Many of us feel crammed into a thankless job -- and not just mothers, teachers, garbage collectors, NFL refs or the guy who pumps out my septic tank (I do thank him but from a distance).
I write a column and what do I get in return? The occasional kind email. The occasional "are you supposed to be funny?" email. But does anyone ever think to thank me with small unmarked bills, flat-screen TVs or hold community rallies to raise money toward my Ford Mustang? No.
Take a column I wrote in February about a classified ad for men's briefs. I mentioned my affinity for boxers but not briefs. I might have mentioned my reindeer dachshund boxers, which, in retrospect, was an unfortunate and perhaps horrifying image.
Still, did anyone thank me for that column?
Turns out, yes.
A mystery reader sent me an unsigned package this past week. I opened it during the part of my work day I reserve for opening mail, clandestine flossing, searching inside for coffee filters and searching outside for osprey nests (P.S. no one thanks me for this work, either).
Inside the package was a note written in cryptic black lettering:
TRY THESE ON FOR SIZE!
Buried in the envelope flotsam were three balled-up pairs of men's briefs. Actually, the labels say "string bikini." Size 7/L. Made in Vietnam. Floridian blue and green. Someone sent me string bikini underwear. Those words have never left my fingertips. I don't know what to say.
Except thank you.
Because I believe in the very goodness of readers, I accept these string bikini briefs (would more than one be considered a pod or a gaggle?) as a thank you from my mystery reader. His or her way of saying, "Job well done, sir."
I am grateful yet remain unnerved. I don't know if they fit, and I'm not going to find out. While I am a man of diverse curiosities, I feel no saucy urge to wedge myself into a string bikini brief in the name of journalism, boredom or madness. Speedos frighten me. I've been to certain beaches, seen certain European men, seen certain European male features pressed into Speedos, and I have been very afraid.
I am equally afraid of my thank you gift.
What do I do with them?
The briefs are too pretty -- excuse me, too handsome -- to throw out. I'm not sure they're the kind of apparel that would jump off the shelves at goodwill. I can't pawn them off on my friends: free Guinness, yes; free underwear, no. Maybe I'll stow my gaggle of briefs in the bottom dresser drawer along with ghosts of waist sizes past.
Or string them up in my office to remind myself of the very goodness of readers.