My wife is weird.

Not dangerous weird, like the wives we hear about on true crime shows who kill their husband and feed him to neighbors in a casserole. She’s just normal weird.

I walked into the bedroom one morning to find her pulling on something that could have been a medieval torture device if Europeans had invented spandex instead of the Iron Maiden.

“What is that?” I asked.

Usually, I’m smart enough to remain stupid about the lives of women. They exist in a strange, terrifying world that involves makeup and chocolate instead of beards and baconnaise. But I was curious.

“Spanx,” she said, like I should have known.

I didn’t.


“Spanx,” she repeated.

“Well, OK,” I said. “But we’ll need to shut the door. The kids don’t need to see this.”

Apparently, I’d misunderstood.

“It’s tummy sculpting underwear.”

Sculpting? “Is there a chisel involved?”

She shooed me out the door.

Tummy sculpting underwear? If I didn’t know better (which I didn’t), I’d think she was wearing a girdle.

History doesn’t pinpoint exactly when men started changing the shape of women’s figures, but it looks like the first device, a wide woven belt, was used in ancient Babylon. Women wore these tummy-tightening devices to increase fertility by looking like a Kardashian instead of an actual human.

Ancient Babylonia guy: “Hey, Zirratbanit, I love the way your midsection doesn’t exist. Let’s make 1,000 babies.”

Ancient Babylonia girl: “Oh, Ammi-Zaduga, you’re as easy to read as cuneiform.”

Compared to today’s preferred flirting method of tapping words into a smartphone without anyone ever looking at each other, Mesopotamian courting was quaint.

The corset, a garment fitted with bones and steel that went from chest to hips, was popular during a time when people apparently didn’t need to breathe. The corset became popular in 1550s France when Queen Catherine dé Medici wanted every woman in her court to have a waist the size of a small poodle’s.

The girdle, sort of a flexible corset that never killed anyone, came next and became so common in the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s that moms bought girdle trainers for their preteen girls.


And my wife was in one, but like every woman from the beginning of time who wanted to alter her appearance, she didn’t need to.

“Are you wearing a girdle?” I asked when she emerged from the bedroom in a nice dress. “Isn’t that a bit Postwar America of you?”

“It’s not a girdle,” she said. “And I like to think of myself as a shapeshifter.”

A shapeshifter?

“You mean, like a werewolf?” I asked, wondering if we had any silver in the house. “Are you saying you’re a werewolf?”

“No, but technically it is supposed to shift my shape. And shapeshifter sounds way more badass than wearing a girdle.”

I paused for a second.

“Can you still use the toilet, or do I need to put down paper?”

She frowned. “Do whatever you want. I’m going to work.”

Wow. A shape-changing, girdle-wearing werewolf in my own house. I wonder what this means for our cat.

Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at