Q&A: What do you say when your peer's underwear becomes outerwear?


To tell or not to tell, that is one veterinarian's question. See his answer.

I am 46 years old and have seen a lot of change in britches over the years. For example, girls of my generation wore Wranglers that went up past their belly buttons. Now many girls wear their waistbands below their bellies. Who would have ever thought that women would have to be concerned about flashing a plumber's crack?

I have three daughters, which makes me a mandatory observer of clothing trends. I will never forget the first time my daughters arrived home with pairs of these new britches. It took me a while to figure out what was wrong. My daughters came in bouncing up and down with joy over their new pants. But when they put them on to show me, it was as if they couldn't pull the pants up high enough. Further examination revealed a zipper with just three teeth.

These new pants may be cool, but they are not a good fit for a veterinarian. Our job requires a lot of bending over, especially if you work on horses. I spend half of the day tucking the back of my shirt in because I don't want anyone to have to look at my supposed-to-be-covered parts.

All of this introduction leads to a story. Weezie was a fun-loving, hard-working country girl who fit in the minute she arrived at the clinic for her externship. The only problem was that she wore pants with short zippers. I noticed her tucking her shirt in every time she would bend over or squat down.

About halfway into her first day, a wardrobe malfunction occurred. Instead of tucking her shirt into the space between her underwear and pants, she wound up tucking it between her skin and underpants. This left her white undies sticking up a few inches farther than her blue pants and resulted in a rather noticeable contrast to her blue shirt.

I noticed it when it happened. But underwear is not something you generally talk about with someone you just met, so I didn't say anything. I figured she would notice it in a minute and correct the problem, but that wasn't the case.

In fact, as time progressed, she actually pulled up the underwear as she re-tucked her shirt, resulting in a good three or four inches of very visible white panty.

Time continued to pass, and I debated telling her about her exposed underwear but couldn't bring myself to mention it. That was until a cowboy walked up to me and said, "You reckon that young lady vet student is wearing Hanes underbritches?"

I already knew she was. The waistband was about an inch wide and had Hanes written on it in big letters. You could read it from across the room.

My mind went into overdrive as I pondered what to do. Maybe that was a new style, and if I said anything, she was going to think I was a dork. Maybe she would take great offense to the fact that I was looking in the first place. Maybe she would wilt in embarrassment and wish she had never come to the clinic.

But what if it wasn't her intention, and I didn't say something, she would be mortified when she found out that she had been showing her undergarments all day. What a dilemma.

I finally decided I had better say something. But I wasn't sure what or how to say it. I was nervous as I approached her. "Miss Weezie," I asked, "are you wearing white underwear?"

Why did I say that? It just kind of rolled out of my mouth, as if my brain had shut down and that was all it could muster up.

Her eyebrows almost touched her hairline, and her mouth became a tight circle. She reached back and discovered what had happened. I still couldn't tell if she was going to be embarrassed, angry or humiliated. Suddenly, she broke out in laughter.

"My dad did this once," she said, "and we made fun of him ever since. I can't believe I did it my first day here. You probably think I'm the biggest dork in the world. Oh man, my dad is gonna laugh for an hour when he finds out."

It turns out that showing your Hanes isn't a fashion statement yet. She thanked me for telling her, and we kidded her about it the entire time she was with us.

Dr. Brock owns the Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas.

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