Women have always loved lingerie; women love lingerie sales even more.  Andrea Boekel braved a battlefront waged in a lingerie shop in Colombo recently.  Who emerged the victor remains the question!

An epic battle was waged recently; not in the scrub jungles or open plains…not on hilly terrain or rocky ground.  No.  The fury was unleashed in a shop – a lingerie shop to be precise, located in a leafy suburb of Colombo.

I was an involuntary participant in this duel for supremacy.  The challenge thrown was the enticing advertisements that appeared in the local newspapers about the impending grand event.  Adding appeal to the advertisements was the proclamation that up to 70 per cent discounts on the items were on offer.  The items in question were lingerie and the event – a stock clearance sale.

It is no secret that women like lingerie. While men often like to see women wearing lingerie, women enjoy wearing lingerie even more. Good lingerie can make a woman feel alluring, no matter what she is wearing on the outside. Inside, she knows that she is wearing pretty lingerie and it gives her confidence. The feeling of confidence is just one reason why women like lingerie.

My intention, on the other hand, was to snap a bargain rather than keep to the norms of the sisterhood.  I made my way to the store that morning in breathless anticipation.  The ‘sale’ was supposed to start at 9 am. I was there at 8.30 am and the queue was snaking its way up to Duplication Road.  I looked at the faces of the womenfolk of Sri Lanka in the winding queue. They belonged to pretty young fillies, ambitious career climbers, ethereal model-like nymphs, portly matrons and even the odd senior citizen.  What scared me was the steely, determined look in their eyes and the flexed shoulders ready to run to the battlefront when the doors of the store opened.  I almost gave up. I knew I could never match the resolute fighting spirit of this gaggle of women, but decided against it.

The queue grew longer and we were now exposed to the burning hot sun.  There were umbrellas hoisted, handbags and other items were used to shut the sun’s rays out and animated discussions were held about the merchandise on sale.  There was the occasional queue jumper that hastily withdrew when several irate female voices pointed out that there was no room for a queue jumper.  Several pairs of expectant eyes were focused on the closed gate.  At the slightest rattle of the gate, the eyes would turn in hopeful anticipation.  As the minutes passed and everyone kept consulting their watches to wait for the momentous opening, I could not help being amused.  The appeal of a lingerie sale united the womenfolk of the city in the most unlikely way and I was a part of it.

Just after 9 am the murmurs about the scorching sun became quite loud, but they were suddenly stilled by the sound of the vibrating gate.  The gates opened and I suddenly found myself in a stampede that would have made the most ferocious bull proud.  I was knocked to the ground and a large stiletto grazed my ankle as I tried to pick myself up.  Whoosh – the throng of women rushed towards the gate as I gazed in disbelief.  Suddenly, I realized that I had better join the pack too if I was to make any gain from my wait in the queue braving the blazing sun.  Picking myself up, I rushed arms akimbo to wherever the crowd pushed me.

All I could feel was the rustle of female clothes, the scent of perfume and the pushing and shoving in every direction possible.  Coming to my senses I found myself in a garage-like space with several boxes of lingerie grouped by sizes.  Pushing, tripping, heaving and cursing I leaned against this mass of humanity until I could locate a box with the size of smalls I was looking for.

Ambition is one thing but putting it into practice is another. By the box that I wanted to examine were several frenzied female forms bent over.  The lucky one was in front of the box bending over, throwing merchandise in every direction possible. Lucky female No. 2 was placed directly behind her, leaning against her with her arms valiantly reaching for the recesses of the box.  I was Female No. 3 positioned behind Female No. 2, praying that the Lucky One would finish and move away elevating me up the pecking order.

I had every kind of lingerie thrown into my face. A bra strap even made its way around my ear. As I gingerly picked panties from my face and head, thrown by ladies rummaging through the boxes, I literally laughed out loud.  I found the whole exercise not only hilarious but extremely challenging.

After several minutes of leaning, heaving and reaching for the box that contained the merchandise I wanted, I was finally directly in front of it.  Bending over I tried valiantly to find something I liked, and grabbing two items in one hand I kept rummaging through the boxes.  Behind me, there were other ladies leaning heavily but I was determined.

Through this flurry, I suddenly noticed a hand poking through this mass of humanity by my elbows.  I could not see who it belonged to, but it was very cheeky.  The hand suddenly started grabbing my merchandise.  An all-out tussle began and I was tugging at my items.  The hand was grabbing it forcefully and it went on this way for several seconds.  I could not even turn around to see who this hand belonged to. I was holding on to my purchases for dear life.

Unable to control this frenzied “hand”, I knew that I had to do something drastic.  Holding tight onto my merchandise, I gave the Hand a big pinch.  It retreated in defeat.  I heaved a sigh of relief.  My purchases were still in my battered hand and I knew that I was definitely not a contestant in this battle.

I shoved my way out of this teeming mass of estrogen and somehow in a trance made my way to the cashier counter.  My arms were bruised, my hand was definitely going to be out of commission for the day, my feet had been trod upon, my hair was a mess and I was sweating profusely.  Much as I would have loved to look at the other boxes, I knew that I was a rookie at lingerie sales and had a way to go.

For sure the appeal of lingerie to women is timeless. It is used to improve what are often seen as flaws in the figure of a woman. However, attending a lingerie sale that promises 70 per cent off the retail price is not for the faint-hearted.  The advertisements should come with a statutory warning and that is only for those who have true grit.