The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

VISIBLE PANTY LINES AND THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO MODERN AMERICAN SOCIETY: To start with, let me just say that I am not in the habit of, nor am I comfortable with, discussing women’s underwear. I know that the vast majority of women wear underwear, just as the vast majority of men do, and that men and women’s underwear differ from each other to best suit the fashion and excretory needs of the individual involved. I am merely stating that I am not in the habit of discussing such things. Underwear, for me, is a societal phenomenon of the same order as covert operations or cleaning septic tanks; something necessary but best not thought of in any great detail. I merely assume its existence and then move on from there. Underwear, by definition, is out of sight and therefore out of mind; if you wanted people to know what you were wearing under your clothing you would wear them over your clothing and spare everyone the unnecessary chore of trying to guess what your underwear looks like.

So it is with no small degree of consternation that I now put my two cents in on an aspect of this issue that I would, frankly, just as soon skip altogether. I find, however, that silence is no longer possible, since this issue is now the subject of intense media scrutiny all over the country. I am referring, of course, to the increasingly bitter dispute between those women who prefer to wear Freudian slips and those who prefer the Doppler shift. Now, just to preface my remarks, let me just say that I am in no way taking sides in this long running and always bitter dispute. I think that Freudian slippers look much nicer on women than the usual pair of high heels and I am sure they must be that much more comfortable as well, but I admit I am looking at this issue from the somewhat Neanderthalish perspective of your typical heterosexual American male, whom most of you would expect to have such an opinion. I know that many of the women I work with would rather have their husbands catch them in the nude on a city bus than wear a pair of Freudian slippers during the workweek, which they regard as a sure sign that the wearer is out on the town looking to play the strumpet with a Dixieland jazz band. I’ve always thought that condemnation a bit harsh myself, but then I don’t have to wear the things, do I?

Having arrived somehow at a discussion of footwear, which was not my intention, let us return to the question of underwear, as that is ostensibly the subject at hand. However, in the discussion of footwear, and no, we are not going to talk about shoes today, we see a foreshadowing, if you will, of the larger topic of underwear now violently wracking this country. For the adherents of the Doppler shift tend to regard those women who prefer the Freudian slip as somewhat suspect in their personal morality and overly fond of socialism and the welfare state in their political views. In more that one poll of women who prefer the Doppler shift, what is most striking is their almost visceral distrust of women who would wear something that permits something of a personal nature to pop out at any time. Adherents of the Doppler shift regard themselves as a fairly practical group, their ideas tried and tested in the fire of experience, and so have no use for a garment that sags when it should support, thereby allowing sudden moments of unexpected truth to pop out, usually in a setting where men have been drinking too much and are apt to make lewd comments about the sudden exposure. The Freudian slip is simply too compromising a garment for these women to wear comfortably.

Those women who prefer the Freudian slip allow that wearing one might cause some difficulties, but that women who wear the Doppler shift exaggerate these difficulties no end. The supporters of the Freudian slip see their rivals in the Doppler shift as a bit stodgy and old fashioned, and one woman I know told me that she thought that that whole Doppler crew, as she called them, was nothing more than a mob of hypocrites, or whatever the collective noun for hypocrites is. How else, she asked, can you explain a group of women that looks and sounds different as they come and go? You can’t, she said, and if you find that your best friend is fond of wearing Doppler shifts, then hire a private detective forthwith; that is just about the surest sign there is that she is having an affair with your husband. Many who prefer the Freudian slip echo this woman’s concerns and say they would rather put up with the possibility of a dozen wardrobe malfunctions than have people think that they are hypocrites, so hateful is the very concept of the Doppler shift and everything the shift represents to them.

So intractable are these groups that you might think there is absolutely no room for compromise between them, but there is at least one point that bridges the chasm of mutual hostility. If nothing else, both sects hate, loathe, and despise, although not necessarily in that order, the visible panty line. The visible panty line is an associate of the Mollusk family, according to Federal law enforcement authorities, responsible for handling the family’s extensive loansharking operations and labor racketeering in the slough of urban despond directly across the river from our happy little burg. The visible panty line is a vile and vicious little punk, especially after a few drinks, and has table manners so completely loathsome that many restaurants who must endure the usually unwanted patronage of this unsavory lot set aside a private room where these two bit thugs can feed upon their horrid repasts out of sight of the regular customers, who are often sickened at the sight of them in their gastronomical frenzies.

I do not deny that they have a certain rough charm, which, I’ve noticed, many women find amusing, but that wears off quickly. Women found in their company often deny that they are; some going as far as claiming that they are merely conducting sociological research for a major university; but generally when the word gets around the woman’s reputation for intellectual seriousness is fatally compromised. The extreme antipathy these hoodlums generate among all classes of women should therefore come as no surprise to anyone, or that women who would fight each other to the death over Freudian slips and Doppler shifts would choose to put aside their quarrel for a day in order to better fight the panty line. This can sometimes go to unfortunate extremes, as it did only a few years ago across the river, when the local gendarmerie charged two sisters, the elder of the two being a supporter of the Doppler shift, the younger a Freudian slip wearer, with the murder of a middle-aged panty line in his home, for reasons that no one could adequately explain. The sisters were the product of a middle class home and a Catholic school education and had never been in trouble with the law before their arrest and subsequent trial and conviction. They did not attempt to justify or in any way try to mitigate their behavior the night they killed him, only to say that he had ruined a brand new pair of pants. This is, as I said, an extreme case, but it seems indicative of the complete and utter disdain most women hold the lines in.

But the visible panty line is more or less the only thing these two warring groups can actually agree upon; the rest of their time is spent lambasting each other with imprecations, anathemas, and sometimes with sesquipedalian language so intemperate no family periodical would publish it for fear of alienating those of their readers without access to a really good dictionary. Can these two groups, long at odds with each other, finally come together in an appreciation of the other’s strong contribution to our common culture? Probably not, at this point, I am sorry to say; the differences are so strong, the demonization of the other so complete, that it will take years of shopping for the two sides to find some common ground from which they can move on into a brighter and, one hopes, more peaceful future. Until then, we must all endure what we must endure.


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