I admit I was at first seduced by the language on the pink mailer. Everyone likes free shit, right? Especially underwear. I hate paying for things that are so essential, like toilet paper and tampons. Or do I just hate paying for things that have to do with my ass?
I hesitated with my hand over the trashcan, the Victoria's Secret coupon dangling, ready to drop amongst the egg shells and dirty paper towels. Should I go get my free panties? I was going to be at the mall later, because we were getting my tires rotated across the street. Going to Victoria's Secret wasn't the problem, as we would surely pass it by once or twice during our excursion. The thing was-how totally poor and cheap would I feel exchanging that coupon for some underpants?
I know why they send out coupons like that-so you'll go to get your free whatever, and buy something else while you're there (there was also an offer on the same coupon for $10 off some bra I can't have because it doesn't include those convenient flaps that come down and expose your boobies so some child can suckle them). I knew I would be making no other purchase-did I have the shame to go into that snooty store and say, HEY! Give me some free PANTIES!
I decided that I was more thrifty than prideful, so the coupon went into my purse.
"HIIIII can I help you today?" The perky salesgirl asked as my husband tried to maneuver the stroller around those annoying displays that are never quite big enough for strollers to get around and I fingered some cute boy shorts at the front.
Say you're just looking! You're JUST LOOKING! My inner ego screeched. Don't let her know you're only here for the free swag! She'll look down on yoooou!
Just admit you're here for the freebie, countered my inner whoever is concerned with not spending all day in a panty store. Must be my inner husband. Oh wait, that actually was my husband, hissing to me as the baby pulled some kind of Santa-inspired lingerie monstrosity off of a mannequin.
"Um, yeah, uh, I just wanted to get the free panty?" (I hate that my statements always become questions when I'm embarrassed.)
"They're back there on those three round tables. There are people back there to help you. Also, the Pink panties are five for $25.00 right now!" Like they aren't 5 for $25.00 any other day. Like I'm actually going to be purchasing anything today.
So we make our way back to the three round tables about as gracefully as a herd of learning disabled monkeys, knocking panties off of tables, bras off of shelves, and leaving a trail of general disarray wherever we go. You know how I roll.
"The free panties are only in neutral colors, black, light gray, tan, or white," the sales girl tells me, removing every color choice that was somewhat appealing to me.
Fine, I'll get some black ones. Large and extra small only. Great. Ok, this is embarrassing enough, just grab some and GO! Ego says. At first I think it is husband goading me along, but he's found some sort of lacy thing to stare at. Great. He's occupied.
So I take my grey (yeah, I settled) panties up to the register and hand them over with the coupon.
"It's only the light grey that are free."
Jesus. Could this get any more embarrassing? I'm cheap, yeah, I'm here for the freebie, and apparently I'm trying to live above my means.
So I go back to the round tables. I pick up the light grey.
"Those aren't the free ones," a salesgirl tells me.
"These are lighter grey than those," I snip, then shut my mouth, realizing I'm arguing color semantics with a panty pusher at Victoria's Secret.
"No, it's these grey ones," and she holds up the ugliest pair of panties I'd ever seen. The ones I'd chosen first were a nice coal grey; the next ones I liked were a lighter shade of the same color; these were like dirty white poo-poo grey.
Finally I ended up with a white thong. Newsflash! The panties they give away are thinner and flimsier than the ones they sell. Was it worth it? Eh. I guess. I mean, I got the free undies, but not without an ordeal. And they're kinda crappy. So I guess you could say you get what you pay for. And there's no such thing as a free lunch, er, pair of panties. Because the receipt may say "no charge," but I sure spent a lot of my pride on them.