The butt of a backpacked dad poked into me, uncomfortably adjacent to my face. The taekwondo studio was packed, the stench of unwashed feet drifting over the waiting parents. I mentally high fived myself for snagging one of the four coveted comfy chairs.
It was roasting. I turned to the mom next to me who, like most mothers of kindergartners, could have been my daughter. She was crammed knees up on a barely padded backless bench. “Is it super-hot in here this week or am I just having a hot flash?” I asked.
She laughed uncomfortably. “I don’t know. This is our first week,” she said, as though if she had been there the previous week she could have made an intelligent judgment about whether the studio’s or my body’s temperature had increased. The young mother stared straight ahead, pretending she could see her kid punching and kicking through the crowd, actively disengaging from me.
“Weird,” I thought. “I wonder why she doesn’t want to talk about my hot flash?”
I tore off my coat, simultaneously cracking my head into her shoulder. I attempted to swivel around to press my cheek against the window behind me, but Backpack Dad’s girth blocked me. I scanned the room for an escape route, but the pulsing mob of parents obstructed all means of ingress and egress. I tugged my phone out of my pocket and waved it in front of my face like a fan. I was burning up.
This called for drastic action.
This called for clothing removal.
I was wearing the stylish outfit I’ve been wearing every day this winter: Leggings, whatever t-shirt I step on when I get out of bed, and a $15 snap-up Target flannel shirt. I love that damn shirt. Easy on, easy off. The perfect layer when the temperature rises unexpectedly.
I gripped a shirttail in each hand and yanked them apart. With the rat-a-tat of an automatic weapon, the snaps flew open.
And I realized, too late, that I had not donned my usual t-shirt layer.
A Dramatic Reenactment (rated G)
Just at that second, class ended. Backpack Dad bent down to find his kid’s shoes. The sea of parents obscuring my view suddenly parted.
And there I sat, essentially topless, except for a nude-colored bra. Which, from afar, looks just like nudity.
The young mother next to me let out a gasp. Parents and instructors averted their eyes. Children stared.
On the plus side, I was much cooler.