This past weekend, Daryl, the eleven year old, announced that he had no clean underwear. We had recently removed the much-too-small oldest underwear from his supply and he was running short. I had purchased some more but was saving them for that oh-so-favorite Christmas gift. But now he was out. I offered him the much-too-small pairs that he had been wearing just a week or two ago but apparently they were no longer acceptable. And asking him to wear dirty underwear when I had ten clean pairs tucked away in my closet seemed petty and gross.
So I announced with as much enthusiasm as I could muster that he was going to get part of a Christmas present early! Yay! And then I opened the package of new underwear and extracted a pair. Gosh, it looked so big! I took it into him and he frowned at me. “That’s going to be too big,” he said.
“Just try them,” I responded.
He did and they fit just fine. As I folded laundry later that weekend, I thought about how hard it had been getting to tell Hal’s underwear apart from Daryl’s. Now, as I folded my husband’s, I thought about how it was going to get harder to tell Daryl’s from Daddy’s.
And that reminded me of a major source of contention between my brother and our step-dad. My brother had a really bad habit of stealing our step-dad’s underwear. I can’t recall now whether he extracted them from the laundry before it got sorted or if he actually ventured into his room to steal them out of the drawers. At any rate, he was always walking around in Bill’s underwear and Bill was always irritated.
So one Christmas, or maybe it was for Bill’s birthday, I hatched a plan. I bought a package of underwear and stitched colorful “B”s on the fly of them. Some were small, some were quite large. All were brightly colored. When he opened them, I triumphantly announced that now my brother could not claim that he didn’t know the underwear he was wearing was not his. Problem solved.
It wasn’t too long before my brother was seen walking the house in underwear with bright “B”s stitched on the fly.
Today would have been Bill’s 66th birthday. He left us nearly nine years ago when his cancer returned with a vengeance. I’m pleased that memories like this one still return periodically and still make me smile.