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What lies beneath

"I need new underwear." I know, it's probably not something you've ever heard a man admit before, especially not in print, but it's one of those things we all have to face at one time or another, and now's my time.

Mine are simply falling off. I'm sorry to leave you with that visual image, but picture me as Brad Pitt (or Heidi Klum) and you won't mind.

Like most men, I rarely think about, much less mention, what's just under my pants.No, not quite that much under, I mean between that and the pants—you know what I mean.

 Don't get me wrong, I'd wear nothing but underwear if it was socially acceptable—so would most other men. Anyone who's got a man around the house knows this. We're like children who shed their clothes whenever possible. This is not necessarily a pretty sight, especially when company arrives unexpectedly, but there's no sense in trying to pretend it's not true.

See, lately I haven't been able to take five steps without feeling my shorts gravitating towards my ankles, so I knew I had to do something soon.

I started where I usually do—the web. My first mistake was not knowing that "underwear" is like some kind of secret search-engine code word for gay porn. So I blithely clicked on a links thinking I'd see some new styles, and end up seeing new lifestyles.

I decided it was safer to shop in a store and my illusions were shattered there, too. Maybe one reason men are loathe to buy underwear is today's underwear packaging. They all feature large, unexpectedly graphic close up photos of unnaturally good-looking guys wearing underwear that's so tight you can tell, well, too much.

The buff beefcake is always standing around like they're waiting to walk down the catwalk of the "Victor's Secret" fashion show. They look perfectly comfortable loitering in their underwear while everyone stares at them—even though this is something I've had nightmares about.

I just can't take the competition. That's why I don't look at men in their underwear—not even myself. Frankly, I just don't want to know.

But now I had to look at the packages (take that anyway you like). They made it clear that when I put on those briefs I'd look less Marky Mark and more like the Michelin Man. So my first thought was to put them down and resign myself to shorts so old the elastic no longer fits the legal definition of "elastic."

Then I realized I was walking like a penguin and knew it was time to restart my search. But there are just too many choices—endless varieties ranging from nearly knee-length to thongs. Instead of coming up with hundreds of odd new styles, why don't these companies introduce useful innovations, like Teflon coating?

I mean, someone actually "designed" these thongs and are passing them off as underwear when they're more akin to Kleenex on a fishing line. A small rope running vertically up your backside cannot possibly be construed as comfortable, unless you are a failed high wire walker.

Until about a week ago I didn't even know there was something called the "boxer-brief." Their packages tout incomprehensible advantages like, "The comfort of a boxer, with the support of a brief!" Huh? I can only assume that's copywriting code for, "the elastic leg openings won't torture you." If that's the case, why don't they just say that—that'd work for me. Or how's this for a tagline: "Fit's like a glove, not a tourniquet." Again, something I'd understand.

Something else I understand—boxer shorts. 1) They're what boxers wear. 2) They're short. End of story. I don't understand briefs. They seem fine for children but they often look like giant diapers, which, come to think of it, may explain why many grown men wear them. And consider this statistic—while briefs outsell boxer shorts by a margin of 2-1, women prefer men in boxers 2 to 1 over briefs. Hey, guys, get a clue.

After much research (which, I now realize, never involved asking another guy what he wore because that option never entered my mind!), I decided to just go back to the kind I'd always worn. Unfortunately, the manufacturer had been out of business for years.

So I'll have to resume my search for some shorts that, at the very least, don't cut off my circulation and, at best, make me look like the guys on the packages. Wish me luck, I'll need it.

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A Spam solution?

Spam used to be just an annoyance, but now it's getting in the way of my business. Yesterday I received 350 e-mails, 300 of which were Spam (some merely annoying, more and more out right disgusting). Not only does that take a lot of time, sometimes I accidentally delete real mail, thinking it's Spam. That can affect a person's livelihood.

A few years ago I created two secret e-mail addresses, one for friends and one for colleagues. If you know and work with me, then you know to use these addresses which go into special folders where I look first. I now also place a different address on my site for potential clients, and I use a JavaScript format so Spam harvesters can't go around collecting this special customer address. For more info on the script, see: http://www.schmoozeletter.com/schmoozeletter/html/6 8.html

But my main e-mail address has been on my site for eight years and I needed to find a way to keep it from being flooded with Spam. I think I've found it in a service called http://www.mailblocks.com.

Now if you send me an e-mail, and you're in my address book—the message gets through instantly. If I don't know you, your e-mail goes into a pending folder and the system server sends you an e-mail, asking you to click on a link. The link takes you to a web page with some words or numbers in a graphic format that people (not machines or Spam robots) can read. You type in those numbers and press return, and you're added to the list of approved senders, and your message goes to my inbox and the next time you e-mail me your mail will go right through again instantly. Spammers won't respond personally, so their Spam doesn't go through.

http://www.mailblocks.com is well-designed and well-financed, so it should be around for years to come. It's also smart, because it uses the IMAP e-mail protocol (which lets your e-mail program interact with the mail server, rather than just downloading messages). You can use it as web-based mail, then still download your mail to your normal e-mail program such as Outlook, Eudora, or the program I use, The Bat from http://www.ritlabs.com . You can even use it with AOL, Yahoo mail or Hotmail. The web-mail portion is the best I've seen, so you may want to use it instead of any other online e-mail service. If you sign up now, you can get a special price of three years for a mere $9.95.

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One Final Word

I imagine certain powerful politicians are wearing only traditional boxers, their initials embroidered in a fancy script, the curly parts of the letters looking like "999" to them. But it reads quite differently for us, looking up. Underwear is like the government—when it starts to chafe it's time to replace it.

 

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The SchoomozeLetter is ©1998-2005, Daniel Will-Harris, all rights reserved. If you'd like to use any article on the web or in print, please ask for permission. If you're an agent or publisher looking to publish these pieces, just drop me a note.