Thursday, September 25, 2008


When I was a kid and lived at home, white cotton underpants were de rigueur. Now that was a long time ago and I have no idea whether decorated undies for children - like my little granddaughters' Dora the Explorer panties - were even on the horizon, but even if they were, my mother's fascination with all things white leads me to believe that regardless, I would have had white ones.

Mother always thought white signified total cleanliness - and if a choice had to be made in colors, such as when colored kitchen appliances came into being, Mother always opted for white and made sure we knew why she was choosing it. "White always makes your kitchen look so clean," she would say. Trendiness was not a consideration; cleanliness was.

So my underpanties were always white, and my first training bra (although we didn't call them that in those days) was also white. I was inadvertently brainwashed into thinking that I was making a choice of my own free will when I marched up to the cash registers to pay for my white cotton underwear. And I did it for years, always feeling very clean and very virtuous.

So I was thunderstruck when, back in the early 1970s, Jim Sanderson, who wrote very helpful newspaper columns about recovering from divorce and whom I read faithfully in my efforts to recover from my own unhappy split, made this trenchant pronouncement: "Ladies, the first thing you need to do it get rid of your utility underwear." He was talking about white cotton panties and encouraging us to go out and buy ourselves some lovely feminine underwear, silky and ranging in colors from the palest pink to the hottest red. He said it was a start to making us feel better about ourselves. Oh, I ran to the store and grabbed up pink, blue, lavendar, yellow, red and black silky underthings, and some in wonderfully sheer lace.

Did it make me feel better? You bet. And here I am at 73 still in fancypants.

Today, I still cannot look at a pair of white underpants without mentally pointing a finger at them and saying "Ugh, utility underwear!" It may look funny for a happily-married 73 year old to be standing at the counter buying lovely soft, silky and colorful underwear, but at least no one is ever rude enough to say to me, "Oh, are you buying these for YOURSELF?" Let them think what they want. I simply no longer wear utility underwear!

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