in the knees, they seemed to be made for another body, not mine, the one that was in them because the package advised to wear this size according to height and weight. This was one of my earliest introductory lessons about the irregularity of my body. I would sit through sermons in church on a plump-seated burgundy pew, shifting and twisting this way and that way, hoping that by putting weight on one thigh while pulling my hips to the right and partially extending a leg I would be able to adjust the nylons discreetly without actually grabbing a hold of them through my dress and giving them a good yank. This activity was not nearly so discreet as I had hoped and illicited a hushed sit like a lady from my mother.

Once, in a fit of anger at being forced into such an unnecessary contrivance, I excused myself part way through the church service. I let myself into the car in the parking lot, hauled my stockings down, braced my twelve-year-old feet against the dashboard, and masturbated in broad daylight during church in my parents' car in GOD'S PARKING LOT. I figured that God made all my parts to do what they do, so he wouldn't care that I did it, but everyone else, that universal Everyone of my youth that was responsible for whatever conventions I felt forced into, this was for them. Take that, fuckers.

As an adult, I continue to make strains to avoid nylons while still appearing acceptably officey, but on occasions such as today's, I purse my lips for a moment before digging through the grocery bag of pantyhose to find a workable pair. This morning's dig had me putting on four pairs before finding ones that were the right colour and did not have runs, snags, stains, and/or coloured nailpolish stopping runs below my skirt's hemline (I never seem to have clear nailpolish around). And what exactly was all that 7:15 am stress for? Twenty minutes standing at a press conference and more than seven hours and forty minutes of lesser bondage at my desk while the top band of the hose curled itself into an ever tightening roll around my middle.

In case you are wondering, although bondage can be all kinds of fun, I am not a pantyhose fetishist, and accidental bondage leads more to claustrophobia than any sense of sexual fulfillment.

Before I go, and since I have no tidy conclusion with which to wrap this up, I would like to leave you with this thought: what happens if you are caught in a fire while wearing pantyhose? I'm sure these suckers would just meld right into your skin provided there was enough heat. Heck, it could be that skin/nylon melding will be the new tattoo of the professional world. All of us office-working women would never have to purchase another over-priced, low quality pair of these sausage casings again.

Now quick, give me ten great uses for crappy old nylons, stat! I have a grocery bag full of them according to this morning's inventory.

Read "Of Two Minds" by Jim Holt.

You need new fat to chase out the old fat.

I'm liking the synonym/antonym finder.