« Oh my God, I’ve forgotten his pants! »
The thought raced through my mind as I studied the number 1 on the wall of the carriage, congratulating myself on my maiden voyage in first class. I had also managed to simultaneously contemplate the fact that my son would be getting himself dressed about now and all his underwear was at the bottom of the tumble dryer.
When I had arrived home from work yesterday evening, I had shoved two armloads of washing into the machines, in between making dinner for the kids and clearing up. I would sort it all out in the morning, I told myself.
Arriving back from my line-dancing rehearsal at midnight though, I found my husband standing in the hallway, clad in his dressing gown. “There are storms forecasted for tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll have to bale the hay earlier than I thought. Do you mind if we leave at 6?” I glued a smile onto my face, trying not to look too stricken by the idea that I would only spend what seemed like 5 minutes in bed. “Pas de problème”, I answered graciously.
We departed at daybreak, 2 hours earlier than originally planned. My husband left me at the station at Orange, and I finished the journey to Nîmes by train. I had found a babysitter for the children, but in my hurry, hadn’t thought to leave their clothes out as usual. My son would never think to look for his underpants elsewhere than in his cupboard. He would remain knickerless all day.
I waited until we drew into the station to call my husband, alternatively juggling thoughts about being a bad mother, and an unorganised one to boot. When he answered, I asked tactfully about the whereabouts of our youngest. “He’s gone out already with my mother to see the neighbours” he said cheerfully. I groaned inwardly, by midday the whole village would know about the absence of his underwear.
In the end I told him. And as usual he laughed at the importance that I place on what he considered to be such inconsequentials matters. “He doesn’t care” he said “so why should you?”
He was right and I tried to put it out of my mind. I had a couple of hours before the meeting that I was interpreting for started, and I was by myself. In a town. With shops. As the realization trickled delightfully through me, I jumped out of the train and went to look at the wall map of Nimes; not knowing where I was going, but hoping to see an arrow next to the Arena and Cathedral pointing to “Clothes Shops”.
When I arrived home, I hugged my son and felt the contours of pants through his trousers. Pas de problème, he’d informed me to my mixed feelings of relief and horror. He’d put yesterday’s back on.