It’s not the worst of it, standing with the neighbors all stopped in the late afternoon to watch as eight or nine pairs of men’s boxers float down the side of a tall building.
It’s not the worst of it, letting supper go cold upstairs to stand with the rest of them, puzzled, upturned faces fixed on the dancing underwear. Like a school of cotton jellyfish, inflating and collapsing, enjoying the cloud-strained sunlight, they tumble downward in the updraft, catching the air current.
It’s not the worst of it, to join in the rude jokes about the ways to lose all the underwear a man might own to stay fresh between laundry days.
Like the wife at her rooftop clothesline, finally fed up with laundering a clueless man’s boxers.
Or the husband on twelve, breathing curses as he counts out the infidelities of his inscrutable spouse by each unclaimed pair he finds.
Or the careless man on ten who brought home the clap and had to tell his wife.
Or the girl on nine, working her way through a faithless roommate’s wardrobe.
Or the woman on eight, discarding the creepy keepsakes of a departed lover now that her husband’s back from overseas.
It’s not the worst of it when the underwear lands, scattered across the sidewalk and in the street, giving the neighbors a good look at the casual hygiene in the deflated skivvies.
Where it starts to get worse is when someone breaks from the clot of neighbors, his back drilled by their curious eyes as he dashes into the building and sprints up the stairs to end the morbid mystery of the unoccupied boxers on Cabrini Boulevard.
But even that’s not the worst of it.
The worst of it?
Realizing they were mine.