March 19, 1999
I had an experience earlier this week - the kind
that every man finds very traumatic.
I had to throw out some of my underwear.
The worst part was that they were only seven or
eight years old. They were hardly broken in.
I'm thinking about writing a letter to the
Women don't understand that men have a very
close relationship to their underwear. It's the
result of having them around year after year.
Women never have that problem. Unless it's the
sexy stuff that men buy them for Valentines' and
never again see the light of day, they never have
their underwear around long enough to get attached
For example, my wife's morning routine is
exactly the same every day: Get up. Open a new
package of four dollar panty hose. Immediately put
your thumb through them. Throw them out. Start
Her evening routine is: Come home from work.
Take off the panty hose she caught on the corner of
her desk at 9:05 am. Throw them out on top of the
ones she ruined that morning.
If men wore panty hose (I mean, most men) you
could be sure that within weeks they'd be built to
last. Like our underwear, men would expect to get
a half dozen years out of a single pair before you
even thought about tossing them out
Which brings me back to my own recent
When a man stops dating and no longer lives in
fear of being rushed to the hospital in substandard
underwear, he tries to get as much life out of his
undies as he can.
Usually a man's last bulk underwear purchase was
during bachelor days - and that was just to make
sure he didn't run out between monthly trips to the
For those of us who settle down, it's pretty
much downhill from there, underwear-wise. Having
your wife buy them is a little too much like being
a kid and your mother getting you ready for camp.
And men just won't buy them for themselves.
I love clothes shopping. I don't even blink
(OK, maybe I blink a little) at an $50 tie, but
will I pick up a four dollar pair of underwear?
My last underwear purchase was made out of sheer
desperation. The holes in my seat were making me
feel like an extra on CBC's The Wind at My Back. I
even found some on sale, but do you think I'd buy a
second package? No - somehow it seemed extravagant.
Maybe - I thought rationalizing my inaction -
I'd buy some the next time I'm in the United
States. Everyone knows cotton is cheaper there. I
could probably save a dollar a pair.
The problem with men's underwear is that they
make the waistband too well. The rest of the
underwear eventually dissolves into a few strands
of gray cotton, but as long as the waistband still
has some snap in it, they'll keep going into the
laundry and not the garbage.
But now I have three new pairs of underwear. I
can boldly face the millennium or unexpected trips
to the hospital.
And later, when I feel up to it, there are some
socks in my dresser drawer with scalped heels that
I've only had since the 80s.
I'm beginning to worry they may only have a few