I had been having a perfectly fine day. A good night's rest. An early morning run. But then, the close encounter of the worst kind with a receptionist so cold and heartless, I wouldn't have bet the farm that she was made of flesh and blood.

OK, so I did error by writing down the wrong time for my appointment. But when she saw the sincere look of shock on my face, couldn't she have shown a little mercy? Couldn't she have clicked on her computer with her 3-inch acrylic nails and fit me in sooner than six weeks? No such chance. She flipped an appointment card to me like a heartless card shark in Vegas. Take it or leave it.

I took it. And left. Then I sat in my car in the parking lot feeling utterly and completely lost. Not to mention more than a little embarrassed at messing up the time after five weeks of waiting. Despondently I sighed, "Now what can I do?"

Then from out of nowhere, an answer rang forth: "Start up your engine, Sweetie, and go buy yourself new underwear."

So that's exactly what I did. I'm not one for shopping, but I drove right to the mall, and lucky day for me! My favorite Jockey underwear was on sale, six pair for the price of four. As I dove into the huge display of different colored silkies, I lost all of those yucky feelings that the Ice Queen receptionist had handed me.

Scarlet red, chocolate brown, powder-puff pink, midnight black, Bermuda blue, first-snow white. So many choices! How does one choose? It's simple. You don't. It's not like you're buying a new house or any big thing like that. Underwear is the smallest thing. Who's going to see? So you pick out all the colors you like and double up on black and white.

Then back home you fly to toss out the old and gently put in the new. You even fold it a special way and arrange it by color. Just like it was in the store. And then every day begins like your birthday. Which little gift are you going to wear today? Do you feel like having a Bermuda blue day or a puffy pink one? The choice is yours.

Then, another secret about the joy of having these simple little things. You ladies, you know this is true. For a good week or so when you pass by your dresser, you stop to open that top drawer and peek in -- as if you're looking at a garden of lovely fresh flowers.

Of course, that same day that I came home with my bouquet of new undies, I received an even greater gift of unexpected happiness. Again, from the simplest little thing. A phone call from a friend who somehow sensed that I needed a good laugh.

"Oh, I know exactly what you mean about those poopy people behind those sliding glass windows in doctors' offices," my friend said. She should know. She's had enough visits these past two years to last her a lifetime.

Most receptionists aren't like that. Poopy people, as my friend calls them. But once in a while, you get that crab who seems to be mad at the whole world. You know she's been stewing like that long before she demanded your insurance card. And being who you are -- a bit worried right now but not angry at anyone -- you consider complimenting her on her hairdo or her purple-framed glasses.

But how can you talk to someone who won't even look at you when she tosses you a clipboard? The safest thing to do is pick up the card she flipped your way and high-tail it out the door.

Then go buy yourself new underwear.

And pick up the phone and laugh with a friend who, you discover, just bought new undies last week, too.

"My first pair of no-line black with a little red stripe!" She giggles like a girl.

You tell her about your new colors. And suddenly, all is perfectly fine with your world once again.



Lorraine Lordi lives in Londonderry. To order the most recent collection of her favorite Derry News columns, visit www.plumriverpress.com.

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