"They just need to be tighter... and shorter... and maybe a brighter color," I told my underpants-clad man-friend as he moved around my room like conveyor belt sushi. A diehard fan of baggy gray boxer-briefs, I was hoping to convert my bedmate into a sexy skivvy wearer. After all, he was young and had nothing to hide, shouldn't he celebrate by wrapping his manhood in something that made my libido lambada?
I cleared my throat and equated his ill-fitting underpants to a garbage bag for genitals, which not surprisingly, turned his... frown upside down. But I had Belgian lace shoved artfully up my posterior, shouldn't my other half be making the same effort?
It turns out that the topic of men's underwear is rather taboo. Victoria's Secret models can gallivant on prime time television wearing oversized angel wings and pasties, but men recoil when you tell them the tablecloth adorning their privates isn't tickling your fancy.
. In the political sphere it's as cringe worthy as discussing Hillary Clinton's cleavage. When asked by US Weekly in 2008 if he wore boxers of briefs, Barack Obama refused to enlighten the good people of America about his choice of underwear. "I don't answer those humiliating questions. But whichever one it is, I look good in 'em!" he told the gossip glossy.
President Clinton didn't have the same reservations about disclosing his choice of drawers: "Briefs!" he famously told an MTV audience in 1992 causing Americans to close their eyes for a second and shudder. Senator Kerry said he was tempted to answer "commando," when asked the famous question.
While some of us might not want to picture John Kerry in his birthday suit, the fabric-free approach is often less taboo than wearing briefs for America's young heterosexual males. Unless you happen to look like David Beckham in your tighty-whities (and if you do, please feel free to contact me), the classic brief brings to mind a time when your mother bought your underwear. So that leaves us ladies with boxers or boxer briefs to feast our eyes on, usually in solid utilitarian colors.
From loincloths, to braies, to codpieces and union suits, men have come a long way in the underwear department. Hundreds of years separate Henry VIII padding his pouch and Marky Mark in his low-hanging Calvins. But oh how far we still have to go. Men's unmentionables shouldn't be unmentionable and I hope to feast my eyes on something that is not heather gray and 100 percent cotton sometime soon.
Even if my bedmates become more comfortable discussing their underpants, will it always be inappropriate to ask the president about his? Probably.
Obama ran a campaign of change, and my guess is that for the past couple hundred years, presidential underwear has been small, tight and white. So Barack, now that you've made history, why don't you let the good people of America know if things have changed in the underpants department as well? C'mon, dare to bare.
Follow Karin Tanabe on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karintanabe