By Rosalie Tirella
You know America is falling apart when you visit a major discount department store in Worcester, walk into the ladies “intimate” section and ask the pretty young sales clerk: “Where are your half slips? Or slips?” and she says, “What’s a slip?”
You say, incredulously: YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT A SLIP IS?!!
She says: NO.
You say, it’s something silky women wear under their skirts and dresses so the sunlight or a car headlight doesn’t reveal the crotch area when you’re walking past the light …it’s made of thin material, usually nylon or polyester.
She looks flummoxed.
I say: Don’t you wear a slip when you wear a dress or skirt?
She sweetly stares at me.
It’s like I’m talking to a box of dog biscuits.
So I move onto the next pretty sales clerk in the discount department store and ask her sweetly, because I think the other young sales clerk is the exception to the rule, WHERE ARE YOUR SLIPS?
She says: WHAT’S A SLIP?
Disoriented, befuddled, I walk to the underwear racks and rifle through ALL their intimate apparel: bras, panties, thin “shape wear” – today’s girdles – and their sporty camisoles … several long racks of ladies intimate apparel. No slips. One of the store managers walks by me, curious. I shoot him an angry look but do not ask him for help, ask him if he has any slips. He’s a guy.
I leave the discount department store and drive to another discount department store in Worcester to buy my two half slips. Being on the road means my slips (most given to me by gal pal Dorrie who knows what a slip is and has given me some very pretty ones through the years) are in storage or were chucked in some motel room or pal’s place as my dogs and I search for an affordable apartment in Worcester and Chris Orcutt at SMOC shuts his building down on Chandler Street because he has COVID. This development after his week-long vacation. So my search for housing – and hundreds of other folks’ – is interrupted because Chris is a pointless paper-pusher who doesn’t serve SMOC’s clients. Chris probably doesn’t know what a slip is either.
But I digress. Like I said: It’s been an interesting journey! I’ve lost a lot these past months – antiques, a fake fur coat I planned to send to my sister who has Parkinson’s, a ladies electric razer kit, a bottle of witch hazel … and my half slips. Dorrie’s stepped up but is exasperated. BUY THEM! she texted me, when I texted her: Dorrie, I NEED SOME SLIPS! Large!
So here I am at Marshall’s looking for half slips. Everything looks so classy and put together here. Surely, the attractive young sales clerks will be able to help me. I walk over to one and ask her: WHERE ARE YOUR SLIPS?
She says: WHAT’S A SLIP?
I tell her and she is still stumped. I say: Just point me to your intimate apparel section. She does. It’s the same story here: nylon body shapers, bras, bikini panties, hip hugger panties… but no slips. I decide to buy some panties: cotton, high waisted. Basic. Functional. No go. Everything is polyester! I want cotton! Cotton breathes! Everything is way below the belly button. I want waist-high panties! Fuming, I tear through the five long racks of underwear and, finally, land on some thin cotton hip hugger panties. Large. There are five panties artfully hanging from little clear plastic hangers. They are ugly. I buy them anyways and leave Marshall’s where you can purchase gorgeous on-trend rugs, poofs, furniture and even exotic coffees BUT NO SLIPS.
Dorrie suggested that I go to Good Will. They’d probably have slips there. Just wash them before you wear them! Dorrie instructed me. A new day, a new hunt. I drive to Good Will on Park Ave. I throw caution to the wind and run straight to the Latino kid working the cash register and ask him: Where are your half slips?
He says: What’s a slip?
I crumple on his cash register. Practically in tears, I say: Why don’t you kids know what slips are?! What is wrong with this country?! Your mom probably wears them! Or your older sister! This is unbelievable!!!! This is too much!!
The Good Will kid was a guy but he was sympathetic. I explained to him what a slip was and told him of my quest for TWO FREAKIN’ HALF SLIPS IN THE CITY OF WORCESTER and almost cried. “PLEASE!” I pleaded. “I am so tired!! I just want to buy two half slips. I don’t care about their color. I DON’T EVEN WANT TO GO LOOK FOR THEM!!!
The young Latino kid smiled sympathetically at his distraught customer and walked out from behind his cash register and went into the miles and miles of Good Will clothing racks and knick knacks and electronic shelves and shoes on stands and came back with TWO HALF SLIPS! Nylon. Large. One was black, the other white.
I said, “WOW!!”
He said, “My grandmother buys hers at Walmart.”
When did American ladies – with slips in their hospital overnight bags – give birth to babies who would grow up to wonder aloud: What’s a “slip”?
When hospitals kicked you out hours after you gave birth! When America got cheap and plastic and distracted and half slips were lost to plasma TVs, a 7 dollar minimum wage, MCAS tests, empty churches, millions of guns and not enough unions!
When my mom had me she spent one week – ONE WEEK!! – like all new moms – at Memorial Hospital on Belmont Street recovering from childbirth. For one week she was spoiled by the nurses, visited by her obstetrician. She was served breakfast in bed. Wore pretty pink quilted bed jackets. Visitors came to her bedside with flowers. AND SHE HAD A SLIP FOR UNDER HER DRESS WHEN SHE WAS DISCHARGED FROM MEMORIAL HOSPITAL!
America has changed since I was a kid – the days every girl grew up learning what a slip was! And wore them! Worcester moms bought our slips – and theirs – at Woolworths, Denholms, The Deb Shoppe, The Mart, depending on your economic class. And we girls wore them under our First Holy Communion dresses, prom dresses, school uniforms if we went to Catholic school, first date dresses, Easter dinner outfits for Uncle Mark and Aunt Mary’s …When we took home the leftovers in TUPPERWARE MADE IN THE GRAND USA!
When did we slip up?