I surprise myself occasionally with my practical determination. Yesterday I weeded my underwear drawer. I feel proud.
Modesty forbids me showing you what I found. Oh, there was nothing salacious, darn it, but I had not realised to just what a state my nether garments had descended until I noted that they were starting to head for my knees while I was still wearing them. It is a daunting feeling on a railway platform if you are the sort of person who has been taught by Mother not to dig round inside your trousers in public.
Now logic tells you that once the elastic goes in your jocks that they cannot actually get to your ankles – unless you are a Scot in a kilt and in that case you may not have the problem in the first place… But trouser wearers, while saved from the ultimate horror, still feel as if they are making a public spectacle nevertheless. The waddling gait is the worst.
Logic again tells us to test the elastic of the garment each day before it is put on ( and here I am assuming that the wise man has more than one pair in the cupboard. If you only have enough for one week, the weekly wash will see you either sitting in bed until it is done and dried or going warily regimental. Not a prospect of comfort with woolen trousers or uncertain zips.
Better to keep two week’s supply and best to keep three – in case of inclement weather with no washing possible. I have counted my supply – together with fresh packs received as presents at Christmas and Father’s Day, I have 30 pairs. I could nearly clothe a centipede…
But back to the weeding. You draw the underwear through the fingers from side to side. If there is no elasticity, it must be discarded. If the bulk of the cloth has become so thin as to enable you to read a newspaper through the bum – it must go. Anything with a green stain is out, and you can spend time later pondering where you got the stain from. I need not discuss tooth marks…
And put aside any thought of further using garment for household purposes. You do not want it as a dishcloth or polishing rag, considering what it has been polishing all these years.
Years? I found that the discards had been purchased in 2014. I like to get value.
I rarely ask people to pay attention to my underwear. They are rather private garments and normally there is room in them for one person only – me. Today is different. I think I could fit about four of you in here. The reason is I have tried to go a day too long – a waistband too far…and the elastic has given up the ghost. I have had a day of especial discomfort.
Those of you who have felt the elastic go at some stage of the game know exactly what I’m writing about. All of a sudden any movement whatsoever sends your nether garments heading for the nether regions and it doesn’t make any difference if you are on parade or lounging in your boudoir – nothing feels right. If you had obeyed your cautious instinct and discarded the pair of shorts or knickers this morning – and put on the fresh pair that was sitting there in the drawer – you could stride out with confidence and pride. As it is, most of your day will be split between grimacing and excusing yourself to go to the loo in an attempt to produce a workable wedgie.
As the day progresses the vicious garment gets worse and worse. You look at your ankles to see if it has reached there and is showing under the trousers. You are convinced that it is going to entangle your knees and throw you sideways into the path of oncoming traffic. And you are also convinced that everyone sees your plight and knows what is happening. The day gets longer and the hours drag more.
The only answer is retreat. Go home at the end of the day, if you can walk while clutching your knees together. Remove the offending article. Throw it in the bin. Put on your pyjamas and make a cup of tea and a soft-boiled egg. There is no more dignity in the world for you today, and you might as well retreat into the comforts of childhood.
Wait a minute. Could it be?
Is the elastic on the pyjama bottoms going too…?
Don’t panic. This is not a sleazy attack – it is a celebration of relaxation.
I asked the two women in the house what the best moment of the day was for them – expecting some flattering response like ” Oh, it is when you come home and we see your handsome face…”. Well, it turns out that the best moment is when they get in the front door from a long day and can take off their bras.
At least they were honest.
I’ll be equally so – I’ve discovered that the best moment for the male side of the place is when I finish whatever hard work has kept me out, return home, and can get into my pyjamas or nightshirt and bathrobe. It signals the entire end of external care and an opportunity to get comfortable. Whether I choose to read a book, write a column, or fall unconscious is uncertain, but at least I will be doing it at home.
And that’s actually the fulcrum around which the whole thing turns – that word ” home “. It’s the essential ingredient in any happiness – even if it is a temporary home in a hotel room on the other side of the country. Doesn’t need much extra to make it work – a book, a television show, a cup of coffee or a drink. A chair or bed to sit on. A sense that the work is done and need not be re-commenced until tomorrow.
If you can superadd the knowledge that you have a clean set of clothes ready, a little money, and have caught up on your correspondence, you need no more.
Note: after the bra, undies, shirt, pants, and whatever come off, they need to go in the wash or the closet. Strewn around the place detracts from the happiness. And draped from the overhead fan draws nervous glances.
I have all the qualifications. A closet and a wardrobe full of old clothes.
The closet contains Secrets that would horrify Victoria. Like underwear that started off white but has become very colourful over time. And garments that have lost their elasticity faster than I lost mine. Pairs of socks that would get you arrested in rural Mississippi. Tee shirts that are holier than thou…
The wardrobe has row upon row of fashion statements – statements such as ” No.”, “NO!!”, and “Get that thing away from me.”. There are garments still in use that were purchased so long ago that the factories where they were made have been pulled down. In some cases the cities where they were made have been left in ruins and in one case the entire country disappeared. Looking at the clothing makes me think it had something to do with the disaster.
We’ve all looked at fashion purchases that we’ve made and thought; ” What was I thinking?” in my case I just add a little punctuation and it comes out better; ” What? Was I Thinking?”. Every sight of these garments is a painful one – I see myself in the store and I see me inspecting myself in the shop mirror. Then I see me handing over money to the shop assistant and them doubling up over the counter laughing. Shop assistants in clothing stores have a peculiarly penetrating laugh.
And then I see myself cleaning, ironing, and storing this stuff for the last 40 years. And here is still is. Unworn, unwrinkled, and unwearable, and I just can’t bring myself to sacrifice all that horrible investment by throwing it out.
I know I have tried. God knows I have tried. I have put it in green garbage bags and lugged it to the Salvation Army and Goodwill bins after dark and shoved it in. And you kVictoria’s Secret, underwear, socksnow what happens?
A Salvation Army lassie turns up at my door and shoves it all back in. I am lucky if she doesn’t hit upside the head with her tambourine as she leaves.