For two months now I’ve been embarrassed that I forgot to wear my shorts when I went out in public, and last week I did it again.

It’s not what you think. I didn’t just wander out of my house without the bottom half of my outfit missing. I was at the gym and had put on my leggings, and after an exhaustive search of my gym bag that left a pile of items ranging from empty cigarette packs, a padlock, three books of short stories, and a mountain of t-shirts strewn across the bench I was sitting on, the only thing that wasn’t inside were my shorts.

Now I’m very aware that all sorts of women walk around wearing leggings, but I’m not one of them and I never will be, at least not on purpose.

I think it’s pretty gross that people use gym equipment without wiping it down, and I’m mortified when I see people sitting in each other’s sweat. I feel like the least people can do is layer up at the gym. It’s just a common courtesy, (and we all know that those have been thrown to the wayside because everyone is so freaking self absorbed with their heads buried in their cell phones that god forbid you put it down to wash your hands or cover your mouth when you cough because the world might explode and we couldn’t have that! But we’ll never know will we? We’ll never know because no one will ever stop staring at their phone. And as long as it helps them keep staring at their phone, wiping down gym equipment in order for someone not to have to bathe in their germs is the least of their concerns.  I will continue my rant about cell phones at a future date after I work through my shame of being pants-less.)

Once I realized my shorts weren’t in my bag, I had to decide if I was comfortable being one of ‘those’ women that walk around in leggings. I knew I could talk myself into it because that’s basically how I make myself do anything I’m nervous about doing. I just tell myself that it will either be more comfortable or less comfortable, but at least I’m farther along with whatever it is than where I was a few seconds ago. I knew not wearing pants wasn’t going to feel right at any time, but I hadn’t been to the gym in months and the voice in my head was telling me that I was there already so just hurry up and do it. I needed to start getting back in the groove.

There are things that I always wear when I leave my house: at least six rings on my fingers, my Egyptian cartouche with my name spelled in Arabic, and some kind of ornament or headband in my hair. If I don’t have all of those things going on I’m always aware that I don’t. Strangers seeing me would never think I was inwardly feeling naked, but if you know me then the first thing you’re going to notice is that I’m not wearing something in my hair.

Not one any one of those things could ever compare to the feeling of not having pants on. The certainty that no one was giving me more than anything other than a passing glance was impossible to fathom at the time, even though it was a more than acceptable once the whole traumatic experience was over.

Too much air across my legs. Too much visible thigh spreading and settling into a normally hidden pile of flesh. Too much big butt exposed that I had to constantly pull my t-shirt over because I felt so self conscious. It was all just too much. I definitely didn’t finish my work out, and I promised myself that I would always be prepared after that whole experience by always making sure my shorts were in my bag that was always in the trunk of my car.

Last week I started working with a personal trainer so that I can rehab my knees in order for me to start lifting weights again. I decided to get dressed at home instead of the gym for some reason which I have now come to accept as the universe playing a trick on me.

As I mentioned earlier, to avoid having the experience of not being fully clothed in public again, I had transferred all of my shorts into my gym bag. ALL of them. Which was in the trunk of my car. Downstairs in my parking space. Outside of my building. In the shared lot of my condominium.

One of the many things I love about living alone is the quiet. I like that it’s quiet when I swear really loudly because it just kind of hangs in the air like cigarette smoke. So after yelling out my favorite cuss word a few times while I stood in my leggings at the door, I realized that I only had to walk downstairs. It wasn’t like I was doing a full workout. I could pull off being one of those women that wore leggings out in public for a few seconds of my life.  Besides, the parking lot was pretty empty since it was early morning and my neighbors were all at work. I told myself as I turned on my alarm that I was only naked if I acted like I was. I needed to walk like I wore leggings without shorts all the time. No visible apprehension.

I made it to my car with no problems, and no interaction with neighbors. The whole walk took me probably about five seconds, but it was a really long five seconds since in my mind I was basically walking nude into my parking lot in the bright morning light.

This is when I flew too close to the sun.  I got cocky and decided that I may as well just put my shorts on right then since no one was around, and at that moment I became in my eyes completely without pants. As I stepped into my shorts it became very obvious that I hadn’t been wearing any and that I was now putting them on. At last I didn’t have to pretend that I was comfortable dressed like that because I wasn’t, and I wouldn’t be doing it ever again. My secret was safe! My shame was covered! And the only thing that completely messed up my whole sneaky reverse strip tease in the parking lot was one of my neighbors honking and waving good morning as they sped past me out of the driveway because they had been running late for work.

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