Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A few words about underwear

No doubt this post's title will draw some strange traffic from the search engines, but I really do have something to say about underwear. (Oops. My mom just fainted.) Some British friends have mentioned (don't ask how we got on this subject) that they're always a little amazed when we Americans refer to ladies' and gentlemen's trousers as "pants." Pants, the Brits say, is short for underpants.

Listen, I love you dears across the pond, and I'm grateful that so many of you visit this blog, but I simply cannot bring myself to say "trousers" with a straight face. I'd just as soon call my umbrella a brolly. From time to time I've been known to use the word "slacks," but that seems a very old-fashioned word to me, so I'm left with no alternative; "pants" it is. But that's fine, because pants can be casual or dressy. Working men can wear suit pants to the office, scrub pants in surgery, painting pants at the construction site, and so on. They can yank on sweatpants to work out, and then they can shower and shave and slide into tuxedo pants for a night at the opera. Is this a great country, or what? Even our women wear pants.

I am in a position to know (although I cannot reveal where I obtained this information) that many young men, at least the ones who don't have ten inches' worth of boxer shorts showing above their low-slung jeans, are eshewing underwear these days. They call that "going commando." I don't know what made me think of that just now, but since some of you are already deeply shocked by this discussion of pants, I figured I might as well toss that in.

You know, up until this morning I would have sworn this was not one of those blogs that discusses underwear (or young men not wearing same). I'll go ahead and brace myself for your outraged comments, but before we get to those, let me tell you why I'm thinking about underwear at eight o'clock in the morning.

I've just been editing a scene in the romance novel I'm polishing, and when I came across a man wearing "black slacks" I didn't like the way that rhymed. It made a serious sentence look silly. So I changed it to "black pants." I toyed briefly with calling them "black dress pants," but the guy's already wearing a dress shirt, so that seemed a little too...uh, dressy. And people who insist pants are underwear will be plenty shocked already, without my refering to a man's dress pants and leading them to imagine silky undergarments with-- No, I won't go there. This really isn't that kind of blog.

23 comments:

Chris said...

When in doubt, go with chinos. Or pantaloons. Never breeches, though, or the trailer-park variety, britches (don't forget the r ...).

(... or arrrr if they're wearing pantaloons.)

--Chris (dFm)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

ROFLO..."going commando"....geez, this is two blogs and two days in a row that I shot coffee out my nose all over the LCD. My sinuses are really cleared out now!

Neal said...

Now you've got to guess that I'm going to respond to this one.

Pants are definitely the things you wear under your trousers. Unless you're wearing boxers. Or y-fronts (but you'd never admit to that), or a thong (but you'd probably be female), or knickers (which is my wife's preferred term -- she hates the word "pants".) But whatever, here in the UK, pants are not trousers, and trousers are not silly. (but slacks are old-fashioned here too). Oh, and apparently people go commando here as well, though I wouldn't want to try it myself.

While we're about it, if you're from Cumbria, you're quite likely to refer to a swimming costume as "dookers", though most people wouldn't know what on earth you were on about, and if you live in my house, then the remote control for just about any device is called the "doofer", but I digress.

Now, is that clear? Thought so. Next week, we bring you alternate names for the "lapwing" (there are about 63, I believe ...)

Marianne McA said...

It is uneasy making when you're reading in British English - the hero is having a shower, the doorbell rings, he throws on a pair of pants and goes to answer the door... Completely different picture in my head to the one the author intended.
Maybe, as a sop to your British readers, you could have him wearing a nice warm jumper with his dressy pants.

Robin Bayne said...

And I thought this post was going to address the new odorless men's underpants soon to be on the market--with anti-bacterial gunk on them so they won't stink. True story : )

lindaruth said...

I have four sons. Nothing shocks me. :)
Linda

Brenda Coulter said...

you could have him wearing a nice warm jumper with his dressy pants.

Ack! I just about fell of my chair laughing. Where are you from, Marianne? (For all the Americans who are scratching their heads, a "jumper" is a sweater.)

In my first book, Finding Hope the hero is a short-fused surgeon who is dying for some sleep but has been awakened twice by his brother; first with a phone call and now...

