Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Leopard-print plant hanger

I often receive invitations to those home parties, as they’re called, where the hostess plies you with cookies and punch while you are forced to sit through a demonstration of cleaning products or skin conditioners, and then are expected to drop about $200 on stuff you really don’t want or need.

Usually I just ignore the invitations to these parties because I know that if I call the RSVP number to say I won’t be able to attend, the hostess will talk me into buying something like a case of herbal-milkshake mix or a vacuum cleaner that’s guaranteed to be so powerful, it can suck the wallpaper right off the walls.

I’ll admit that in the past, I was a soft touch…but not any more.

Years ago, when I was a newlywed, whenever someone invited me to a home party, I attended…and I spent way too much money. This resulted in my husband referring to them as “buy-buy” parties.

In just one year, my purchases included such treasures as a thick, gold-plated neck chain that held a giant owl with rhinestone eyes; a copper wall plaque of a sailing ship, dozens of those famous plastic containers that “burp” when you close them, and so many gallons of organic cleaners, I single-handedly could have saved the environment.

And if I gathered all of the makeup I bought at these parties over the years and donated it to the circus, the clowns would be set for life.

There actually is one type of home party I really do enjoy, though, and it’s not because I like the overpriced products. It’s because I like to watch the women buying the overpriced products.

I’m talking about lingerie parties.

These parties usually have cute names like “Purr-fect Panties” or “Seductive Skivvies” and feature games that contain a lot of sexual innuendoes. In other words, the hostess turns her living room into the female equivalent of a male locker room for an evening.

I have been to a couple of these lingerie parties, and both times I was thoroughly entertained. I mean, where else could I see my friend’s mother model a tiger-striped bra, or a former high-school teacher demonstrate the proper way to put on a garter belt?

I remember at one lingerie party, a middle-aged woman of ample proportions held up a pair of sparkly bikini panties that looked as if they’d been made to fit a third-grader. “Look, Gwen!” she gushed. “Aren’t these just adorable? And they’re just my size! Should I buy them?”

Gwen cast her a look that clearly indicated she thought that if her friend actually could, by some miracle, wedge herself into those panties, she’d need the jaws of life to get out of them again, yet she said, “Oh, they are definitely YOU! I think you should buy two pairs!”

Another woman seemed deeply interested in a slinky camisole top that was decorated with a purple feather-boa trim.

“I sure hope your husband’s not ticklish…or allergic to feathers!” I couldn’t help but tease her.

She gave me an icy look. “Why? He’s not the one who’s going to be wearing them…I am!”

One young woman, who said that her husband had lost his job and times were really tough, ordered a sheer black negligee for $55. “This will cheer him up!” she said, smiling.

An older woman snapped at her, “If times are that tough, sweetie, don’t you think that something more practical…like food on the table…might cheer him up more?”

The hostess of the party cast the woman a glare that all but warned her that she was about to be strangled with a fishnet stocking if she didn’t shut up. After all, the hostess didn’t care if the young woman had to eat canned spaghetti for a month, just so long as she did it while wearing a commission-earning $55 negligee.

The way that all of the women, even the one with the unemployed husband, were forking over money for lingerie, you’d think that every manufacturer of intimate apparel was about to go out of business the next day. I actually felt shamed into buying something, too.

I grabbed the order brochure and flipped through it, hoping to find a pair of nice flannel pajamas. When I failed to find anything even remotely close, I searched for the next item on my want-list…anything that was less that $20.

It wasn’t easy, but I finally found a leopard-print thong for $15 that even came in a size big enough to fit my Titanic hips.

It made a great plant hanger.