Biking In Panties

This is not that kind of post – this is a true story. It wasn’t a bet, I wasn’t drunk…I didn’t plan to bike 15 kilometers (just under 9.5miles) in a t-shirt and panties. It’s funny now, but at the time I wanted to crawl into a hole and die from embarassment.

I spent a glorious summer working at Fort William Historical Park – the world’s largest recreated fur-trading post. The summer before my final year at university, I got paid to dress in period clothing, (or rather, modern period clothing because we wore bras and panties and deodorant) pretend I was someone else, and research history. Sweet deal. It was actually a huge dream of mine to work at an interpretive historical site like this.

The Fort portrays the year 1815 and is located outside Thunder Bay, Ontario. I interpreted a young Métis woman (French father, Native mother), Jeanne Chouinard, who spent her days giving tours of the Fort and trying to convince a guy to marry her because she was tired of sleeping on the floor of her sister and brother-in-law’s bedroom with her 5 yr old niece. She wasn’t picky, and Voyageurs could always be counted on to flirt, dance, and tease. I was proposed to at least once a day, and went home each night to my husband with a clear conscience. I had opportunities to play the doctor’s wife, and the jailer’s wife also.

The whole summer was an absolute blast.

Except this one day…

Me in period costume

I was late one morning, flew into my costume, and ran out for the staff meeting. Normally, I folded and placed all my outside clothes neatly in my locker, but that day I barely had time to change and run. At the end of the day, I was assigned an extra tour and was late returning to the change room. My shorts were gone. GONE! Could not find them anywhere.

It was a 15km bike ride from my apartment to the Fort. I mean, as a starving student why pay bus fare when you have a perfectly good bike to get you there. This was before cellphones fit in your pocket. My parents lived too far away, we didn’t own a car, and I was NOT calling my father-in-law to come and pick me up in my panties.

I seriously considered turning back and just hiding out in one of the historic buildings for the night. But, the thought of bumping into my boss trying to sneak back in was less than appealing. To wear my costume outside the Fort would have cost me my job, the logistics of biking in the A-line cotton floor-length dress aside.

So, I pulled my t-shirt down as far as it would go, hopped on my bike, and headed home.

The kick-back riding past the pulp mill with flying wood chips was not fun at all. Of course, every stoplight was red on the way home. It’s impossible to keep a fitted ladies t-shirt pulled down over your bottom when you have to put one foot down at every intersection, by the way.

My path home required me to bike through town on one of the busiest east-west routes in the city. Why not take an alternate route – go through the bike paths and parks? Because I’m also directionally handicapped. Having to bike home in your panties is bad enough, getting lost on a bike in your panties is much worse.

I wasn’t wearing a thong (thankfully), but nothing fancy enough to pass for short shorts, and nobody is mistaking white cotton for a bathing suit. Absolute total humiliation. I was biking through town about 5:30-6pm – so yeah, rush hour. Old ladies covered the surprised O on their faces with their hands. Guys stared extra long as they passed in their cars. Had to bike through the university campus – that was fun…surprisingly busy for summer.

When I finally arrived home, I burst through the door, my t-shirt stretched beyond recovery trying to cover my behind. I pushed past my husband (who didn’t seem to notice my pantless state – the one person I wouldn’t have minded noticing – figures), slammed the bedroom door, jumped into bed, and pulled the covers up over my head.

The next morning I stuffed an emergency pair of shorts in my backpack in case the pair I was wearing disappeared too, and biked to work. I was too humiliated to ask if anyone had picked up my shorts – I was willing to lose them to keep the whole incident quiet. At the end of the day, the girl with the locker next to mine holds up my shorts. “Whose are these? I just found them in my locker.”

Lesson learned. Always pick up your stuff. What about you – ever learned a lesson the hard way?


I blog when I have something to say, not on a set schedule. Make sure you don’t miss any posts by subscribing using the box below to have updates arrive in your inbox. I would love to meet and chat, find me on Facebook here.

“It would be different if one had tried to tell the whole truth. That would have some value.” – Ernest Hemingway

“A woman is like a teabag – you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” Eleanor Roosevelt


  1. says

    I have learned far too many lessons the hard way, but, I got nothing to compare with this. All I can say is, lady, you rock. it takes guts to do what you did, and even more to share it. Thanks for the story and the smiles. You are my hero.

  2. says

    sorry for your embarrassment, but it was a good chuckle at 7 am in Calgary. lots of embarrassing moments in my life (wearing my gym shorts inside out at the gym, or falling out of the car when my hubby turned a corner) but those are all stories best left for another time. have a great day – you’ve made mine better lisa

  3. says

    Oh, you brave soul! *giggle* We always say “what did people do before cell phones?” Now I know…they rode their bike home half naked! Thanks for sharing this with us, this would make a really good scene in a romantic comedy :-)

  4. says

    OMG that is hilarious! I can’t believe you went ahead and rode your bike home, that took some pluck!

  5. says

    It’s funny now – but it took me 2 years to be able to tell my husband what happened. This is definitely on the top 10 list of embarrassing moments…it’s right up there with publicly insulting some neo-Nazi’s – but that’s another story.

  6. says

    Oh wow so cringing! I’m trying to figure out what I would have done! I have no idea.
    Thanks for sharing Lisa 😉

  7. says

    OMG! I have no idea what I would have done, but I’m sure it would have involved tears. I’m almost too horrified by my own imagined embarrassment to laugh. Almost 😉 Thank you for sharing!

