Akaky Bashmachkin is in receipt of boxer shorts with some sort of camouflage pattern, and while he’s certainly grateful, he’s also somewhat puzzled:
I must tell you now that I regard the sudden militarization of my underwear drawer with no small degree of trepidation. I do not know right now what my policy should be in the event these new boxers attempt to extend their control from the underwear drawer to the sock drawer or, worse yet, should they attempt a violent overthrow of my tee-shirt drawer, which may lead to a destabilization of the world underwear order and the possibility of a conflict hitherto unheard of in the annals of underwear. Appeasement does not appear to be the right policy; we all know what ultimately happens to appeasing powers when they passively face an aggressor; but nothing in the boxers’ current behavior suggests that there is any immediate cause for alarm. There is merely a vague disquiet settling over this particular chest of drawers, a troubling disquiet similar to the psychic tension that haunted Europe in the years between 1933 and 1936.
I must note here that I own garments of this sort in white, grey, black, and blue, and they seem to coexist just fine. (White, I note in passing, is a minority.)
Still, there’s something vaguely pointless about this particular pattern:
The purpose of camouflage is, as I understand it, is concealment from people who are naturally, politically, or personally hostile to you. To achieve this admirable circumstance, nature and the world’s militaries do their best to blend into their natural surroundings. Given that underwear’s natural surroundings are under your trousers, hence the origins of the word underwear, the whole point of camouflaged boxer shorts would seem an exercise in inutility, if not just plain dumb. The wearer, of course, might choose to make use of the boxers’ camouflage effect by wearing the shorts on the outside of their pants, but this will cause chafing after a while, especially on a hot day, and the practice does tend to lead to political and social upheaval in Central America, a tragic and for most part unforeseen consequence that the American political philosopher Allen Konigsberg first pointed out in the early 1970’s.
The difficulty in the banana republic in question, however, was not so much with the design, such as it is, as with the regime’s demand that the citizens change their underwear every half hour.