Conflicts chafe in the War of the Unmentionables

March 25, 2007|By SUSAN REIMER

THIS COLUMN IS ABOUT underwear. Specifically, my underwear. So you might want to avert your eyes now, or send the children out of the room.

My question is this: How many pairs of underwear do I need to buy in order to find one in my dresser drawer when I go to get dressed in the morning? A dozen, a hundred, a thousand?

I thought this was my problem until a conversation with my friend, Kate, revealed that she has the same complaint. Upon further discussion, an additional coincidence emerged: Our husbands do the wash.

Before you start applauding the guys for pitching in with the laundry, make a list of all the household tasks you do. Then notice that doing laundry seems to require that you sit near a television and watch ESPN until it is all done, in my house at least.

"Doing the laundry" is a corollary to "watching the kids." When men do it, they don't do anything else.

Anyway, my husband took over the laundry after one of those spats that ended with, "Fine. You do it."

I separate all my dress-up clothes and all my workout clothes and do them myself. He is left with jeans, T-shirts, socks, towels and, well, my underwear.

A crisis develops when he goes too long between loads, and I am left soaking wet and steaming mad when it is time to get dressed in the morning and I don't have any clean underwear.

Underwear seems to be an issue for everybody in our family.

My daughter has confessed that she has an addiction to Victoria's Secret panties and, as a result, she has enough underwear to last until she graduates from college without doing a single load of wash.

It is a good thing, because whenever my husband has to fold her underwear - which resembles brightly colored ribbon more than it does underwear - he breaks out in hives and wants to have a long conversation with me.

Underwear is a problem for my son, too. He got in trouble with his Aunt Jill when he mentioned the concept of "going commando" in front of her 5-year-old, who promptly took the idea to kindergarten, where he shared it with his posse, derailing classroom decorum for days.

My husband has his own problem with underwear. He wears them until they are threadbare and in shreds. He says he is being economical, but I think he is being lazy. He can't be bothered to shop for new.

I finally told him he had to get new underwear or I was going to change the locks on the doors. It is a good thing they sell them at Sam's Club because when he was there to pick up cases of water, miles of paper towels and pounds of meat, he tossed a gross of underwear in the cart.

Trouble is, he won't throw out the old ones. He says he thinks they all have a few more "wears" in them. I told him he could wear them around the local Y, where he would be living, but he seems to be immune to my threats anymore.

He countered my argument with this revelation: He couldn't possibly throw his underwear away, he said. It would be a sacrilege. When he held them up to the light, he said he saw the face of Jesus.

Anyway, I have taken the bull by the horns here, and I now issue warnings on the level of underwear in my drawer: "I am down to three pairs," I announce. "I will need underwear by the weekend."

That leaves me with just one question. How many pairs of jeans do I need to buy in order to have a clean pair when it is time to get dressed in the morning?

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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