I once finished out the second half of a soccer tournament in a stolen thong. I wore it underneath my underwear and it rode up my ass for 45 minutes as I jogged up and down the field and occasionally kicked a ball. I should clarify the origins of the stolen undergarment as I don’t want you to think I’m super gross because I dug them out of a teammate’s duffle bag and awkwardly pulled them on while hovering over a port-a-potty. I’m not creepy or anything.
I couldn’t walk out of Target empty-handed. Without panty lines, new possibilities were endless.Earlier, after we won our first game and moved onto round two, our coach decided to take us to the Mall of the Bluffs in scenic Council Bluffs, IA as we were all starving and our game wouldn’t be until later that afternoon. We were free to roam the mall’s various boutiques and kiosks after we ate our Sbarro pizzas, and that’s when I found myself in Target. I didn’t go into that particular Target knowing that I’d walk out with a stolen thong riding up my ass. I’d never stolen anything in my life—anything with a price tag, that is.
I didn’t even own a thong since my mother refused to buy them and, being 16 and jobless, I rarely had money. But thongs marked womanhood even more than padded bras, a point that Rylie Braves proved in 8th grade when she’d sit down in the front row of most classes, displaying the colorful floss that drew prepubescent eyes straight to her ass. We gals with fully-covered bottoms were doomed from that moment on as we watched her flirt and smack her gum, her power clearly channeled directly from the thong.
I begged my mom to buy me thongs, but she said no, and my dad chimed in that his daughters were not to wear the undergarments of street walkers and pole dancers. I’d model my granny-pantied ass in front of my full-length mirror and pull up the ends into a makeshift thong, but the result just wasn’t the same, the bulging fabric much too obvious under my high-waisted jeans. So when I reached the lingerie section of the Council Bluffs Target, I browsed the rows upon rows of thongs, snatched up a handful, and headed straight for the dressing room.
Minding the posted signs requesting that customers try undergarments on without getting stark naked, and well aware by now that crabs were indeed a real thing thanks to horror stories from skanky friends, I tried on pair after pair of thong underwear. I reveled at how, indeed, there was no longer a panty line. Well, I imagined it, since I was still wearing my sweaty soccer underwear while I modeled in various lunging and squatting poses in front of the mirror, poses that were necessary for testing out the elasticity of underwear as I planned on getting my mileage out of them. I even did that pose with my back to the mirror and my head turned toward it, my hands holding up my hair like I was a goddamn porn star, the thong giving me more power than I had dared to dream.
There was one problem: I spent the only money I had on pizza just moments earlier. And now that I had had a taste of the sexy freedom that thong-hood provided, I couldn’t walk out of Target empty-handed. Without panty lines, new possibilities were endless: a date to prom, make out sessions with boys in cornfields off Painter Road, or a coveted parking spot in the Pamida lot where cool girls would whisper about me and boys would spit chew into Mountain Dew bottles before leaning into the window saying, "Sup?" My entire future depended on less than 12 inches of fabric, and I reasoned that I wasn’t doing anything truly harmful, like stealing someone’s identity or a newborn baby from a maternity wing. So I made a decision: I was going to shoplift.
The pair I chose was part of a three-piece set, so I tore it from the plastic holding them all together, and I slipped them on under my own underwear. Instantly I felt dangerous and cool. I quickly dressed and fixed my hair like nothing happened. Play it cool, I thought. I returned the garments to the clerk’s countertop and beelined for the exit, notating cameras along the way. I looked over my shoulder occasionally, hoping I wasn’t followed. When I reached the exit, I stopped. The giant detectors flanking the mall entrance were suddenly terrifying. I hadn’t thought about those. But it was now or never. The bus was leaving for the tournament and there was no time to undo my deed, so I stepped through the threshold and held my breath.
Nothing. Not one sound. No mall security guards tackled me to the ground and pressed my face into the linoleum and called me a punk. No Target employees ran after me pointing a finger yelling, "Seize her!" I had successfully stolen my first item. I robbed the good people of Target out of roughly $3.00. And it was with a rush of adrenaline that I rejoined my teammates on the bus and headed back for the fields knowing that I would be changed forever, eventually stealing items ranging from pens and waterproof mascara to necessary equipment from several construction sites in Mills County from a noted real estate agent. But none of them felt like that first time, and I haven’t been caught yet.