I needed some new pants. But what type? Get the awful mental images out of your head (and no surprisingly this is not a picture of me) and please read on. Did I just get routine M&S boxers or go for something more? You see the trouble with pants is that they are no longer hidden. They have moved beyond utility function to fashion function. Images of Calvin Klein models of both sexes set the new standard. Kids wear their jeans low so everyone can see what label pants they are wearing.
Look I’m in the happiest and most secure marriage I can imagine (you’d have to ask what my wife what she thinks) but what if I don’t wear designer undergarments? What does that say about my commitment to my marriage? Am I getting lazy and complacent? Will someone else wow her with their Calvin’s? Of course not – but the marketing images are there to make us think and worry about such things.
So I walked round the shops trying to judge what wasn’t lazy and complacent but what wasn’t stupid in terms of price either. I settled on some black plain boxers from Muji. God knows what that says about me or whether divorce is just round the corner? These are gambles you take in a consumer society.
Along the high street was an obviously homeless boy in an empty shop doorway with a dog and a sign. I had a £5 note in my pocket. The guilt of shopping and my bleeding heart liberal tendencies combined and I put it in his hand. He looked at me and said ‘are you sure?’ His need was 100 times that of mine and I had 100 times more than him – and all he could do was check to see if was sure about giving him the price of a pair of pants. I could have cried – for him but for myself and our world.
We live in a mad world in which the brand on our pants matters and being homeless doesn’t. We have got our knickers in a right twist.