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Jeff Whitten: When it hurts to think
editor's notes

From the rear lines of the pandemic, continued: 

I’m starting to think the more I try to think the more it hurts to think, so why bother with thinking?

Instead, let’s look at some cold, hard facts.

COLD HARD FACT NO. 1: There are places where you can buy used underwear. I found one such place while being hauled around a certain southwest Georgia town – well, Cordele – by my wife and sister-in-law about five or six years ago. It was some store next to a Fred’s. It probably didn’t even have a name, just a sign on the door that said open.

Inside, beneath dingy fluorescent lighting and amidst recliners that didn’t recline and yard decorations that looked like they might come to life and bite your arm off, and offbrand snack cakes that expired in 1987, and bits and pieces of hair coloring kits that went out of style in 1973, and bike tire innertubes, and left handed screwdrivers, and clothes of all sorts of shapes and sizes, and pickled eggs, and some kind of cheese, and ostensibly live crickets, sat a cardboard box that might’ve once held a washing machine.

Inside, there were thousands of pairs (I’m estimating, I didn’t count) of used tighty-whiteys, which is not some smart alecky description of the Republican majority in the Georgia general assembly. On the box was taped a handwritten sign saying something like: “Men’s pre-owned drawers, 50 cents a pair.”

COLD HARD FACT NO. 2: I was astounded. “Look,” I told my wife. “They sell used drawers here. USED DRAWERS. Fifty cents. FIFTY CENTS.”

“Hush,” she said.

“I mean, is that even legal?,” I said, and she rolled her eyes at me and went to the ladies department after telling me for the 11,000th time not to embarrass her.

I stood there in her wake, alone and perplexed. I felt bad there are people in this world so destitute they have to resort to wearing second hand skivvies, which I suspect is about as dejected a situation as one might be in. Shouldn’t there be an organization out there like the United Way, except dedicated to making sure a man doesn’t have to resort to used drawers? I also wondered where the supply came from – the Chinese Army, perhaps? -and then whether my own drawers were new, and how would I know if they weren’t? Is there some kind of pen that can detect used briefs the same way cashiers can swipe a $20 and know whether it’s real or counterfeit? And if not, would I ever know?

COLD HARD FACT NO. 3. Truth is, I could be sitting in a pair of used jockey shorts right now, except I wear boxers.

That’s because, except for my stint in the Army, my drawers always came packaged and wrapped and were gifted to me by either my mother or my wife, because in America that’s how underwear is supposed to arrive in a man’s drawers drawer. A woman buys them for him and puts them there.

In fact, I’m going on 59 and don’t think I’ve ever bought a pair of civilian underoos in my life. Worse, given my wife’s penchant for yard sales and thrift stores and practical jokes – someday I’ll tell you about the time I got stung by like 10,000 bees and, after she was sure I’d live, snuck up behind me and made a buzzing sound just to see me jump – there’s a chance she could’ve bought me some used drawers to see if I could tell.

To quote Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now,” “Oh, the horror.”

That’s because men I know, and I include myself in that category, would almost rather die than wear recycled drawers, even pairs that had been bleached and beat with rocks and bleached again and then left to dry for 1,000 years in the desert sun. Or on the sun, for that matter.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say you don’t ever want to ever get that close to another dude’s underwear unless you absolutely have to, and I can’t think of many things in that category.

Sure, maybe if you were thought you were having a dream about winding up naked back in the third grade because they finally found out you flunked your CRCT test, only to find out it wasn’t a dream and you were there naked in a third grade classroom having to retake the CRTC, and the principal, who looked like Sofia Vergara, came in and said you had to borrow a pair of drawers or get shot by firing squad. Even then you’d be picky as all get out and start looking for bleach and rocks and a good desert.

There were no men shopping in the used men’s underwear box while I was there that long ago day, though I remember a woman with chin hair who retrieved a pair so big they could’ve been used to upholster a couch and start stretching them this way and that.

“Too small,” she muttered aloud, throwing them back in the box.

I went to find my wife.

“You should see ....”

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