DIANE PHILLIPS: That sexy lingerie . . . why, oh why did I save it all these years?


Diane Phillips

For my 50th birthday, our close friends Jackson and Pam Burnside gave me a very sexy, see-through piece of lingerie. It was an all-in-one panty and top with ever so thin straps, made all of lace and imagination. The occasion fell not long after I had lost a breast to cancer and Pam, who survived breast cancer earlier, wanted to make sure that I did not feel less of a woman because one breast was now rebuilt out of available body flab, not that there was much of it at the time.

The touching if somewhat embarrassing gift was presented aboard a boat where the birthday party with friends and family was being celebrated. We all laughed and cheered as I held up the skimpy lingerie and danced around, pretending to model it. The next morning, I tucked it between two sheets of tissue and carefully put it away in the back of my drawer for a special occasion. About once a year, I would take it out and wonder if this was the right time. Last year, as I was cleaning and re-lining the drawer, I looked at it and knew the time had passed, I had waited too long. The material had deteriorated, the colour yellowed.

So much has happened since that extravagant gift was offered. Jackson, an extraordinary Bahamian who helped shape this country’s history, passed away far too young with still so much more to give. Pam has continued to show her strength of character and cultural conviction a thousand times over, starting the day of his funeral when those of us present saw her do something we have never seen since, tell politicians who arrived late to find a seat where they could, she would not be moving seated mourners.

The lingerie-in-waiting remained as years turned into decades. Prime Ministers have come and gone. The American presidency has changed hands and parties more times than I want to share lest you guess my age. Volcanoes have erupted, earthquakes shattered poor nations, hurricanes flooded major cities and rendered small islands uninhabitable. And all the while I was waiting for the perfect moment to wear the gift from my special friends.

I finally parted with it and shed a tear, not for the loss of a garment, nor for the loss of a wonderful human being whose death still seems unreal, but for the fact that I kept thinking tomorrow was the right time. That somehow the memories I would make in the future would be better than the ones I can make today.

I was sharing this story with a casual friend this week who said I should write about why we save the things we do. Why, for instance, do we save all the old vinyl records when the re-mastered sound that can be easily downloaded is so much better? Why do my husband and I still have a chess board with a leather board cover and miniature wooden legs that a friend gave us when we don’t play chess and someone we could give it to might treasure it? Why do we squirrel away everything but money? I have a folder bulging with great writing samples, lists of books to read, scraps of paper with notes, story ideas, Family Island places I want to stay and beaches I want to walk before climate change erodes the chance. Maybe there was a lesson in the lingerie that stayed hidden away for a perfect moment after all.

Maybe procrastination, like a dinner menu or a choice of wine, is an act preceded by selection, ensuring that what we choose to do later will be better if done tomorrow.

And the most offensive sign of the week?

the tasteless award of the week goes to Yanni’s on East Shirley Street for plastering the wall of the old hotel property at the corner of Shirley and Village Roads with a sign that screams Keys Cut While You Wait. Isn’t it bad enough that you have already fouled the whole block with coloured blinking lights, duplicate parking signs and more? Who gave one business the right to spoil the view for hundreds of motorists a day? The physical environment belongs to all of us.

On behalf of baked cauliflower and southern fried pickles

Speaking of dinner selections, it’s sad but true. Some foods get a bad rap before they ever reach a taste bud while others get away with pretences. No one criticises apples just because they contain sugar (yes, we know it is not refined). On the other hand, offer cauliflower in a crowd and see how many takers you get, waving arms like they’d won the lottery. Or lima beans. Okay, I get the last one. I would have to be pretty close to eating cardboard decorated with the picture of food before I would voluntarily swallow a mouthful of lima beans.

Truth is, almost every food has its good points when prepared right. Like cauliflower in a package where the only marking I could find read Real Food from the GROUND UP. Four ounces of cauliflower prepared with cassava, tasty snack with 1g of sugar only, gluten-free, pure veggie, delicious, available at Whole Foods in the US and highly recommended for importing to The Bahamas. And if you haven’t had southern fried pickles – an original recipe I believe created by super chef Bahamian Gavin Skolnick – well, you just haven’t had pickles.

Wishing you emancipation from the kitchen on Monday, the holiday, and appreciation for the real meaning of the holiday, freedom for all.


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