Riley Gordon was the biggest jerk I ever knew.

But I do have him to thank for introducing me to the Don't Mention Panties Game.

The legendary and unstoppable Godzilla had just traipsed through the city I live in, and my apartment was among the casualties, so I was having to live with Riley until the insurance company could work out some way to phrase 'act of radioactive monster'.

We had been thrown out of one of my favourite bars for being improperly dressed, and the two of us were now staggering through the back alleys looking for somewhere to change. It was Riley's idea that we both wear the matching pink ballgowns, and I really don't remember why I went along with it. I suspect he had been slipping things in my drinks.

"My hem is trailing in the puddles," I whined.

"Shut up," he replied.

I shutted up. After another twenty minutes, he suddenly stopped at the mouth of an alley, stared at the moving traffic, and reacted as if he'd just remembered something.

"Hey," he said. "You wanna do something fun?"

"What, more fun than running around shady alleys at night wearing matching pink ballgowns?"

"Come with me," he said, leading me back into the alley.

We didn't speak again until we arrived at a large wooden door at the rear of a menswear shop, and for a moment I thought that perhaps we were going to get some trousers. Instead, he led me into a murky basement, where several rough-looking gentlemen were waiting. They all turned at our appearance, and watched Riley expectantly. I narrowed my eyes and stared at him. He was definitely some kind of ringleader.

"Gentlemen," he said, folding his arms under the padded bosom of his dress. "Welcome to Don't Mention Panties Club. The first rule of Don't Mention Panties Club is, you do not talk about Don't Mention Panties Club. The second rule of Don't Mention Panties Club is, you DO NOT talk about Don't Mention Panties Club."

I wondered who the hell Riley thought he was as he listed his rules. By the time he'd gone through "when someone says panties, or any word meaning panties, the game is over" and "if this is your first night at Don't Mention Panties Club, you have to play", I only knew what I thought Riley was: A jerk.

Whatever Don't Mention Panties was, it was clearly popular among rough types with too much money to spend. As two chairs were set up and two fellows sat opposite each other, quite a few bets were being placed. Riley took them, counting through the money and stashing it away in the folds of his dress.

The two men took off their shirts and shoes, and silence fell. I sneaked over to Riley and whispered to him.

"Why aren't there any women here?" I asked.

"Unfair advantage," was the reply.

I wondered what he meant by that, but I couldn't make any more enquiries, as a bizarre chant had been taken up. Everyone in the damp cellar except the two combatants was saying "panties" over and over again while slowly clapping their hands. They began to speed up, their clapping becoming deafening applause, until Riley yelled "Stop!" and silence fell once again. "Play," he commanded, after a brief pause.

"There," said one of the men.

"Once," said the other.











The players went on like this, reciting an endless list of words, while the crowd looked on silently. It seemed to me that both players were doing their best to sneak in as many words beginning with 'pan' as possible. Whenever either of them did so, the crowd would murmur in awe like an audience watching a professional snooker player prepare a very difficult shot for his opponent. It was as if they were executing extremely complicated strategies.

Eventually, sweat began to break out on their foreheads, and it took only ten minutes after that for one of them to snap.

"Who," said one player.

"Pant - Put," stammered the other.

"Pancakes," said the first player, going in for the kill.

"P - In,"



As soon as the player realised the word that came out of his mouth, he buried his head in his hands and the crowd erupted into deafening cheers. Riley began handing out large sums of money to those who bet on the winner, while the others berated the sulking loser.

Many games of Don't Mention Panties were played that night. Sometimes there were four or five games on the go at once, and everyone present played at least three times. I took part once, but all could see I was a newcomer. No bets were placed, and I was easily beaten by my more experienced opponent. Riley himself played six full times, and whenever he did, I noticed something odd.

Riley never lost.

Every single game he played ended the same way: his opponent sweating after only five minutes, Riley sitting relaxed at a slight angle in his delightful ballgown. Riley's matches always commanded the highest audience, but few people bet, as the outcome was always a foregone conclusion. It was always just a joy to see the master at work.

It wasn't until the fifth game that I realised how Riley did it.

His opponent was a large, bald man who the others referred to as 'Martha'. The game had been going on for a whole hour. Martha was definitely showing signs of stress, but Riley remained extremely cool and collected, sitting cross-legged in his chair.

"And," said Martha.

"Put," said Riley.







There was a killer pause, and I noticed it. No-one, least of all me, had realised that Riley had hitched his skirt up to his knees. It just seemed a natural thing to do. And as he delivered the word that could conceivably be followed by 'panties', it happened.

He uncrossed his legs, then swiftly re-crossed them the other way round.

"Panties!" blurted Martha, unable to stop himself. And the crowd went wild.

I should have known a jerk as big as Riley wouldn't stop at just wearing the woman's dress. He had to be wearing women's underwear, too. Now I understood what 'unfair advantage' meant.

It was the start of a very long night.


It later transpired that Riley was actually an aspect of my own personality, but we have come to terms with that.

And I still think he's a jerk.

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