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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

The Boxers Debriefing

When you join a new gym — as I recently did, thanks for your athletic support — you find yourself thinking about all sorts of new things.

You might wonder whether you’re sweating more than anyone else in the room. You may worry that you pedal like a girl on the stationary bike. You could spend an afternoon trying to determine the least ‘dirty old man-like’ spot to take in a yoga class.

(These are merely examples.

No, you shut up.)

Mostly, though, you’ll think about your underpants.

I’m serious. I’ve belonged to this gym for three weeks. And I’ve given my undergarments more consideration in the last twenty days than I have in twenty years. It’s like I don’t even know me any more.

Here’s the thing. Most places you go in life, you don’t much care about the state of your underwear. If they’re on, clean — or for some people, clean-ish — and flipped around the right way, that’s all you need to know. Most of our unmentionables don’t get seen, felt or mentioned throughout the course of our daily lives. Not on the bus. Not at work. And not in the coffee line at Starbucks. We’re too civilized for that.

But the gym, now — the gym is a different animal. There’s a locker room there, so you can change into your sweat-stained T-shirt and prissy-pedal your way through a workout. And you’re also changing pants, which means exposing your underpants. And that leads to choices. Choices you never thought you’d need to make.

That’s what’s happened to me. I’m no fashion hound. I get out of bed in the morning, and put on the first pair of jeans and striped rugby I find in the closet — the way Nature intended. What goes underneath — boxers, briefs or a ballerina gown — is usually of little consequence to me, or anyone else.

(Though for the record? It’s boxers. Made the move from tighty whities back in college, and never looked back.

To be fair, I actually can’t look back, mostly. If I turn around too fast, I could spin out a testicle. These things are unsafe at any speed.)

These days, however, I find myself standing over my dresser with undies drawer drawn, musing my strategy. I miss the good old days — the straight-shootin’, grip-it-and-rip-it times — when I could grab any old hunk of fabric out of there, toss it around my waist, and get on with the morning. But now? Now that I’ve joined a gym?

Not so much.

“Everyone in the locker room will laugh and point. Or recoil in horror, and refer me to a good urologist.”

Now I have to consider the options. That pair’s no good; it’s got a hole in the leg. People will think I’m non-ironically ghetto. And those with the weird stain — which should teach me not to drink chai tea on my couch pantsless on a hot summer night — those won’t do. Everyone in the locker room will laugh and point. Or recoil in horror, and refer me to a good urologist. I don’t want any part of that.

Of course, some of the issues are not so cut-and-dried. Or spilled-and-dried, as the case may be. Take my sailboat underpants. I have a pair of boxers, and they’re adorned with little sailboats all over. The pants are otherwise fine — structurally sound, free of blemishes, of approximate size to fulfill their duties — but there are cute little sailboats tucked all over the print. And I’ve ruled them out on gym days. I’ve made the decision that if I wouldn’t wear something on my chest at the office, then it’s not seeing the light of day on my crotch at the gym, either. That’s the rule. I’ve drawn the line.

Sadly, much of my undercarriage covering wardrobe falls on the other side of that line. Joining ‘sailboat boxers’ are, in no particular order, ‘puppy dog heads’, ‘smiley faces’, ‘Professor Utonium action poses’ and ‘silk Valentine hearts’. And those are just the easy ones.

The ones that keep me up at night — or rather, standing at my dresser with uncovered junk at seven thirty in the morning — are the toughies. Like ‘football referee calls’. This one pair of boxers is black with little referees all over it making hand signals, and the name of each call — like ‘Offsides’ or ‘Pass Interference’ — written underneath. It’s sports-related. Not too kiddish. So are they gym-worthy?

I look at it this way. Would I want to be in the locker room, mid-change, and have some random guy look at my ass and think ‘Illegal Procedure’ or ‘Roughing the Passer’?

No. No, I emphatically would not. So football motif notwithstanding, these boxers are not in the gym day rotation.

What is in the rotation is the plainest, boringest, most fifties-grandpa-argyle-sock nondescript bunch of plains, plaids and gently paisleyed that you’ve ever laid eyes on. Because they might actually have eyes laid on them, and that seems like the path of least mortified embarrassment. As usual in life, if it makes me smile, chuckle, or swell with joy, then I’m not bringing it out in public.

And so, I spend more time per week mulling underpants than one man should in a lifetime. But so far, no one’s kicked me out of the gym, run my boxers up a flagpole or flicked holy water at my privates to make the horror go away. So I suppose it’s going well, for now. At least until I stop in for an impromptu workout on a My Little Pony day.

That’s gonna be hawkward.

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