A Gentleman’s Under-britches

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I had to scrap my old underwear. It is something that happens every ten years or so. I just get it nicely broken in so it’s comfortable and some well-meaning but heartless soul gives me a half-dozen pairs for Christmas.

Most times I manage to keep the new stuff hidden in a drawer (once I secretly tossed them out with the wrapping paper) until my wife notices what’s left of my old ones lying in a heap on the floor. With no respect for my feelings she picks them up with a stick and fires them into the garbage. She says there is no sense washing them for dusters since there is next to nothing left to dust with. In most cases there is only the waistband and even that is so threadbare that it is next to useless for anything but dental flossing.

Admittedly when we were courting I made sure my drawers were reasonably presentable in case we were ever in a four-car pile-up and ended up side by each on matching gurneys in Soldiers’ Memorial. Believe me there is nothing more embarrassing for a woman than to hear the younger nurses and curious passers-by laughing at the state of her boyfriend’s underwear (the older nurses have seen just about everything and nothing surprises them anymore).

It’s even worse if her beloved’s mother comes in and changes him in front of half the hospital. Not that it ever happened to me. When my mom came, she pretended she didn’t know me and instead walked right on by and visited some guy in the hall who had just had a colognoscipy… columnos… kollomoska… well you know what I mean.

By the way, if you ever want to hear funny noises listen outside the door when someone is downloading after a carloanoscopy… one of those things. It’s hilarious.

It’s funny though how attached a man can get for his underwear, especially if they are a collector’s item. I once had a pair with a big ruler on the front and I loaned them to a guy in a play. He left town with my underwear. Since then every time I see a live production at a theater, I always slip back to the dressing room to check out the male actors’s underwear to see if someone is wearing mine. Needless to say, I have been banned from most theaters in the province and my reputation is in shambles.

A long time ago, I was in a play and had to appear on stage in nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. (Normally I don’t wear boxers because of a particular problem that Warren Beatty and I have.)

I had to borrow a pair from the late, great Ken Brown. Mariposa Arts Theatre couldn’t afford to buy me a new pair – or wouldn’t. I know Ken’s wife was embarrassed seeing his underwear on stage. Once the bedroom scene started, Millie pulled her coat over her head until it was over. I did hear later that at one point she took a quick peek through the arm-hole.

Why do we call one under-pant a pair anyway? Women don’t say a pair of brassiere, but she might say, “I have to go down to the thrift shop and buy a pair of pantyhose.” Granted there are two legs involved, but now we are back to the brassiere business. It’s so confusing.

But as I started out to say before I got into the technical stuff, I had to pitch my drawers. There is something about underwear that compels a man to keep them around until they simply vanish. I’m sure we have all had the experience of hanging our shorts out on the line and when we look out they’ve disappeared. Well it hasn’t happened to me, per se, but it happens all the time to some of the young ladies on our street. I know because I’ve got drawers full of them.

I suppose there is nothing abnormal about wearing your shorts until there’s nothing left but holes. However, once they get down to the elastic waistband with a few threads hanging down it’s probably time to pension them off. But a good pair of drawers shouldn’t be just tossed in the garbage. They are part of you and should be disposed of with dignity. Underwear should be burned in a solemn ceremony like a Canadian flag that has seen better days – although I wouldn’t stand downwind if I were you.

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