An hour later he was awakened by the insistent chiming of his doorbell. Outraged, Charles whipped back the sheets and threw his long legs over the side of his bed. He knew very well who was ringing, so he didn't bother to pull on his pants before he strode to the door of his apartment. His strength spent, he allowed his weary body to sag against the doorframe. "Tom, do you want to die?" he asked tiredly.

Although I didn't spell it out, I was thinking about a guy answering his door in a modest pair of boxer shorts. Heaven knows what somebody like Neal would have thought!

Neal? Neal? Somebody get the smelling salts.

And somebody look this up, because it's possible Chris Mikesell is pulling my leg--did pirates really wear pantaloons? Call me skeptical. It's really difficult to imagine a hulky guy wearing pantaloons as he goes around saying, "Aargh!"

Uh, Robin, I'll let you address that other story on your blog. I treasure all six of my readers, and I'd really like to keep them.

Brenda Coulter said...

Hey! Everybody click over right now and read this description of an eBay auction for leather pants.

Chris said...

Question my word-fu do ya?

Pantaloons definition (M-W); I would've been going with definition 2, although here's a def-3 pirate.

I was not refering to the woman's undergarment mistakenly refered to as pantaloons (see paragraph 2, line 3; possibly not safe for work/NSFW)--although I'm sure some pirates did wear them, especially if they were named Francois or "Really Jolly" Roger--because pants (in all their forms) and underwear are two very different things.

Howzat?

--Chris (dFm)

Brenda Coulter said...

Okay....

I just have to wonder about a guy who can so quickly produce a link to a site about Victorian undergarments. I think I'll choose to believe you're just very good with Google. ;-)

Didja check out the leather pants auction?

Chris said...

Yes. An unfortunate purchase indeed.

--Chris (dFm)

Chris said...

Brenda said: "I just have to wonder about a guy who can so quickly produce a link to a site about Victorian undergarments."

That's what reading a Romance will do to a guy. I blame you.

--Chris (dFm)

Julana said...

mama mia

Katy said...

Brenda--Well, if this post doesn't beat all! I thought I was the queen of the panty posts, but you've definitely outdone me. I'm going to need to take lessons from the master, evidently... :)

Brenda Coulter said...

Katy, I had no idea these people would be so interested in a discussion on underwear. Now I'm thinking about doing an underwear post every Friday to increase my blog traffic. ;-)

Bernita said...

I have it on good authority that the Brits used to refer to trousers as ..um.."bags".
Dear me.

M. C. Pearson said...

Hmmm~ I've known commandos before but never had the guts to ask them about undergarments...I just jumped over from Bonnie Calhoun's blog. This is great. I'll have to check out your webpage too. I'm also a writer but not of romance. I'm a Chrisian Fantasy wannbe published writer. I bet I could still use some of your pointers.

Never heard about the 'pants' thing from Brits but I'm not too shocked (although they most likely are!)

Brenda Coulter said...

I've known commandos before but never had the guts to ask them about undergarments...

Well, I'm sure that saved you a good thrashing, M.C. ;-) Thanks for reading my blog.

Bernita, I'm guessing that "bags" were the old-timey things with enough fabric to cover several extra pairs of legs.

Julie said...

I read my husband's packing list when he got deployed to Camp Commando (which is in Kuwait). Somewhere near the end it included "Drawers, 6 pr. brown or white (optional)"

You just never know with those commando types.

Brenda Coulter said...

Forget the list, Julie; what we're all dying to know is what your man (and his comrades) actually packed.

Julie said...

LOL, Brenda!!! I can't answer for anybody else, but I sent my hubby off with approximately twice the recommended quantity of underwear. Who knows what kind of laundry opportunities are available at Camp Commando?

Heather Diane Tipton said...

LOLOL You know, this is a really cool post to come back too. (Yeah, I've been awol again. forgive me Dear Brenda. I missed your blog! I got a new part time job, started a new business, been on a couple trips, haven't been able to catch up on anyones blogs, so tonight I'm doing that, with yours being first. (LOL Aren't you happy?)

Brenda Coulter said...

Yes. Thank you.

<3<3<3