A Gift


World seen through boxer shorts that I thought had reached the end of their life.

Do you notice something missing in the photograph above? As it was described to me, they started off as a cotton/polyester blend but after a full life of wear the cotton just gave up. A veil of man-made fibers is all that remained.

My introduction to the underpants was quite accidental. During the Summer of 2000, the Bratwursts (I have changed their name) were visiting DC and we were all staying at our friend Ethan's (name changed, too). A one bedroom apartment with only one bed forced dressing and other personal preparation be done communally. I remember coming out of the shower in a towel and moving toward my luggage in the living room. As I leaned down to get some clothes from my bag (placed to my right), something to my left raised concern (damn my peripheral vision).

Vito Bratwurst was innocently leaning over. He wore nothing but boxers as he searched for clothes for the day. A more prominent than normal crease right up the middle of the shorts added too much contrast to the back of the underwear. I quickly realized that shadow was not the result of an impromtu wedgy, but rather was an anotomically correct backside rendering. Sheesh.

It turns out, these were a founding member of Vito's adult underwear club. Sentimentality and lack of a replacement had kept the pair in rotation far beyond their expiration date. We laughed about it.

From that day on, whenever I stayed with the Bratwurst's the boxers always made a hideous appearance. Fortunately there weren't any other fibers that could erode and the faint veil couldn't get any more transparent. That, however, didn't make the sight any less frightening.

As the years moved forward, I'm told that pair of underpants was decommissioned. There was frequent speculation about what the final fate of the shorts could be. They could be bronzed, put under glass or even framed. Whatever their fate, it needed to be spectacular.

Threats of a special "gift" started coming from the Bratwursts. It seems they were looking for the right occasion to send a mysterious cargo. Years again passed.

Last year the right event presented itself and a courier delivered a tightly wrapped package. With caution I removed the tape and paper. Cracking open the box I noticed a familiar gauze; and it apparently always had a brother. Someone carefully applied annotations (I can only presume the Bratwursts) with an indelible marker, too.

Following is what I found for all to celebrate or revile.

front of pair #1

back of pair #1





back of pair #2

front of pair #2


Ann, May 25 2005 12:09PM

Mark: What pair are you wearing now? They look awfully comfortable...worn out in just the right places.

mark, May 25 2005 2:06PM


it's the worn spots that don't give me comfort.

Vito Bratwurst, May 25 2005 9:54PM


Ahhh....the sweet, sweet memories.

I was a little disappointed that some of the better graphics were removed for posting, for instance the ruler, but, the memories evoked are priceless. Actually, if I may be so bold, could I borrow a pair back? Choose your fave and send the lesser gem. I would like to put one of them back in business...I think I can get at least another couple years out of them, and can you believe that the waist band still has great elasticity? You have worn them, right?

paul, May 26 2005 7:36AM

seeing the underwear like that inspired me yesterday to go out and buy 3 new pairs. i have 2 right now in my regular rotation that should've been thrown out a year or two ago. my girlfriend thanks you.

mark, May 26 2005 6:50PM

vito, vito, vito...

had to add a blur to try and keep GUTSY rated as close to PG as possible. don't you worry, though. the peter-meter is still intact.

i'm not sure i would call it "great elastic." on a normal pair of boxers the tag in the back naturally aligns with the flap in the front. on pair #1, the tag is a full 3" out of alignment (see 1st detail photo above): permanently. how's that happen?

so you miss your old friends, eh. what's the oldest pair currently in your rotation? i bet you don't have long before another pair steps up to the comfort challenge.

keep me posted.

and paul, always happy to help a friend.

bratwurst, v, May 26 2005 10:45PM


I see myself as a walking, real-time boxer-style underwear archivist. Actually, most of the underwear in my rotation have quite a history, in fact, I rid myself of so few pairs that I can't remember the last time I bought any myself. Some of the more well-performing pairs were given by my mother-in-law at Christmas. Some of the lesser performing were given by my mother about 7 years ago. They are improperly sized, but still worn only as the last clean pair in the drawer. I retired the silk pair she gave me. They do well in the odor department, but were just too tight with no resistance.

Thrift and long-use runs in my family. It is no tale that I still own and wear 2 pairs of snap-front boxers delivered to me from your fair city by my mother after cleaning out my grandfathers closet after he passed away 5 years ago. She said that they looked new. It was kind of weird at first. And now they are, as you say, my least comfortable pair.

Second in the least comfortable category for me are 100% fancy cotton. They retain no stiffness, and always ride up.

Ann, May 26 2005 10:50PM

Speaking of underwear, I totally ripped the entire waistband out of a pair of my husband's boxers as I was attempting to give him a wedgie. This was years ago back in college...I'm much more mature now.

Apparently this happened because his mom used to bleach the heck out of all of his underwear, leaving them all very fragile.

mark, May 30 2005 12:32PM

mr. bratwurst:

sounds like you might enjoy visiting weekend flea markets looking for the very specialized (and unpopular) underpants antiquarians. my wife has a theory that plants bought at target have already endured such a hard life that they are virtually indestructable. i get the feeling you believe the same thing with underwear.

and don't get me started on silk. i had a pair (once) and felt like i was constantly having an accident. that's not a sexy sensation at all.