My grandmother had a strange obsession with car wrecks. It wasn’t that she worried so much about dying in them or totaling her precious Buick. Nope, she was more concerned with what the paramedics and/or ER personnel would think of your undergarments should you be so severely wounded you would need transport and disrobing for treatment purposes. She not only worried about her own undies in this highly unlikely scenario, but also the underwear of her entire family.
“Ashley, go change those panties right now. They have holes in them,” she would tell my 7-year-old self as we were getting dressed to go somewhere. And not to anywhere fancy, mind you, probably just to school, the Piggly Wiggly or the TG&Y. “What if we had a car wreck? Would you want the people in the ambulance to see those things? You just never know what’s going to happen when you walk out that door.”
Being a young child, I just accepted this as fact. If we were to somehow wrap her LeSabre around a tree or accidentally run it into the Tombigbee River, the first thing on the minds of the paramedics would, of course, be the tattered condition of my Strawberry Shortcake panties.
“I think we are going to lose her. Give me the paddles. But good God, have you seen her underwear? Who leaves the house like that? Clear!”
Tragically, it may not stop with the ambulance workers and ER docs. Could you imagine the horror if you showed up to the pearly gates in your skankiest skivvies? What would St. Peter think?
“Um yeah. Are you really planning on wearing those for eternity? Ohhhh-kay. Whatevs. Luckily the big guy doesn’t judge.”
I would love to say my grandmother’s unusual desire to make sure we are all wore fancy “drawers” at all times in case of vehicular tragedy gave me some complex as an adult to always be prepared for such. But let’s just say there are a few pair in the rotation that would cause harsh judgment from any medical personnel and/or higher beings that got a look at them as I lay dying. But when those do come up in the rotation (usually when I haven’t had time to do much laundry), I always hear her disappointed voice in the back of my mind. “Oh, Ashley!” Sorry, Grams.
In this same vein, a lifetime of watching “Dateline,” “48 Hours,” “Forensic Files” and “Law and Order” always has me thinking what the detectives and crime scene investigators would think if they found my dead body in a gutter and I didn’t have any identification on me.
It seems, at least in “Law and Order,” the medical examiner makes a lot of judgments about John and Jane Does based on whether or not their fingernails are manicured. If they are, they start questioning tennis pros at area country clubs. If not, they start showing your picture to all the local pimps. Unfortunately, my cold dead hands would fall into the hooker category most of the time.
They also judge you on your stomach contents. What can I say? One day they may find Ruth’s Chris, the next they may find Krystal. Maybe both. This is really going to throw Detectives Briscoe and Curtis for a loop!
“It appears Ruth’s Chris was her last meal, as her stomach is full of butter, steak, ice cream and Frangelico, but that just doesn’t make sense, considering the condition of her fingernails, not to mention her underwear.”
If they find you dead at your home, they will not only judge your body but your house. This is the one I worry about the most. Because with two kids, my house often looks like a crime scene and there have been no crimes committed in my home (to my knowledge).
They’ll look around first and see drawers pulled out in all of the bedrooms with clothes falling out of them. There will be soccer balls and ballet shoes in strange places like the dining room table or on the back of the toilet. Toys will be scattered from one end of the house to the other.
Detective Briscoe will say to Curtis as he arrives on the scene, “I just got here but it clearly looks like a robbery.“
I will overhear this as I lay there dead. My ghost will leave my body and try to say as I hover over the scene, “Hey guys, I know it looks like someone just robbed this place or perhaps they were looking for secret files, but that’s not the case. We were just in a big hurry this morning. I swear I was going to straighten it all back up tonight! Please don’t think we live like this all the time!”
But they can’t hear me.
CSI will scrape a hardened red substance off of the kitchen counter and say, “Detectives, looks like we may have some blood over here.”
Don’t waste your time, CSI. It’s just dried ketchup from chicken fingers the other night.
“Detectives, there is an unidentified white substance on the couch. We’re sending it to the lab, but you know what that could indicate.”
No, no, no, CSI. The only thing that indicates is that my stupid kids rubbed the frosting from their cinnamon rolls on my couch … again. I swear I have asked them not to a million times. I was going to get this all cleaned up tonight! You have to believe me.
My ghost will float around miserably, embarrassed that the detectives and forensics team had to see my house in this condition. I’ll try to pick up a few things but my ghost hands won’t let me.
Distraught, I will hear the M.E., who had been giving my dead body a preliminary assessment, call the detectives over.
“I’m not sure burglary is your motive,” she says. “The victim’s underwear is practically torn to shreds.”
No, no, no, no, no, no. They are just the old ones. I was going to do laundry tomorrow! Why did I have to be murdered today of all days? I had good ones on yesterday, damn it!
Just then, Grams floats up right up beside me and looks down at my lifeless body and tattered underwear. “See, I told you.”