The brief on underpants

Underpants – a comic masterpiece of a word. Just try maintaining a serious tone when saying the word “underpants.” In Britain you can’t even say “pants” without getting a clever-clever rejoinder. For them, pants are garments worn under trousers.

The German word for panties is “panties,” which when pronounced with a German accent sounds very, very naughty.

It’s difficult to know how to frame the argument about underpants. Boxers or briefs? Surely this is a false dichotomy. To me, boxers just don’t do the trick. They feel like shortie pajamas.

Unless you are seriously underweight, jockey briefs will chafe and bind. In the male the connection twixt thigh and torso is already cluttered. There simply isn’t room for bunches of cloth.

I’m not arguing that we should all “go commando.” Underpants offer a beneficial buffer to sharp stitches and creases inside trousers.

Women who wear thong panties solve this problem in the most uncomfortable way imaginable. How can they stand to walk the streets tortured by a constant wedgie? A scold’s bridle or chastity belt would be less punishing.

Male bikinis barely cover the topic.

Aren’t bikini underpants for men another conspiracy designed to make us all buy French fashion products? Honestly, does a real guy need fragrance, facial foundation, designer luggage or a man purse?

A man needs to support his parts. He owes them that much. Like participles, testicles should not be dangling. Neither should they be tucked up tight like a ladyboy. Body heat causes ache – the dreaded blue balls of yesteryear – not to mention decreases sperm count.

Personally I like the Calvin Klein boxer brief, the greatest sartorial invention of the 20th century. They offer kind support without unsettling the groin.

As for color, Russell Baker said that underwear, like bed sheets and dinner plates, should be white.

7 Responses to “The brief on underpants”

  1. Jennie June 8, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    Perfectly stated, my dear Mr. Henry. And for all those who choose to wear boxers and wear their pants below their bottoms, your stuff is going to stretch so much that the old song “Do your boys hang low” will be your theme song.

  2. Snuze June 8, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    I have never gave much thought to male unmentionables; this is a very good education for me *grin*.

    But why only white? Except for men who have proclivities to wearing transparent trousers, why can they not indulge in colours in the privacy of their pants?

  3. Cara June 9, 2010 at 6:19 am #

    German does make a difference between male and female underwear, men would never wear “panties” (Höschen), but “Unterhosen” (which is just the same as underpants). A very nice false friend in English – German similiar sounding words is “slip”, in German a “slip” is a small pair of panties, and you could also call panties “Schlüpfer”, which actually is quite close to “slip”, since it’s a garment you slip on.

  4. ChaChaheels June 9, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    There’s a “do your boys hang low?” version of that song? It’s taken me a long time to find that out! The world of men is indeed mysterious.

  5. Mr. Henry June 9, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Thanks, Cara, for your notes on the mysteries of German. Not being a German speaker myself, the language is continual source of confusion and humor. “Slip,” I believe, is borrowed from French, so once again German borrowed a foreign word for an unmentionable.

  6. BBC June 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Have you overlooked ‘smart underpants’? The latest thing…..

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100610/lf_nm_life/us_underpants_health

  7. Audrey June 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    I don’t know when I have laughed so hard lately! Thanks for that!
    I especially loved the comment about thong underwear!

    Audrey