I’m writing this column from the laundry room in Burton basement because, after four weeks of school, I’ve finally run out of clean underwear. I’d been sticking it out to see if my wardrobe were large enough to last until the Union St. washers were operational, but after a weekend spent in Thong-City and a brave but brief detour down Commando Lane, I decided I’d had enough.
There are things about doing one’s laundry in public that I will never adjust to. Last fall, for instance, I showed up four minutes after my wash cycle was complete to find that all of my undergarments had been strewn carelessly on an adjacent washer in order to make way for someone else’s dirty load. While this sort of intrusive panty-handling is rare, panty-glimpsing in the laundry room is often unavoidable, and judging by the row of bras hanging above me, not everyone on campus recoils from such less-than-intimate displays of intimates.
Of course, most of us expect to see each other in our underoos at least once a year; Safer Sex Night is pretty much a guaranteed panty parade, while last Thursday’s big storm compelled many an exhibitionist to strip to their necessities and splash across North Quad. But lately it has come to my attention that for some of us, waiting on the weather is unbearable, and SSN just isn’t soon enough. Undie-Time has become all the time.
Believers in Undie-Time have infiltrated every classroom on campus: the girl sitting in front of you in bio with her floral print Vicky V-string plumbering inches above her vintage jeans; the hippie chick in Wilder exhibiting frontal briefs as casually as bra-straps; the wanna-be hip-hoppers with blue plaid boxers who belt their cargos mid-thigh like it’s 1995; the lazy, long-haired peace-pipers who stroll awkwardly, pants in hand to the Wisdom Tree in North Quad; the burned-out “dude,” about eight months late for the Lebowski Fest, who has taken to attending class only clad in his boxers and an open bathrobe, shirtless.
Yes, all genders and all cliques are found guilty of this risqué phenomenon, and while mere thong-flashing beyond the bubble is commonplace, it’s hard to imagine another arena in which Undie-Time would manifest itself as a half-moon, pant-seat revealing zebra-striped unmentionables.
Perhaps the only thing worse than realizing you’re out of clean briefs a half-hour before class is having everyone else’s underwear drawer shoved in your face all day long. I’m not condemning the trend, which, admittedly, is still in the earliest stages of development (my awareness of its presence is significantly heightened by my current wardrobe plight). I’m merely questioning the wisdom of its followers. Undie-Time is a fashion choice that suggests a stance of careless superiority to fashion concerns; yet one wonders how four inches of undergarment activity can be anything but deliberate.
I suppose that deliberate under-baring is not the worst thing that can happen; at Vassar, for instance, the official stance on the rulebooks is that all clothing is optional. I’m very grateful that at Oberlin this is not the case, for surely no one but the hipsters would continue to dress, and besides having nothing to write about, I’d die laughing and never make it to class.
While I embrace the liberating mentality of loosening one’s belt a
notch, I’d like to caution those who bare their briefs to make sure
that’s the only thing on display. In other words: Keep rockin’ your
panty party but keep your personals in your pants!