Much to my fiancee Lauren’s chagrin, I follow Victoria’s Secret on Instagram. We’ll be laying in bed on a Saturday, scrolling through our feeds–she looking for babies and puppies, her two favorite things, and me looking at whatever the hell is there–when a basically-naked model will appear on my screen, and she’ll clear her throat.
“So when are you going to stop following them?” she’ll say.
“Why would I stop following Victoria’s Secret?”
With this, her face will assume a look that says, “Oh, why do you think, asshole?” and I’ll pause for a second before responding, “Because there’s basically a nude chick wearing a thong and licking a lollipop?”
But what Lauren doesn’t understand is that I’m one of those guys who truly reads, or used to read, Playboy for the articles. It’s an old joke, I know; but they really do have some of the best writing around. Which is exactly how I feel about following Victoria’s Secret on Instagram: I don’t do it to look at the models; I only do it to read what they write on the back of panties. Because, let’s be honest, they’re entertaining as hell.
When I took the job there a few years ago, I never imagined I would say something like this. They’re panties: Who cares what they write on the back of them? But Victoria’s Secret really takes it to a new level. As a professional writer, they’re one of the few writing staffs, next to The Onion, Curb Your Enthusiasm, or any show Greg Daniels produces, that I still dream about being apart of.
And how could I not when, during my year as a bra salesman, I came across such stunning examples of literary masterpiece:
For example, there were the ones that simply read, in bold, yellow letters, “LAUGH,” which seems counterintuitive to everything I’ve learned to do to women when they’re undressing. There were also ones that read in bold, multi-colored letters, “SURPRISE!” which is not something I ever want your underwear, or whatever might be in your underwear, to shout at me.
Then there were ones that read, “Call Me,” and “I Heart French Kissing,” which were cute, but (and call me old-fashioned) seemed to be a little redundant if someone has gotten you to strip down to your underpants.
Then there were those that involved food, like the ones that read, “Take A Bite”, or the ones that said, “I Heart” followed by a picture of a banana. There were also ones that just had a hamburger on the crotch, or a cupcake, or two cherries, which confused for quite some time, because who, metaphorically, has two cherries? I later decided these were just a subtle way of saying, “The first time was just the tip.”
Then there were those that, for lack of a better phrase, didn’t care to beat around the bush, and said things like, “Sure Thing”, or “Sleep With Me”, or “I Want to **** You”. These last ones didn’t actually have the F-word on them; it was bleeped out; but still: I’d watched, throughout my year as a bra salesman, as the panties grew more and more forward, thinking all the time, “Oh just come out and say it already.” Until, well…they finally did. And now I still kick myself for not buying a pair as, days after being released, they were pulled from all Victoria’s Secret stores. Parents apparently were horrified by them. Hamburgers and phrases like “Take A Bite”? No. But telling somebody who has clearly gotten you to half-naked that you want to F them? Well, that’s just wrong.
While the panty slogans and decorations entertained me throughout the year, I found what they wrote during the holiday season to be the, again for lack of a better term, cheekiest.
Christmas in and of itself at Victoria’s Secret was fantastic, with the cheery, poppy tunes, the new, festive bags, and the numerous celebrities that stop by to purchase hundreds of dollars worth of sweat suits. Martina McBride did this one day, and it took everything I had not to ask her, “This one’s for the girls?”
But again, for me, it was all about the panty writing. Some of my favorites from Christmas 2010 included the black and gold, New-Years-themed ones that read “Noise Maker”. There were the ones with the lyric from “Jingle Bells” on the butt, reading “Oh what fun”, which if you continue the song is followed by “It is to ride.” And if you still didn’t get the picture from these of what kind of woman you might be dealing with, they laid it out for you in simpler terms–with the ones that read “Ho, Ho, Ho”.
I haven’t really kept up with it since I left. Occassionally I’ll spot some on Instagram and get a chuckle, but nothing that’s been seared into my memory–until a few weeks ago, when I saw their new lineup of Christmas panties. This year they have a candy cane striped one, some kind of bikini, with the phrase “Sleighin’ It” across the butt. They also have a red boy short with silver lettering that reads, “I Want It All”, which seems a little too risque to be clever, like they normally are. My favorite though is one that seems perfect for the germophobe in your life. The same boyshort in green, this time with white lettering, it reads “Check It Twice”.
When I read these, I wonder what it’s like to be in their writing room, and how difficult it is coming up with something new at this point. After exhausting every innuendo possible involving the naughty list, mistletoe, and stocking stuffers, what else do you do? I get the general sense from reading them that they’re running out of ideas. I mean, “I Want It All” and another one, a black thong, that reads “Been Bad”. This is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel for holiday ideas. Why not at least go over to Chanukah? There has to be something you can do with a menorah.
Then again, it seems I have been in the writing room at some point over the past year. A few days after I saw the first picture, Victoria’s Secret posted another to their Instagram, this time a solitary panty, gray, with picture on the butt that made me stop in my tracks.
Since leaving the store in 2011, I’ve told many stories from my experiences with customers, coworkers, and girls I dated at the time. But there’s one I’ve told more often than others–one I included in my interview with British GQ last year, and included in a bunch of stories a friend brought to the Vice President of Victoria’s Secret in 2013–about one of my coworkers, a girl I refer to as “Cottontail”. The name came about from a conversation we had one night. I was checking on a panty for a customer in the backroom, when she and one of the managers called me into the office because they had a question. When the manager refused to ask me, Cottontail turned in her chair and smiled. “Christopher…do you like a girl who bleaches her butthole?”
“I’m sorry, what?” I said. I’d never heard of anything like it in my life.
“A girl who bleaches her butthole. You know, whitens her cottontail?”
She said this as if Bleaches Her Butthole were an old high school classmate of ours whose real name I’d forggoten, but nickname would surely job my memory. “Bleaches her butthole, you know, whitens her Cottontail?”
“Oh yeah, old Bleachy, how is she?”
From that point on, I never looked at little white rabbits, with fluffy white tails the same way again. How could I? Which is why, when I looked at that picture on Victoria’s Secret’s Instagram, and saw that solitary panty, this time gray, with a picture on the butt, I stopped in my tracks.
Glaring off the screen, firmly seated between the model’s butt cheeks, was a small, white bunny with an actual, puffy, white fluff ball for a tail.
“I wonder if she whitens her cottontail?” I thought. Then proceeded to call my lawyer.