Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

September 12, 2012

Another epic breakthrough

By Mike Redmond

— I'm sure we've all seen the commercial: A guy stands at his grill while the tag of his underwear makes all kinds of snarky remarks until Michael Jordan comes along and saves the day by ripping out the tag and throwing it into the fire.

And perhaps you've had the same question as me, namely: When did tags on your underpants turn into such a big deal? Also, when did they start talking?

Actually, I've been wondering about this for a couple of years now, ever since I started seeing men's unmentionables in the stores with big, bold declarations of taglessness on the outside of the package.

Between that and the commercials, you'd think tagless underwear was an innovation to rival Alexander Graham Bell's telephone, Thomas Edison's light bulb, and Samuel F.B. Morse's electric telegraph.

Why, I can hear the speech even now: "Today we learn of an amazing development, destined to change the course of history, proof yet again that there's no match for American ingenuity, no obstacle that cannot be overcome with good old Yankee grit: Underwear with no tag in it. Just think of it. Decades of underwear tags rendered obsolete with one stupendous achievement.

"All across this great land, men and women are cheering. Bonfires are blazing, church bells are ringing. Babies are being tossed into the air and in the majority of cases, caught.

"We shed a tear of joy as we stand proudly to declare our undying appreciation for this glorious news. American tagless underwear manufacturers, a grateful nation thanks you."

Looks to me like what's being manufactured here is a big load of what we used to shovel out of the barn.

I, for one, have heard no clamor for tagless underwear. Not that I spend a lot of time listening for people to mention it. Let's just say it has never come up in my social circle. And as an experienced underwear wearer (underwearer?) I can also tell you that not once have I ever thought to myself, "Boy, I wish my underpants were tagless."

My boxer briefs have never made snarky comments about my ability to cook on a grill. For that matter, I can't recall a time when my underwear tags made any kind of comment to me. And if they did, I don't think I'd be calling a basketball player for help. Not while there are psychiatrists on the planet.

What we have here, I think, is a solution to a made-up problem. People love to feel aggrieved, you know. In fact, there are lots of people who aren't happy unless they're miserable. They just don't always know what they're miserable about. This creates a perfect opportunity for a creative underwear company to swoop in and make a declaration about underwear tags, as if they were the root of all our suffering, and then offer a solution to a problem we didn't know we had.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe tagless underpants really are an innovation like Bell's phone, Edison's bulb, and Morse's telegraph. In that case, let me point out that all those things are obsolete. If tagless underwear follows the same pattern, it won't be long until it, too, disappears and we all go commando.

And no, I do not want to see a commercial for that.

© 2012 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.