The saga of ‘Panty Paul Parsons’
Paul Parson’s adolescence was seriously damaged by his sister’s panties. I’ll even go so far as to say that same pair of white, women’s underwear drastically changed how Paul developed, matured and became the man he is today. Nicknames can stick to you like a wart. Even now, back in the town where we grew up, he is still occasionally referred to as “Panty Paul Parsons.” It all might have been entirely different had his mother been paying better attention. But Paul was one of six kids, and his Mum had her hands full. To understand the backdrop, one must know about the Catholic Youth Organization sleepover. The night consisted of a delicious dinner of Sloppy-Joes, then a screening of some scratchy horror movie on an old projector operated by Father Casey, our parish priest. After the film, cots would be dragged onto the basketball court, and 50 or so young boys would pretend to be asleep. Father Casey and his assistant, Brother Tom along with several parent-chaperons would be scatted among the wide-eyed kids trying to keep order.The next day, we would all be loaded into school buses for a trip to some nearby attraction like a zoo, park or historical destination. Father Casey would sit in the front of the bus and lead us in endless renditions of (that classic Catholic hymn) “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” stopping only in the event of a child getting car-sick enough to vomit.Included in the parental permission slip was a check-list of what each child needed to pack for this high adventure: pajamas, toothbrush, sweat shirt, one extra tee-shirt and pair of clean underwear, all packed in a pillow case to use on the cots.The “extra pair of clean underwear” requirement was Paul Parson’s undoing. (I think it was put on the list in case one of us had an “accident.” I don’t remember ever putting my clean pair on – it was only a couple of days.) I’m guessing Paul’s mother was distracted when she packed Paul’s pillowcase, because she mistakenly threw in a pair of his sister’s underwear instead of what should have been Froot of the Loom tighty-whities.You can guess what happened: When Paul dumped the contents of his pillowcase on his cot, one of the older kids noticed the panties, picked them up and began waving them over his head. Bedlam ensued, and from that moment, on Paul was known as “Panty Paul Parson,” “Panty Parson” – or “Panty” for short. Had his name been Steve Ferguson things might have been different: “Panty Steve Ferguson” just doesn’t have the same alliterative ring as “Panty Paul Parson.” Moreover, had Paul been excessively large, aggressive or crazy, he might have avoided the nickname that plagued him until he moved from our hometown. I had another friend, Patrick, whose nickname – for reasons I won’t go into – was “Wiffle Balls.” That nickname was short-lived, because anytime anyone used it, Pat would attack them. Paul, on the other hand, wasn’t a sissy – just a little quiet, passive and an easy victim. Other than his nickname, Paul was a regular kid. He was a good student, played sports, dated and had his own circle of friends. And I can’t say that he was always referred to by his nickname; but it was always there. I remember him both before and after that fateful sleepover and I can say that his demeanor changed. He was more withdrawn post-panty incident, and his posture suggested a lack of confidence. Paul and I didn’t run with the same crowd (most of his friends didn’t have police records). He left town about the same year I did – me to Colorado, him to college – and neither of us returned. I’m told he now lives on the West Coast, is married and has made a killing in software. I was also told he has helped raise five kids: three of his own and two adopted. So I don’t know much about the present-day Paul Parsons, but I can guarantee this: If those kids head off for an over-night sleepover, Paul packs their pillowcases himself.Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.