Flavin's Corner
11-12-99

Time To Box

     I've never been notably adept when it comes to doing my laundry.  Oh, once
a week I'll gather my dirty clothes and trek to a local laundromat, but it's how I
wash that's caused me years of grief (and ruined some fav items, as well).  As I
employ the "boil 'n bake" method, I often discover my clothes are two sizes
smaller after cleaning.  It was just such an unexpected, recent shrinkage of a pair
of my Star Wars underwear which prompted my considering a change from
briefs to boxers.  I mean, honestly, ...boxers are designed with a looser cut and
would likely withstand more trips to the laundromat than briefs.  I could, were I
not so stubborn, simply pay attention to how I wash my clothes, but that would
be the easy way out.  It's time to box...

     There is another choice, other than briefs and boxers, and that's the mystical
"unionsuit" worn by Mormons.  This week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah, R), a
Mormon who admits to always wearing the "sacred garments," has declared
himself a candidate for the presidency.  Would he wear them in the White House
if elected?  Probably, as the "sacred garments" have Masonic symbols
embroidered on them, and everyone knows that supernatural underwear is much
better than any ol' pair of drawers.  In a 60 Minutes interview, San Francisco
49er quarterback, Steve Young (the great-great-great-grandson of the early
Mormon leader, Brigham Young), admits he takes them off before playing
football, as "the sweating and so forth" goes against the "sacred nature" of the
garment.  Whoa!  Okay, ...back to briefs and boxers! [Click here for more on
Hatch's candidacy and here for a transcript of the 60 Minutes interview.]

 
Mormon underwear.

     As early humans spread out from Africa, c.200,000 to 100,000 years ago,
they encountered environments which necessitated the invention of clothes.  For
many years, despite mythic accounts of fashionable fig-leafs, the wearing of
animal skins was the only response to cold or inclement weather (though the
practice does continue to this day among the Gap-black leather jacket crowd).
The discovery that the twisting together of plant fibers produces a fabric
material, capable of holding a shape, was probably first used to make ropes and
nets, but shortly thereafter the "textile" technology was applied to make cloth
used for blankets, shawls, etc.  It was a boon to the study of prehistory when
investigators encountered Ötzi, the Neolithic "Iceman" from the Ötztaler Alps,
wearing shoes and clothes which he probably made himself.  It's not known how
Ötzi washed his clothes, though the suggestion has been advanced that he either
used the "boil 'n bake" method or ...just made new clothes and threw the dirty
ones away. [Click  here to view a cotton loincloth from Peru, c.1500 BCE.]

     In warmer parts of the world it's always been customary to get away with
wearing as little as possible, unless you're in the desert and are covering up to
avoid sunstroke, or are a female in an Islamic country and risk murder if you
expose so much as a part of your arm.  Much of the "classical" world (here
meaning the Mediterranean area, the Near East, and North Africa) attired
themselves in a loincloth (read: underwear) and toga, or tunica.  Oh, depending
on how much money a person had or if it was a special occasion, maybe two
togas (different colors and one on top of the other), or a mantle or shoulder
garment, was also worn, but ...it all pretty much came down to the loincloth
with some fancy blankets worn over it.  Ah, those simple days!

     From the Tarim Basin in the east, across the northern climes to the British
Isles in the west, there's ample evidence of an early invention of pants (Ötzi's, for
example), and it would be safe to guess a Neolithic horizon of c.6000 BCE, near
the beginnings of agriculture, for such an introduction.  Pants, or trousers (from
the Scots Gaelic triubhas), were probably independently invented by a number of
ancient peoples, wherever the climate required it, though some limited diffusion
is entirely possible. [Click here for a wonderful page on ancient Viking "tunics"
and how to make your own!]

     As innovation introduced new methods for manufacturing clothes, at some
point (I'm thinking of blaming those cavalier troubadours and trouvères in Spain
and France, 11th through 13th centuries CE) fashion usurped function and
women's clothing began its delightful progression toward perpetual absurdity.
As underwear became an industry quite separate from outerwear, women's ...ah,
unmentionables, developed into an art-form, a unique practice which I regard
(after the invention of the acrophonic alphabet and the decimal place system of
notation) as one of the hallmarks of civilization.  However, in as much as every
new Victoria's Secret catalog is a cause for celebration, ...the sad and simple fact
of men's underwear is ..we're still wearing variations of loincloths!  I mean, that's
okay!  It's not like I need smooth silk rubbing against my...  Okay, ...major
rewrites needed here!  I've got no complaints, most guys don't, and we're fine
with wearing loincloths.  Moving on...

     Male underwear, like its female counterparts, are worn for support, to
provide a clothing layer to facilitate either cooling or warming, and to guard
outerwear clothes from ...any possible ...accidents.  Unlike various feminine
unmentionables, male underwear is purposely manufactured simple, plain, rather
boring, and typically only viewed by a mother, wife, or a nurse at a hospital
who's checking to make sure you've obeyed your mother and are wearing clean
underwear.  Recently some manufacturers have begun to market male
underwear for "every occasion..." [Click here for Hanes, here for Fruit of the
Loom, and here for a cheap loincloth.]

 
Click pic for more...

     As I approach Y2K and my 42nd birthday, I find myself taking a daily aspirin
for my heart, a multivitamin for overall good health, and more fiber than usual
for my mild case of defecaloesiophobia...  I'm also concerned with certain
comforts, will probably compromise between briefs and boxers, and soon begin
to purchase "boxer-briefs."  The Mormon "unionsuit" is tempting though, as
those Masonic symbols are kind of cool, and dabbling in the occult after a few
drinks has always been fun.  I guess I could always try E-Bay and just keep a
"unionsuit" around the house for casual wear...

staying off the ropes,
Rick

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