Saturday, July 31, 2010
Awkwardness in the Underwear Aisle
School is about to begin again. This will be my last semester until graduation, which means I’ll be student teaching. I’m nervous about this, but ready for it to begin. I think I’m more anxious than anything for it to just be over with, that way I can finally get hired somewhere and begin a new chapter of my life. It’s what I’ve been working toward for the last two years now.
Anyway, the other day I went to the store to pick up some things I knew I’d be needing for school; mostly new clothes, since I didn’t have enough formal attire for teaching that would satisfy being in a school five days a week (khaki pants and dress shirts). Like most people, I wear underwear, and that being the case, I knew it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a few new pairs while I was at it. So, I found myself walking down the underwear aisle. You might imagine that this is an aisle frequented mostly by men, but you’d be wrong in assuming that. It never fails that whenever I go to pick out underwear the aisle has at least one or two women standing around—no doubt shopping for their husbands—and I usually turn out to be the only guy around. Now, I don’t know if women find it awkward for men to be in the ladies underwear aisles (for whatever reason they would be), but I’ll admit I find it quite awkward to be choosing, and thereby announcing, what sort of underwear I wear in front of women. It almost, in a weird sort of way, just makes me feel naked in front of them, as if all of a sudden I’m stripped right down to my underwear. Because of this, I try to avoid going down the men’s underwear aisle until it is in the clear (though this is nearly impossible, because for every women that leaves, another seems to always show up, which just makes me end up wanting to scream for all of them to get out of the place—though I never actually have).
Not only do I find it awkward picking out underwear with women staring over my shoulder, but being of the sexual persuasion I am, I admit it seems a bit awkward to go walking down an aisle looking at a bunch of packages with almost completely naked (and usually good looking) men plastered all over their covers. I often find myself holding my breath and my heart rate increasing while in this aisle, which just makes me a bit self-conscious, wondering if my appeal to the imagery is noticeable to others. I do try not to look too long at any of the packages. I know which type of underwear I generally like (and to satisfy any curiosities, I’ll tell you it’s Hanes boxer briefs) and so I can usually just get them and go and all remains good in the world. But there are times when I can’t find the usual and do have to do some looking to decide what I want.
I wonder if the reason the men’s underwear aisle is usually devoid of other men is because, like me, most men just feel uncomfortable being there. If someone sees you looking at how the underwear looks on another guy, will they think you’re gay? I can imagine other men thinking this, whether gay or straight. Most men may just not like seeing all of those pictures of other men. There again, like me, they may just not like choosing their underwear in front of women. As for the women, I suppose they could just be a bunch of pervs who, like me, find the packaging appealing, but, unlike me, feel unabashed about looking.
What do you think?