  8. Heather says

    Great story. You show grit in spite of being mortified. Press on McDuff. :)

  9. says

    My butt is cold just from reading ths, but LOL! How awful at the time – and what a great story later! Thanks for giving me a smile to start the day.

  10. says

    Too funny, Lisa. As one who embarrasses easily, I feel your pain and humiliation. But still … it is incredibly funny. :)

    In eighth grade, someone in class started passing around a note with a joke about sex on it. Don’t remember the joke but I do remember that I was the one caught holding the note. The teacher dragged me up to the front of the room, read it out loud, then proceeded to mercilessly ridicule me. Sheesh.

  11. says

    Well Lisa, I think you get the “most humiliating moment” award!

    And of course the husband would not notice the way you walked in, so typical! Or could that be because you walk around in your panties all the time? lol

    I will confess that I did have a similiar experience once. I took off running through our neighborhood naked! But…I was only two at the time. So I don’t think that really counts.

    Great post Lisa! My husband and I laughed our heads off!

    And thank you for all your support!

  12. says

    Ack! Is it wrong to be very, very glad this happened to you and not to me? Good for you for brazening out the ride home.

  13. says

    Yikes!!! How does this stuff happen?? (And no, I’ve never ridden a bike through town in my panties — nor am I going to share my most embarrassing moment!!) Loved the post, Lisa. You’re a woman who lets nothing stand in her way, hmmmmm? Good for you!

  14. says

    Too funny!!! Thanks for the laugh Lee. Loved it! I “might” be able to top it. Did I tell you what I did recently? Well, let’s just say if you’re going to walk around naked in your house, remember to put your blinds down!!! LOL!!!

  15. says

    Hehe. And to think you’ve now announced to the world what you wouldn’t tell your husband for years. Why is it that things seem so much less embarrassing when we tell a group of people and can laugh about it with them?

    I have to say that in that situation I wouldn’t have called any of my extended family because I still haven’t lived down the time I almost set the tablecloth on fire during Christmas dinner. I’d never ever live down losing my shorts.

  16. says

    I sit here trying really hard not to laugh because I know you wanted to stay under the covers in that bed for the rest of your life, but I just can’t help the giggles from escaping!
    I applaud your bravery and courage to face such a situation with as much dignity as you did. It may have been humiliating back then, but at least you know now that no matter what the challenge, you will persevere – with or without your shorts!
    Thank you for sharing this,


  17. Wendy says

    Your sister in law probably would have picked you up. Or at least brought you pants.

    • says

      I barely knew my then-rebellious s-i-l – I’d been married less than a year. Not the impression I had hoped to start a new friendship with :)

  18. says

    Most of my lessons were learned the hard way. Fortunately not THAT way! Here’s hoping there’s never a situation that would allow you to top it. :)

  19. says

    Oh my gosh, that is soooooooo embarrassing. All I can say is, yes, thank God you weren’t wearing a thong! I had to laugh out loud while reading this. It’s so late, I can’t think of an embarrassing moment, but I’ve had plenty. I don’t know that I have any that could top this, though!

  20. says

    Oh Lisa! I have been meaning to get to this post for some time now. I can’t imagine how I would have felt. I think I would have cried like Jessica, totally mortified at the situation. Of course, years later, look at what a great post it has made for your blog! I feel your pain. I can’t believe your husband went two years without knowing. You needed to clue him in girl! :)

  21. Diana says

    I don’t know if you’ll get this comment, Lisa, my email sends some of my email to my spam file, and since I get 90% or more of your posts in my regular inbox I never looked for any in my spam pile. I found Biking in Panties there. ROTFLOL. I loved it. And I’m not nice, I guess; I guffawed out loud thru the whole thing. But you made my day. Spunky to do it, and spunky to share.

    One of my most embarrassing moments was at age 6 forgetting to wear any panties at all under my dress. That was an eternally long and mortifying day and I remember it all 51 years later. (There is a reason for the word embarrassing. Literally. At first I spelled it embarassing. Must have been Freudian)

    Other more embarrassing moments, which I won’t share. But as my mother used to say, you’ll laugh about this one day. (She forgot and walked outside one day to get something off her bike because it started to rain.) Must be something about bikes…

  22. says

    I totally needed this laugh today! I burst out thinking about you going back the next day pretending like nothing had happened. That is so me!!! I can’t imagine riding a bike in panties — uncomfortable!!!
    Positively Alene recently posted…craving results is tiring.

  23. says

    Lisa – That was a riot. You have guts girl. So, didn’t know we also shared being directionally challenged.

    I think I was embarrassed once when my son who was about 4 at the time came out of the bathroom with brand new Kotex pads stuck all over himself. That’s kinda hard to pretend you don’t notice.

    Or the time we were on a bus and he was about 3. We walked down the aisle to get a seat when out of Nathan’s mouth came the words, “Did you see the nose on that guy!!” Of course he yelled it. And I? I just turned a deep color red.

  24. marilyn says

    Underware story? Sure I have one. Well, my Mom has one. It goes like this. The year is 1939, war, depression–rubber shortage. My mom is 10 years old walking home from school wearing a dress because everyone wore dresses in those days. Are you ahead of me? Yep, you guessed it: panties fell off. OFF!

  25. Kathi Gowsell says

    Very funny, LIsa. I’ve had bad dreams like this!


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