Vile Bodies

The Thong Remains the Shame

December 15, 2010

It is not to be confused with a cognate technical term that I learned from the Congressional investigation of Tailhook ’91, the notorious Las Vegas naval-aviator jamboree. The official report details the hijinks of our crack Marine Corps Tactical Recon and All-Weather Fighter Attack, carrier jet-pilots. These are the heroes whose mission is to rain shock and awe down on our enemies. On this occasion, to show the sang-froid for which their profession is world-renowned, Top-Gun Marine officers nonchalantly cruised the Hilton Hotel’s corridors with their testicles outside their uniform trousers. Fighter jocks call this specialized maneuver “ballwalking.”

Freeballing aside (it has a slight whiff of lavender), a gentleman normally wears an undergarment that falls into one of two camps—jockeys or boxers. (In the American vernacular: “nut-huggers” or “swing-easies.”) The English, in their colorful way as creators of the common language that separates our two peoples, generally and politely call underpants “smalls” or “undercrackers.” Colloquially, they are known as “kecks,” “trolleys,” and “shreddies,” and vulgarly, “dung-hampers.” The jockey variety is called a “y-front.”

Here’s an example of English usage:

Nurse: Prior to the wedding, we’ll need from His Royal Highness a sample of his blood, urine, stool, and semen.

Equerry to HRH: No worries, sister, I’ll have the valet drop off a pair of his trolleys.

As a note to the aspiring Beau Brummels among my readers, any custom tailor will tell you that he can’t properly fit trousers to a man who wears Speedo-type briefs. Bespoke trousers are cut in an asymmetrical fashion to accommodate what is known in the trade as the “male person” in the relaxed state. So to avoid consternation in Henry Poole’s fitting room, and provided you are not afflicted by priapism like the Marquis de Sade, my advice is—go for the boxers.

These can be made out of a variety of materials, with Sea Island cotton and silk being the most luxurious. A small monogram on the lower left leg is a nice sartorial touch. I knew a man who told me that he had a change pocket incorporated in his custom drawers. Why? I never asked.

Please do not send me any comments about the jock strap’s supposed health benefits for the well-endowed male. If Brahma bulls, bison, and bighorn rams can have appendages that scrape the ground, and if the bull rhinoceros can plow a furrow in the baked African dirt with his pizzle, so can real men let ’em swing easy.

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