Parting with Panties: A Man’s Tale

I volunteer as a yoga instructor on a U.S. Army base in the Bavarian countryside. I know that sounds typical, but this American dream has quite a journey attached to it.

Back in 2003, I was a weight-lifting, beer-drinking, steak-eating alpha redneck that once measured his life in the number of inches his truck was lifted in order to fit over-sized monster mud tires underneath it in order to desperately validate the “man card.” I could tell you multiple ridiculous tales about courting that pickup’s approval, but that story is for another time.

Fast forward to my life now as a yogi and a European vegan. Looking back there isn’t anything left in my life, now, that could link me back to that time of hard-core, masculine idiocy. Except one thing: my black microfiber Under Armour panties.

I remember the first day I bought them as Gold’s gym trainer in Boise, Idaho. I was so excited because I could finally get a pair of underwear that protected against the dreaded chafe I used to get regularly on the inside of my legs. I was secretly even more excited that they were the first pair of black undies I had, meaning that I could rectally exhale through them as much as I wanted without the memories of my younger and more innocent childhood full of Fruit of the Loom stains. White undies constantly and visually reminded the younger me of the more fitting slogan, Fruit of the BOOM.

All men know that wearing whitey-tighties doesn’t provide confidence, because you’re still wearing a modified version of the cloth diaper as a grown-ass man. Back then, “the industry standard” was universally known to allow only three or four episodes of flatulence to be filtered before permanently reminding you about your lack of self-control. Looking at the butt-end of a used cigarette will give you the parallel di“stink”tion.

My 15 percent employee discount looped me into paying $22 for the freedom and “come-fart-able” experience of wearing these spandex cheek-huggers, and I’m here to tell you it was worth every penny. They still reside in my top dresser drawer and I only bring them out in emergency situations. This is one such emergency as I’m behind on doing laundry. The XL spandex has lost its flexibility due to a number of different factors. Between their odometer reading and my lifestyle change, they now hang tattered around my plant-based waist.

There is no doubt in my mind that if it wasn’t for these panties being made of spandex they wouldn’t have lasted as long as they did, but they DO eventually wear out. It took ten years of wearing them at least once a week to finally burn a hole on the inside of the leg. I then proceeded to wear them for another two years until my wife had a serious discussion with me about my needing to dump my trusted friend of 13 years; my security panties.

It turns out that I’m not the only one, a survey by the Tommy John undergarment company revealed that 10% of men keep underwear 10 years or longer. That’s longer than the average length of a first marriage. Another study in Men’s Health found that 28% of men wear the same underwear at least two days in a row. Clearly, I am not alone in my attachment to my panties. This information does not comfort my wife.

My wife calls them “panties” in her attempt to shame me out of wearing them, but it doesn’t work. I know that someday I’ll have to part from them just as Candy had to part from his old worn out sheepdog in Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men. If we had a gun in the house, my wife would gladly take my old friend out behind the house and shoot them right in the back of the ass multiple times. I’m having trouble letting go. I’m too much in awe of the journey these panties of mine made with me.

At this moment, I feel vast waves of empathy rolling over me as I reflect on the thankless job my spandex friend performed for me as the Earth circled the Sun 13 times. They’ve nested my genitalia in a fashion that kept my “eggs and bacon” from soft-boiling to the inside of my leg over several sweltering summers. Additionally, they’ve performed the civic duty of filtering the “winds of Uranus” for over a decade of eating meals as a man with tremendous heft in his appetite.

They have walked with me to strange houses only to be crumpled up and discarded on the floor of ex-lovers, helped support me in finding my love and held me during my wedding to Michelle. They’ve been jammed into multiple dresser drawers, back packs, and duffle bags. They’ve been fondled by the “heroes” of TSA while traveling world-wide from the States to Japan and all-throughout Europe without the need of a separate passport. Over the years they’ve born witness to my tremendous growth as a man and covered my ass on several occasions, never asking for anything in return.

Maybe this is why men have the hardest time parting with their panties; a man’s panties are loyal and loyalty is an admirable trait in any form. Now, don’t cry for me. I’ll be fine, but I’m am conflicted on whether to throw the panties out, or give them a proper burial. I mean, it’s the least I could do for my most trusted piece of fabric.

If I bury them in the garden, there is a chance that 13 years’ worth of microfiber “fartilizer” could eschew the growing of a sprout in its remembrance. Perhaps giving them a Viking style funeral is more fitting where I ceremonially place them upon a burning pyre so that the physical matter of my spandex nugget catchers can combust, thus releasing their ethereal spirit towards the heavens.

But, my pro-environmental tendencies have me questioning if these are healthy options, so there is only one other option, as I see it. I could have them mounted and framed. Call it over-the-top if you like, but I see it as a tale of poetic justice. Is it fair that my most trusted friend, since 2003, end his days of service by being mounted and framed for attendance to his own wake 13 years later?

What is the proper ode from a man and his trusted panties? When is it really necessary to let go of your old security pair? I’m unsure how to say goodbye most appropriately, but as our long and valued relationship comes to a close I’m not that sad because the way I see it the life of my panties was a gas.

Spencer Harber M.A., RYT, MT