Man in the Red Underwear Chapter Thirteen

Previously: Man in the Red Underwear is a pastiche of prose and poetry with hints of parody and a dash of social satire on gender roles and class mores. Cecelia throws her annual society ball, where former lovers Andy and Bedelia meet. Andy and friends try to stop villain Malcolm Tent. Tent threatens Cecelia’s daughter Millicent.
A tapping at the window interrupted this terribly tense encounter between Tent and Millicent. Tent walked over, opened it only to find an excruciatingly plain woman wearing what looked like a costume from an American Civil War melodrama. He could not see her face because she kept flapping a fan across it.
“Is this the party with the man in the tight red underwear?” she said in a high squeaky voice.
Tent looked over his shoulder at Millicent. “I think it might be.”
She scrambled over the window sill into the library, almost knocking Tent over as she began to flounce about the room. “So bring that hunky stud! I hope his chest is bare!”
“Who invited you?” he demanded.
“You’re so rude! I know. You’re a Yankee dude!”
“Just as bad.” Molasses dripped from her Southern tongue. “You oughter watch your mouth ‘cause no one tells the Colonel’s daughter what she oughter do!
“Excuse me, ma’am, your behind is obscene. I do believe your problem is too many sweet pralines.”
(Author’s note: Yes, yes. They’ve broken into rhyme. There’s no reason for it.)
“And don’t you dare imply I’m fat, you mean old so and so,” she spit back. “You’ll find your skinny ass in boiling hot water. Don’t piss off the Colonel’s daughter!”
“Excuse me, ma’am, I don’t give a damn!”
She walked over to Millicent shaking her head. “Ooh! What he said!”

“Excuse me, lass, remove your ass!”
“Daddy’s goin’ to be so mad!”
Tent put his hands on his hips in exasperation. “Don’t you know who I am?” He put his right hand over his heart. “I am Malcom Tent, chief inspector of Scotland Yard! And I intend on arresting the Man in the Red Underwear tonight!
“So you want to see the red-hot man as eagerly as me?”
With extreme dexterity and adroitness, the person threw off the dress and wig, revealing that it was not a woman at all but indeed the Man in the Red Underwear.
Millicent pointed at Tent, tattling on him just like he were a mean little boy in school who had just pulled her pigtails. “He’s trying to blackmail me with a letter I wrote to Eddie into revealing your identity!”
“That’s not very nice.” The Man in the Red Underwear apparently was from England, as evidenced by his talent for understatement.
“So what are you going to do about it?” Tent retorted, sounding more and more like a mean little school boy.
The Man in the Red Underwear glanced to the mantle of the fireplace, noticing two crossed swords. “This!” He grabbed one of them and took a proper fencing position. “En garde!”
Tent rushed to the mantle, grabbed the other sword and took his own intimidating stance. (Please remember that these swords belonged to Sir JohnBob Snob so the worst either could inflict upon the other is maybe a little booboo which would turn black and blue the next morning.)
Millicent clapped. “Ooh, this is going to be good!” She ran to the door and swung it open. “Hey, everybody! Look here! Fight!”
“Finally! Some real entertainment!” Cecelia exclaimed.
“Quick, mother! Get our pom pons!”

Right! “Cecelia clambered up the grand staircase.
Bedelia almost spilled her rum punch. “A fight? But that’s against the law! I’m going to get Scotland Yard!”
As she ran out the front door, a lone male voice, possibly the same person who pleaded for some real food earlier, called out, “Bring back a couple bags of fish and chips!”
Tent and the Man in the Red Underwear lunged and parried their way from the library to the center of the ballroom. The orchestra broke into a rousing rendition of “When the World Was Turned Upside Down.” (This is a really obscure historical joke. Look it up and then you’ll laugh.)
“Look! Tent dramatically pointed into the crowd. Is that someone actually eating one of Lady Snob-Johnson’s canapes?”
The Man in the Red Underwear turned his head in that direction. “No! You’ll throw up!”
Tent kicked him in the rear, knocking him to the floor. “Ha ha. Fooled you.” He aimed his sword at the red-clad chest. “So ends the brief career of the Man in the Red Underwear.”

As the crowd let out a collective gasp, Millicent jumped on Tent’s back.
“Quick! To your feet!” she yelled.
In a single, graceful bolt, he was up and grabbed his sword.
“Get off my back, you silly woman!” Tent growled.
“Yes, our side must play fair even if he doesn’t,” the man in red announced.
The guests applauded politely and whispers of “Good show, very proper” made their way around the room. Millicent dismounted the inspector’s back as charmingly as possible, considering the circumstances.
Cecelia broke the brief atmosphere of civility as she slid down the bannister, her arms filled with pom pons. She tossed pairs to Millicent and Eddie. All three gathered in front of the orchestra which switched tunes and began playing the Iowa Fight Song. After all, she said they could play any song in the world, even ones that hadn’t been written yet.
Tent and the Man in the Red Underwear resumed their fencing match, while Cecelia, Millicent and Eddie went into their cheerleading routine.

We love our pretty pom pons as much as we love chocolate bon bons!
Let’s make it loud, show we’re proud by beating on our tom toms!
Gimme a red!
The crowd roared, “Red!”
Gimme a Under!
“Under!” they loudly repeated.
Gimme a Wear!
“Wear!” They almost took the roof off with that response
Put it all together and what have you got?
Red Underwear! Red Underwear! Red Underwear!
The Man in the Red Underwear shows up everywhere!
So if you’re bad and are a cad, you better beware!
Two bits!
Four bits!
Six bits a dollar!
All for red underwear
Stand up and holler!
Since they were already standing, Cecelia’s party guests jumped up and down, waving their arms in the air and grabbing each other in inappropriate places.

You got to be a dashing hero and don red underwear
If you want us to cheer for you and shake our bouffant hair!

The Man in the Red Underwear finally flipped Tent’s foil from his hand which landed at Cecelia’s feet. She quickly picked it up and investigated it to make sure no harm had befallen her family heirloom. In the meantime, the man in red held his sword at Tent’s throat and motioned for him to turn over the letter.

“Curses! Foiled again!” Reluctantly Tent pulled it from his pocket and handed it to Millicent who quickly ripped it to shreds.

“Millicent, what was in that letter?” Cecelia asked.

“Nothing, Mother.”

“It must have been something or else why all the bother?”

Millicent turned to the crowd and threw up her arms. “Come on, everybody! One more time!”

The guests joined in.

The Man in the Red Underwear shows up everywhere!
So if you’re bad and are cad, you better be aware!”

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