If only…. If only the words flowed, glided as easily as fingers on satin — feeling, ferreting, exploring the contents of the slightly ajar drawer of the lingerie chest. But to talk about a “mere” piece of furniture is to describe it, primarily in visual terms or its functionality. What does it look like? What’s its purpose? Those are masculine questions. They only hint at the raison d’etre of a lingerie chest…and the intimate secrets within.
I had to own one! Not just any new, mass-produced reproduction, but the genuine article. Real wood with beveled edges and tongue-and-groove joints. Not fiberboard affixed with machine-driven staples. Real craftsmanship, wherein the individual artisan envisioned (perhaps lustfully) the most intimate, feminine finery his work would soon contain. Not assembly-line, industrial-grade substitutes whose money-motivated manufacturers reduce all women to consumers, no matter how frilly their lingerie.
“I’ve always wanted my very own lingerie chest,” I felt compelled to give some explanation to Jennifer, my new roommate, as she watched me circle the tall, thin piece of furniture at the antique shop as if it were the Holy Grail.
“Well, you can get something in much better shape, much cheaper, at Target or Wal-Mart, I’m sure.” She shook her head. Yes, some of the intricate, rosewood inlays were chipped, and one of the cabriole legs looked wobbly.
“But this is the real deal,” I exclaimed. “Marie Antoinette could well have kept her undies in this very chest.”
“So you can make-believe you’re the real deal.” Jennifer laughed and squeezed my hand. She was what would-be women like me call a GG (genetic girl), and she would sometimes like to tease me about the “replica cunt” I wanted a surgeon one day soon to carve. I liked it, too – the teasing. It felt like hugging.
“Don’t you just love the lock on each drawer,” I said and touched what looked like a miniature padlock key. “The fact that you have to use this tiny bronze thingie to open them….”
“All you need is a dainty, pink silk ribbon to tie around the key.” Jennifer laughed again. As a GG, she had the natural-born, enviable self-confidence to scoff at feminine stereotypes and to needle me accordingly. I never knew her to wear matching bra and panties. She kept them all in a heap in the top drawer of an oversized, walnut dresser.
I picked up the brass key, studied its intricate teeth, then fondled it between my fingers. It was so tiny it could have fit the door lock of a Jane Austen dollhouse. It was so tiny it was a miracle it hadn’t been misplaced over the years, to be lost forever. What women’s hands, how many, had held it so, as I was now doing? What secrets would it unlock?