Do You Know What’s Under There?


The day I pulled on my first pair of boxer shorts is the day I became a Man.

I was probably 12 or so when I graduated from tighty whities (which in all probability were actually festooned with AquaMan and Scooby Doo) to what my father called “skivvies.” Those billowy boxers were my standard undergear for about 20 years (save for a, um, brief time in college when I tended to go commando: nothing between me and my 501’s).

But then I discovered a revolutionary development in men’s lingerie, the boxer brief. A revolutionary combination of boxers and jockey shorts, the boxer brief received its first skidmark around 1990, and since then has become arguably the most popular style of underwear among men who bother to wear underwear. (Which style is actually the best-seller? I don’t know. I tried to google that, but after a while the search results started to make me pretty uncomfortable.)

I still rock the traditional boxers, especially when I’m wearing jeans and I need room for the infield to shift. And the crazier the pattern, the better. My lucky boxers are decorated with martini glasses, dice, hot rods and other symbols of male freedom. They’re 100% cotton, wrinkled as Miss Daisy, and they bunch up like a flock of baby chicks do when a hawk flies overhead. But I love ‘em. They don’t do anything to “contour my curves” or to “shape my package” or any of that other stuff that guys under 40 care about. No, these boxers are as bulky as a pup tent, they’ll absorb three times their weight in bodily fluids, and they let my fuzzy dice move hither and yon, self-adjusting throughout the day. Perfect.

Bob Wire Humor Blog Missoula, Mt

I think I may be in need of professional help.

But the boxer brief has won a large chunk of real estate in my drawers drawer. They are comfortable, lightweight, and take up less space than a pair of socks. In the drawer, that is. They don’t try to insinuate themselves into your butt crack like briefs, yet they gently marshal your junk when you’re involved in intensely athletic pursuits like golf or Texas washers. Since the legs go down to mid-thigh, there’s none of that lift-and-separate business you get with tighty whities. And they come in different colors, which can be helpful when you’re trying to figure out if you’re dealing with a clean pair or not.

I’ve received underwear as gifts, and some just didn’t make the grade. Stupid design is usually the deal breaker, although I did have to ditch a perfectly reasonable pair of white boxers that were covered with bright red lipstick kisses. They were so corny they went all the way around the horn to cool. But they were given to me by my brother-in-law. Nix.

Knit boxers? Stupid idea. They have twice the fabric of briefs, but all the tendency to migrate to any crease in the flesh. And most of them have a button on the front of the fly. What the hell? Whose idea was that? The Pope? And if you’re going to be a pair of boxers, be a pair of boxers. Don’t have a knit waistband like briefs. Lame. The fabric waistband of real boxer shorts offers much better purchase, so your underwear (and consequently your pants) tends to stay up. Between the knit fabric of the faux boxer and the weak-ass knit waistband, you pants will drop faster than a Dolphins quarterback under a three-man pass rush.

Of course, for all this complaining, I have to admit that we guys have it pretty damn easy when it comes to choosing underwear. The women’s underwear industry is so devious and so powerful that it is probably being secretly run by Halliburton.

I wandered into the ladies’ lingerie department at JC Penney last month, clutching a purloined pair of Barb’s panties, looking to buy a few more copies of the same to give her for her birthday. Underwear is the only clothing I will attempt to give her as a gift. Still, it was not a simple task.

Men have three style of underwear to choose from (not counting thongs or bikini briefs, which are only worn by Europeans and plastic surgeons). Women? In JC Penney alone they have French Cut, Bikini, String Bikini, Modified Bikini, Hip Huggers, Tall Boys, Butt Clutchers, Low Riders, High Waters, Power Thongs, and a dozen other styles that only served to reinforce my ignorance about women’s underthings in general.

And the bras? Holy mother of pearl—there are underwire, wireless (5.6 gHz, I assume), padded, tricot-lined, front-loaders, racer-back, convertible strap, strapless, push-up, pull-apart (for that Marty Feldman look), and something called The 18-Hour Bra. That thing looked like it could stop a .45 hollow-point.

A sales woman took pity on me, and led me to the display where I found the women’s underwear I’d come for. I quickly bought a couple of 3-packs and high-tailed it out of there directly to Sears, where I had to stand in the tool department breathing into a paper bag for half an hour.

When I finally got my dude equilibrium back, I looked into the Penny’s bag to reassure myself that it was not a bad dream; that I’d actually bought the panties. I pulled out one of the 3-packs and read something on the label I hadn’t noticed before: “Boyshorts.”

I stood there, surrounded by Craftsman tools, feeling my face grow hot and a killer headache blooming behind my eyes. Squeezing the panties package in one hand, shaking the Penny’s bag with the other, I spread my arms wide and hollered up at the ceiling, “Damn you, Fruit of the Loom for Women! Damn you all to HELL!”

Women’s underwear is a complex scene, but after all that anguish, I have to admit that these boyshorts are quite comfortable.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


MIM NewsletterLike this blog? Don’t miss another one. Sign up for our E-Newsletter.  It provides you with a list of all the week’s stories/blogs and is delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.