Four steps into the entrance of the downtown Hyatt, I noticed a small run in my pantyhose. I took a deep breath, which was difficult considering I’d bound my midsection with no less than four layers of figure-enhancing spandex, and tried to channel a festive attitude toward my husband’s command holiday party.

Holding onto Francis’ arm like an invalid, I limped to the elevators with great difficulty, as the “Comfort Series” pumps I’d bought for the occasion pinched with every step. In the mirrored elevator, I noticed that the concealer I’d applied under my eyes in the minivan was two shades too light, giving me the look of a startled barn owl.

The dress I’d purchased in haste on a T.J. Maxx clearance rack did not look as flattering as it had in the store’s dressing room. Furthermore, the uncomfortable layers of underwear, control top pantyhose, Spanx, back-fat-reducing camisole and underwire bra was only making me feel like an overstuffed bratwurst ready to burst from its gut casing.

As I hobbled out of the elevator toward the ballroom, Francis’ demeanor suddenly changed. Like Clark Kent, he transformed from a man who wears black socks in his recliner while scratching himself and watching “King of Queens” reruns, into “Captain Molinari,” ready to leap tall buildings with a single bound. As much as I wished I could turn into Cat Woman and leap out the window, I staggered along as Captain Molinari’s pudgy sidekick with bad feet and a cheap dress.

I made a beeline to the bar for a little liquid courage, but Francis delayed my mission to introduce me to various co-workers. “Great to meet you,” I’d say, while my mind raced to think of something interesting to say.

In the buffet line, I fought the urge to elbow colleagues out of the way to get my share of the Mediterranean chicken, only to find that it was rubbery and bland. Of course, I ate it anyway, along with a heaping plate of tiramisu, cream puffs, cheesecake and marshmallows dipped in chocolate fondue. I could almost hear the creak of my undergarments, stressed to their maximum capacity.

After the plates were cleared, I thought I was holding my own among the muckety-mucks at our table. But then, the Admiral’s wife signaled to me to wipe my face. Apparently, there was a large splotch of fondue chocolate dripping down my double chin.

I excused myself to the ladies room, not only to relieve bladder pressure, but to take a breather from social pressure, too. The young female sailor who’d just won the best-dressed competition entered the stall right next to me.

There’s nothing more equalizing than succumbing to one’s bodily functions mere inches away from another human being. We flushed in tandem and met at the sinks to wash our hands. I broke the awkward silence by complimenting her lovely violet gown. She returned the compliment, an obvious obligatory gesture. I let her off the hook by joking, “I’m so packed into this dress, I almost knocked on your stall to ask if you’d help me get my Spanx back up.”

By the time I returned to our table, the dance floor was dotted with a few brave souls gyrating to modern beats. Suddenly, the DJ called “Captain Molinari and his wife” to the dance floor to compete in the Salsa competition. Francis and I had never learned how to do the Electric Slide, much less Latin Salsa dancing, and I’d felt the pain of my husband’s size 11 quadruple E foot during our feeble attempts over the years. But Francis couldn’t refuse the DJ’s request, so we salsa-ed with about as much Latin authenticity as the fried ice cream at Chi Chi’s. Mercifully, we were eliminated before the song was half over.

Later at home, while undressing in our bedroom, I joked, “Beware of flying hardware!” just before releasing the hooks and latches on my figure-enhancing undergarments. Finally, in my flannel PJs and under the sheets, I was relieved that I’d not only survived the pressure those torturous trusses had put on my internal organs, I’d also made it through another Command Holiday Party and lived to tell the tale.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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