Tuesday, April 26, 2005

New Underwear

When we travel we usually pack old clothes, sometimes very old. Although I admit I've succumbed to buying a new wardrobe for a trip, experience has proved that old tried-and-true outfits are more comfortable, show wrinkles and dirt less, and if they get chewed up by an aggressive laundry or come out of the coin-op machine the color of dirty bubble gum, I don't mind throwing them away.

We left home for a three-month stay in Europe with all our old underwear. In the back of our minds was the idea that if we had more stuff to bring home than we started out with, we could jettison the underwear at the end of the trip. For awhile we wondered if the underwear would last that long. Holes got bigger and bigger, elastic lost its stretch and came loose. I started mending, and washing things by hand between weekly laundry sessions. But we made it, and when we departed, most of our underwear stayed behind in the Daily Bin Store (as the dumpster shed in England is called.)

When the kids left home, I started doing laundry every two weeks. My husband and I produce one load of bedding and towels, one load of white wash, one load of medium and one load of dark in that amount of time, and it seems like the most efficient schedule. But it means that we need two week's worth of underwear, plus a few extras for those times when we change more than once a day or when I don't get the laundry done quite on time.

Today I bought new underwear. I made a run to Target and WalMart for a three-pack of men's boxers, four bras, and three six-packs of women's briefs. I had enough socks. For undershirts, my husband wears t-shirts that people give him with things printed on them. He also mysteriously produced a dozen pair of new or nearly-new boxers. (He must have bought them some time ago and put them away.) And 18 pairs of men's socks arrived in the mail; they'd been ordered from the internet because my husband takes a size that's hard to find, and they accounted for the biggest part of the sum I spent on underwear.

So even though what I bought today was not really our full supply, I still resented spending $283.36 on underwear. I know it will last a long time; most of the boxers my husband threw away had been purchased at outlet prices from Big Lots, nearly 20 years ago. Our culture dictates that we wear underwear, and I'd feel cold and naked without it. Besides, what would happen if we were in an accident and someone found out we were not wearing underwear!!

Underwear is a necessity, but I can think of a lot more interesting ways to spend $283.36.


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