The Great Depression And a Dead Man's Underwear
by Michele Christopher
In my first post on this fascinating topic, I posed a question, which was my theory that most of us wear as adults what our moms bought for us when we were kids and teenagers, and we just got used to it or whatever, and that was that.
As several people pointed out, except for special occasions I’m not really trying to make a fashion statement, I just want to be comfortable.
Part of the reason I find this theory so plausible is that my own anecdotal evidence supports it fully, so I can treat it like global warming theory. Another reason though is the special relationship a mother and a son share. It’s different from fathers and sons, and of course completely different from that of parents and daughters.
Unless a power tool is missing. Then you’re all equally guilty under the law.
However special and close the mother / son relationship might be, there are areas where open communication is not really a priority.
That’d be talkin about underwear. No boy, no adolescent, no teenager, hell who am I kidding, no man in his 40s wants to discuss this with mom. Not at all. Not ever. Don’t get me wrong, moms can talk about it all the time and dear God we wish they would just please shut up about it. “Look what I got for you at Target today David, the other ones were looking so thin and threadbare and yak, yak, yak, yak”. “Mom, ok, uh, yeah just, all right already, ok, ahh,, AIYEEEEEE”!!
So we wore what they bought and that was it. The alternative was discussing it.
When I was 19 my mom had a friend who lost a son to a premature heart attack. He was about 31. About my size.
I think you all know where this is going.
To understand my mom’s thought process in this nightmare, you have to appreciate (which I of course did not at the time) that she was a child of the depression. It affected her life profoundly. She grew up poor on a little farm in Alabama. Her dad was a carpenter. She was a teenager during WWII, and she remembered rationing. Most of you are aware that every single commodity you could buy was rationed. Meat, eggs, milk, bread, gasoline, tires, clothing.. No coupon, no buy.
People of limited means survived the depression by saving everything. You wasted nothing. They had grease drives for cryin out loud… save your grease drippings from meats.
So you might be able to understand when my mother came home from her friend’s house with two paper grocery bags, she thought she was doing a very good thing.
It was this guy’s underwear.
I swear to God, she brought me another man’s underwear.
A DEAD man’s underwear. And she had a co-conspirator, who probably came up with the idea.
“Martha sent these over today. They were Ken’s”. I open bag, look in, and drop it, backing away like it’s full of baby rattlesnakes.
I think I screamed like a girl. I don’t remember exactly. I said something.
“No way. Uh uh. Not happening” I said. She goes all ‘practical on me’.
“Oh hush, they’re practically new. And he was exactly your size”.
memo to self: this size can equal premature death from heart disease. think about it bub.
“Mom, they’re some other guys underwear. A dead guy’s underwear”.
“Well they only needed one pair for the service David. I don’t understand what’s wrong”.
Oh great, there’s one pair missing from the set.
“I am not wearing those. He is dead. Death could have jumped into them. Death does that, it doesn’t care where it goes. Those could be Death Briefs! Don’t you want grandchildren someday”?
I almost had her there. But she found her second wind.
She carried on for a bit about how ungrateful children were or something, I don’t know. At some point in my youth I learned to filter that frequency. It was a coping mechanism that helped me survive. Anyway, I took those bags and shoved them in the garbage can, and planted the lid.
Before I left to go back to school, I looked in the trunk of my car.
Yep. Tucked way up in the back. Behind the spare.
Depression children are not just resourceful.
They are sneaky as all hell.
Dave won't tell if he wears boxers or briefs. Or neither.