Hang Loose

© 2005 Stuart Scott

I believe a man should change his underwear at least three times a year.

If you wear briefs, switch to boxers. If you wear white, try colors. Mix it up. Take a walk on the wild side.

I didn’t always think this way. Far from it. Like many men, I got set in my sartorial ways early in life. Around age six, I think.

I was twenty before I got up the nerve to change my shorts. I’d worn plain white briefs since I got out of diapers. I didn’t choose them. They were just there. Dad wore them. My older brothers wore them. I assumed that all right-thinking males wore white Y-fronts. To me they were a natural phenomenon, like sunshine or maple trees or Chevrolets.

I’d seen pictures of boxer shorts in the Sears catalog, but I didn’t know anyone who wore them. Maybe they were for the same people who wore tasseled loafers or plaid golf pants. For them, perhaps, but certainly not for us.

Then in college my girlfriend decided I needed a style makeover. She dragged me through the mall, picking out my new wardrobe. Including boxer shorts. I guess they were the norm in her family. I felt strange buying them, sure that people were staring at me. I felt even stranger wearing them. They seemed a bit, well, naughty. Thank heaven they only came in manly stripes and plaids!

Several years later it was my wife who rocked my boat. She gave me silk briefs for my birthday. Silk undies for a man? What was she thinking? But they came from L.L. Bean, outfitters to generations of hunters and fishermen, so I grudgingly accepted them.

Another year she gave me black briefs. I told her politely that I’d save them for a special occasion. I could tell by her look that I’d said the wrong thing.

“Does it really matter what kind of underwear I wear?” I wanted to know.

“That’s exactly my point!” she exclaimed. “It doesn’t matter at all. So why do you make such a big deal about trying something different?”

I finally got it. If something doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter. There I was, clinging to my familiar tighty-whiteys as if my life depended on them.

My wife is right. It won’t kill me to expand my comfort zone. To stop worrying about things that don’t matter. To take changes in stride. Of course, that means I have to try new things. They often feel uncomfortable at first. But I’m getting comfortable with that. One pair of shorts at a time.

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