High Life / A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : Working in the Lingerie Dept.? Well, It Can Be Very Revealing

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; <i> Suzanne Knittle is a senior at Troy High School, where she is editor of Oracle, the student newspaper, and is a member of the National Honor Society. She hopes to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and major in interior design. </i>

When asked where I work, I usually try to avoid the subject. I mean, how does one tactfully say that she spends 15 hours a week buried under a heaping pile of underwear?

No, it’s no fetish. I work in the lingerie department of a major department store in the Brea Mall.

I usually feel fortunate that I have such a well-paying job, a wonderful boss and nice co-workers. I even enjoy taking the trash down to receiving to check out the dockworkers, but there is one disadvantage to my job: Many teen-age males, including my friends, are too embarrassed to come into the department.

One male teen-ager who ventured into the lingerie department was with his father, and the two were planning to buy the boy’s mother a birthday present.


I suppose this poor 14-year-old was close in size to his mother, because his father kept holding up lacy pink negligees and see-through sequined robes in front of his son, trying to visualize what they would look like on his wife. His imagination must have been working overtime because the boy had absolutely no figure.

Anyway, each time the father held up a piece of lingerie, the son would jump back and say, “Daaaaaad! Cut it out!”

Humiliated, the boy finally got fed up with standing in for his mother (not to mention that every woman in the department, including myself, was laughing hysterically) and half-stomped, half-raced over to the sportswear department to watch the football game on TV and reclaim part of his masculinity.

I really couldn’t blame him for being embarrassed; the only male teen-ager to linger in the lingerie department for any prolonged period of time is our stock person, Jason.

Jason is a pretty neat guy and a good conversationalist. Also, because he is over 6 feet tall, no employee needs to use a step ladder to retrieve merchandise.

Still, nothing could change the fact that Jason spends 70% of his working day with a beet-red face.

We girls always do our best to make him blush, and sometimes we don’t have to try very hard.

Jason once found himself trapped in the stockroom with me and another female co-worker. He sat down apprehensively and inquired, “Well, what would you like me to do now?”


He knew we would need his help unpacking and putting prices on merchandise, so we just let his question go unanswered.

After a few minutes, which must have seemed more like hours to Jason, my co-worker and I started opening boxes and checking out the new merchandise. We held the less-attractive items of lingerie up and with each piece would ask Jason: “Hey, how do you like this one?”

From the first time we saw the effect such teasing had on Jason--sweaty palms, blushing, etc.--we knew that each day we would have to bring forth a new and unique method of torture. To keep him from a complete breakdown, I occasionally discussed sports with him, but overall, Jason was exposed to just about everything.

The one thing he never saw, however, was the dressing area.


Although the entrance to one of our stockrooms was through the dressing rooms, that proved no problem for Jason as he could always send someone else to get things for him. No problem, that is, until one of the customers got stuck in a dressing room stall and we needed somebody strong to pull her out.

Jason, as luck would have it, was nowhere to be found in our time of need, so we turned to one of the store’s security men, who rescued the panic-stricken woman by removing the dressing room door.

The only other man I remember setting foot in one of the lingerie dressing rooms happened to be dressed up as a female. He was carrying an armful of designer fashions from one of the store’s posh and extremely expensive departments.

He emerged from the dressing rooms looking like a stylish version of Attila the Hun, wearing four fur coats and three hats over an abundance of dresses.


Well, it didn’t take long for security personnel to spot Attila, who, once he found himself surrounded by official-looking people who weren’t going to offer their shopping assistance, took off running for the exit. He was apprehended (well, tackled, really) once he got outside, and feather hats and furs went flying.

During the holidays, the lingerie department had its annual influx of males in a frantic search for the ultimate in underwear.

Each guy either snatched the first item that caught his eye to escape as soon as possible, or dispatched the entire department to find something his wife would like. Something that is undoubtedly purchased too small out of ignorance . . . or to spare feelings.

Something that will probably be returned the next day.