Why, Oh Y-Front? The Men's Underwear Explosion
I have spent the last few days staring at men's crotches.
In department stores and online I have been scrutinizing underwear, pondering the confusing explosion of choice in men's underpants. Have men's crotches really changed that much in the last 10 or 20 years that it should be so hard to find the Y-fronts of my youth?
It used to be that the American male had to answer one simple question (and, please, by all means, answer it):
Then the same impulse that gave us 1.6 million latte combinations infected the underwear world. When I was at the Macy's in Wheaton yesterday, I was confronted with such a startling array of choices I had to make sure I wasn't in the women's department.
This all started when some mad genius created the "boxer-brief." I can imagine him in the top chamber of a castle, a pair of tighty-whities on one stainless steel table, a pair of loose-fitting plaid cotton boxers on another, the two joined by an array of wires and tubes. Outside, lightning rends the air. The inventor throws a switch and there's the smell of ozone and singed fabric. The result: an unholy union, not quite boxer, not quite brief. Dr. Jockey shimmies into his still-warm creation, then shouts, "It's alive! It's alive!"
Even the more traditional undergarments have evolved in strange ways. The "pouch" seems to be an important, if disturbing, feature of 21st-century men's underwear. And by my estimate, half the selections no longer open at the front. Talk about your no-fly zones. Does today's man no longer need to urinate? Or are we expected to do it like women? Even worse, though, are buttons on briefs. Buttons! What kind of abomination is that?
Then there are the color and fabric choices. Just as Henry Ford would let customers have a Model T in any color they liked, so long as it was black, so men's underwear used to be available only in white. There was something unpleasantly European about colored underwear.
The scene in "The Fully Monty" when the various would-be strippers pulled down their trousers, exposing hues and patterns more suited for drapes, told you everything you needed to know about Thatcher's Britain. But that same choice is now available in the United States. "Ruby," "gulf blue" and "grey heather" are just some of Jockey's offerings. As for fabrics, microfibers seem to be hot. I'm sorry, but it's the rare man who will admit to having microfibers down there.
Is the Jockey Web site safe for work? I suppose so, as long as you don't spend too much time moving your cursor around and enlarging the photos. The customer comments make for weird reading, though. That's where men review the underwear.
For example, "Kevin" from Orlando says of the Elance bikini briefs: "I wore these in the late 80's and loved them, but I switched to boxers and never went back. I recently bought two packs of them and fell in love all over again!" Ah, isn't that sweet? "Tim the Realtor" from Maryland loves his Elance Boxer Briefs: "I am a Realtor and Auto Adjuster, so I am in and out of houses and sometimes under cars, they never get bunched up!" Good for you, Tim!
I don't even want to know what's going on with Stamford's "A mature young man," who wrote of his Modern Classics Boxer Brief: "I am 17 years old & truly appreciate this brief. I am wearing them right now. That is all I am wearing right now!"
What's even weirder is that you can send in a photo of yourself wearing the underwear, as "Mark H." from New York did.
It's enough to make a man go commando.
Here's this week's image:
Be the first to e-mail the correct name to me at email@example.com and you'll win a Post Pulitzer winner's autograph. (Thanks to David Stinson for the historic postcard.)
January 12, 2009; 9:31 AM ET
| Tags: contest, polls, underwear
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