By Christopher Cudworth
For a few years in the early 2000s I experienced a strange phenomenon. Everywhere that I rode or ran or hiked there were loose panties discarded by the side of the road. I found them in parking lots too. There were thongs and hiphuggers, grannies and gross examples of Saturday Night Fever tossed out next to beer cans, cigarettes and condoms. I could hardly go for a run or a ride without finding the detritus of some lovefest or other colorful scenario. It was like someone was conducting some form of performance art installation at my expense. The World According to Panties.
And then, it stopped. I haven’t seen any purple lacy things by the road for a couple years now. No triangles of fabric bearing kitty cats or skulls. Suddenly the whole panty thing vanished. I don’t know why. But I might have a clue. We’ll get to that toward the end of today’s blog.
But first let us consider this whole panty thing in a fuller context, so to speak.
Because just this week a marketing piece addressed to me from Victoria’s Secret showed up in the mail. Somehow my name got on their mailing list years ago and once in a while they ship me an offer for free panties. Usually I dutifully hand these along to my daughter and say “Have at it.”
Like millions of young women in America, her collection of underthings could probably be crumpled into a ball and held in one fist. I know this because I regularly transfer her laundry from the washing machine to the dryer, then on to the big table where we sort the clothes.
But you have to be diligent to avoid sending the panties along with the towels or somesuch. Panties cling to other layers of clothing like a Tom Cruise character sneaking up the side of a building in a Mission Impossible movie. Panties in the laundry always look like they’re up to mischief.
When the Victoria’s Secret mailer showed up this time I noticed that there was a coupon for a free pair of Hiphugger panties. So I asked my companion if she would like those and she told me “Yes, those are cute.”
I know that discussing panties can be an indelicate topic. One of my riding buddies once engaged in a quite firm discussion with his wife about riding commando in her cycling shorts. He insisted to her that bike shorts were designed to protect everything down there.
“Not going to happen,” she told him.
He pursued the subject a bit further. Out of curiosity of course. She shut him down. “This topic is closed,” she responded.
That leaves the whole panties and underthings topic a bit of a mystery in the minds of some men. Yet the earthier women among us are all too glad to tell us why women wear certain bits of clothing, especially panties under bike shorts or other athletic wear. It has a practical purpose in terms of hygiene and protection as well as a sense of propriety. So there. Now you know all you need to know.
That does not stop the whole panties subject from leaning toward blatant titillation at times. Walking into any Victoria’s Secret is very much like walking into the candy store as a kid. There are Sweet Tarts and Sweet Hearts and a whole range of other treats if you know where to look. It’s all just eye candy. And women seem to love them too. It’s almost like they want their butts to look cute. Imagine that.
A real workout
There’s also an exercise section at Victoria’s Secret these days. The bras look much more pushup affairs than humble JogBras. They also cost a ton. The sexier stuff ain’t cheap. It never is. Another Catch-22 of the bra and panty world is that the more you spend the less you get sometimes. If you bitch about that, all it takes is for someone to hold up a pair of $9.99 granny panties and you’ll gladly pay twice that for 1/10th the fabric. Bring it on.
The same holds true for running shorts and cycling gear. A simple pair of racing shorts from Nike or Reebok or Newton or whatever costs about $45 these days. They are made of light fabric that you can hardly feel when you are running. Same goes for skinsuits in cycling. The whole purpose of workout wear these days is to feel and sometimes look like you’re essentially naked. There’s nothing between you and the world except a fiber-thin layer of fabric. If you’re lucky it holds your personal effects in place. Just don’t try to carry your keys. They’ll poke you in the crotch.
Some runners and cyclists have dispensed with the clothing ruse altogether. You can enter UndieRuns and Naked Bike Rides where the outfit of the day is your underwear or nothing at all. That’s called getting down to basics.
As I wandered through the Victoria’s Secret store at our local mall it occurred to me that there must be a giant panty factory somewhere in central China pumping out zillions of panties a day. Who really knew? Unless you spend time thinking about the incredible variety and styles of panties available on the market, you don’t really know what’s out there. So to speak.
But as I stood there considering the vast panty universe, a wry. soft-spoken gal with a British accent sidled up beside me at Victoria’s Secret. “They’re fayvh for twenty-five dollahs,” she told me in her thick English coo. “That means you’ll get the sixth payrh fffree. And you can chewwse from any shelf you want for those.”
Why, that little tart. She’s trying to sell me on a little naughty business. Here I was, all innocent and focused and such, sticking to the respectable rack (no pun intended) with the Hiphugger panties that matched the coupon. Now she was pointing me toward a tempting pile of lacy things two tables over.
I feel a tightness in my throat and decide that it’s too much to handle at the moment. My brain can’t process that many styles of panties it. Some have so little fabric they should not qualify as clothing. They are essentially a series of filigreed holes with straps connecting them.
Some other day. The pairs I’ve chosen for my gal will be a surprise and a treat, but anything more will have to wait. I scrape my eyes off the back of my Scattante sunglasses and head for the checkout counter.
Those really lacy ones won’t do much good under bike shorts anyway. That’s the only real reason I was buying these panties for my gal anyway. Really. I mean that. My imagination was firmly focused on the task at hand. I swear it. There are no innuendos in this paragraph at all. It was the coupon’s fault. That’s what brought me there. No ulterior motives. (insert cricket sound here…)
At the check out counter the truth emerges. I turn to the checkout gal and say, “I’ll have to buy a bottle of wine to match each pair.” I don’t know why I said it. Perhaps I wanted to prevent any intimation that I might be buying those panties for myself. I’m sure they see the full spectrum of interests at Victoria’s Secret. There are all kinds of tastes in this world.
And who knows? Maybe a nice pair of panties under those cycling or running shorts would actually make you faster? if you’re a guy who gets turned on by a nice set of panties, why not try it out sometime? Remember the character in Bull Durham who wore the garters under his baseball uniform? They helped him loosen up and throw harder. So to speak.
Which might just might explain why all those roadside panties seemed to disappear. Perhaps there are enough men out there that have uncovered the fact that sexy panties makes them faster?
Don’t lie to me. You’d do anything to take a minute of your 10K time or 15 minutes off your marathon. If throwing on a hot set of panties on under your cycling kit or running shorts would help you gain a 20% increase in speed you’d do it in a heartbeat. It’s perfectly legal even in the Tour de France. And they do understand kinkiness in France, I believe.
But even here in America we’re all in the same game. Like the Kinks once sang:
Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.
It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world…Except for Lola.
So go get your Lola on, guys and gals. If a pair of lacy whatnots is going to improve your PR or help you become an Ironman (so to speak) then who’s to say it’s not a good training and racing strategy? Don’t be so damned uptight! The gal with the hot British accent at Victoria’s Secret will help you choose a pair of paintes that fits your needs and helps you find your speed. Whatever that might mean. Enjoy yourself. It’s the secret to success.