Skivvies On Parade

I'll try to make this brief.

What is it about boxer shorts? How did undies on display become teen haute couture? And can a soft-drink machine really be used to sell skivvies?

Our barely teenage daughter and her friends now think nothing of absconding with dad's most outrageous boxers for use as pajamas. (Sociologists have already traced a rise in early a.m. tension in US households to dads hunting for missing shorts.)

"They're cool, Dad," Eldest Daughter explains, with a look that says no further explanation is required.

The skivvymakers claim not to have plumbed this mystery. But they do confirm it. "Half of our boxers are bought by women," says Luanne Calvert, marketing director for Joe Boxer Corp. "What we don't know is whether they're buying them for their boyfriends, sons, or as sleepwear."

My theory: Those that aren't used as pj's are proudly exhibited - at least the top third - by boys around the nation.

And I suspect a clothing cabal. When teen boys began wearing pants large enough hide an SUV in each leg, droopy jeansmakers made a pact with boxermakers to fill the esthetic gap between the former waistline and the sag line.

Now, Joe Boxer is taking the outting of underwear a step further. Next month, at airports, hotels, college dorms, and fitness centers, it will begin selling its wares from Undo Vendo. Swipe your credit card ($14 to $18 a pair), make your selection, and the machine spits out a vacuum-packed can of undies. It speaks, too. One joke per purchase: "Seen the newest pirate movie? I hear it's Arrrgh-rated."

Ouch. Joe Boxer may be onto something. But it's not the youth market (or comedy). My advice: Put the machines in train stations. Dads can grab a pair on the way home, thus parrying pj theft and the resulting shortage of shorts.

* We're home. Let us know how we're doing. Write to the Homefront Editor, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail

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