Register Wednesday | June 26 | 2019

A Thong Problem

A few years ago I was in a meeting at work when I glanced over at the girl sitting next to me. She was leaning forward, resting her head in her hands, and her low-rise jeans had slid halfway down her ass. Her thong rested on her hips, while the rest of it extended down into a tight little T shape.

Later on in the day she was going through some boxes in her office, bent over, her back to the door. Thong to the wind. I walked in and closed the door.

“Beth,” I said, making up a name here so no one knows who I’m talking about, “I didn’t know if you knew this, but your thong is sticking out of your pants.”
“No, I’m not. I just thought that.” And I walked out. Quickly.

Later in the day she came up to me. “That was really embarrassing.”
“I didn’t mean to embarrass you. It’s just that I thought you’d want to know.”
“No, don’t tell me that kind of stuff.”
“I didn’t mean it in any inappropriate way,” I said, hoping she knew that I really didn’t mean it in any inappropriate way.
“I know you didn’t. You just shouldn’t have pointed that out.”
“Because it embarrassed me.”
“I wasn’t trying to embarrass you. I actually thought you weren’t aware. I didn’t want people gawking.”
“You’re the only straight guy in the office.”

This must be one of those areas where men and women differ that everyone talks about. Because if I was walking around work with my fly open, if my dick was hanging out and wagging around, I would pray to God someone would be gauche enough to embarrass the hell out of me. “Dude,” I hope they would say, “You’re dick’s hanging out.” That would be a wardrobe malfunction, one I would hope the people I work with would correct post haste. Actually, if it took my co-workers to notice this, I’d wonder what the hell was wrong with the people I passed on the way to work, sat next to on the subway. Some things just beg to be corrected.

Of course, it turns out her thong bearing was actually something of an intentional thing. Well, not intentional. It was collateral damage in the war between stylishness and functionality. And I’m going to sound like an old man here, but I just don’t understand the fucking point.

This is not going to be some credo against thong showing pants. The rise in low hugging jeans has opened the window to a world no man would ever turn away from. If there was ever proof that Britney Spears was sent by God above (as if she wasn’t proof enough as it is—I mean, are you watching this hot Chihuahua train wreck?), her entire mess of a singing career is justified in the clear shirt, the peeping top of the bra, the raised skirt line, and the protruding thong.

Bless each and every one of you, I say. It’s about time women weren’t ashamed of what their gene pool granted. Shake what your mama gave you women; enjoy the power found in taughtality, because it’s a power few of you truly understand how to wield properly. And those who do, well I just melt, powerless and in awe at your presence. It can be great art, it truly can be.

Here’s where I start to sound like a crotchety old man: When the hell did this become appropriate in the work place? I do not work in a field of suits and ties; no khakis and button downs with our threaded belts and loafers; the magazine industry is incredibly lax when it comes to dress code. My normal outfit consists of pants worn at the bottoms, baggy at that, perhaps a button down or form fitting T-shirt, sometimes a truckers’ hat or sweat bands on one wrist; I can wear tennies if I want, but usually sport my Aldo’s. The women are fine and fashionable in the best sense of the word. The don’t wear today’s fashions; they wear things that hit the streets 2 years from now, and probably hit the Midwest a year or 2 after that. They wear such an amazingly diverse array of bobbles and trinkets and skirts and loose pants and shirts that at times it makes me want to be a woman. The freedom they can express at times is enough to go blind and be content that the last thing you saw was of a wondrous, extemporized type of genius rarely captured.

I was the first one cheering when the thong came back into fashion, as a normal, everyday kind of underwear, not just kept in a drawer for those frisky nights. I’ve lowered my fair share of pants, and gasped in awe at the beauty that the female body can be, most of the time, but particularly when adorned in such a simple thing. It’s enough just to get behind someone, to bend them delicately, to stare and lose yourself at the easy curve the lower extremities have in women. Low-rise jeans are a wonderful thing on a Saturday night, so wield it like a Samurai does a sword, like Courtney Love does a swear word. Masters, all of them.

Over the last few years I’ve started to notice that, when I walk up on my interns, a bundle of papers in my hand, and explanation for the thing I’m about to give them, the same thing they are probably going to fuck up in a manner even I couldn’t anticipate, that I have to take a second to regroup before I begin. I just didn’t expect to see a half moon rising on such a sunny day. And I want to tell them that as smart as I think they are, as capable as they usually prove themselves to be over time, as much as I would like to help them crack the door of this industry, I also have a hard time taking them seriously when I can see their underwear, nay, when I can see the tops of their ass half the time we’re talking. It worked for Superman, but he could also fly and stop bullets with his teeth.

The plumbers crack was not a good thing on men. And while I find the female body to be all the proof I need at times to prove the divine (there are few things on this Earth more beautiful, more purposeful, more confoundingly complicated than the body of a woman and the unbelievable person housed within) I wonder at times what the hell they were thinking when they got to work on time.

And, yes, I’m ready to admit that what I’m saying is sexist, if someone would only show me that it is, and I’m more than willing to be wrong on this, but I just can’t see that work is the place for the thong to hold court. It makes no sense. And maybe I’m just asking for the ladies to save me and my hetero brethren from ourselves, or maybe I’m asking them to demand we take them as seriously as they deserve to be taken. But to me, the thong is a part of the game, and thing of the chase, that hidden realm, the peak of uncharted and not understood territory, and the tuft that lies beneath.

And I’m not asking for anything to change really, this is not a missive against the thong. Bless the thong. Long live the thong and the jeans from which they jump. After work and on the weekend, every day should be thong day.

There’s a guy I used to work with who used to insist on wearing leather pants from time to time. This is not equitable to the thong, probably because I’m not all that attracted to the idea of leather pants, not drawn to the thing within, but it had a similar effect on me.

“Geoff,” I’d say, “I warned you before, but you can’t possibly expect me to take anything you say in this meeting seriously if you’re going to insist on wearing those fucking pants.” And we’d both have a good laugh at this, but the thing was, I was only partly joking. Because it’s really hard to pay proper due to what someone’s saying, no matter how salient the point, when they are wearing cowhide.

I’m generally a remarkably open minded person. I have opinions and views that it could be said very few people share with me. I’m one of the most empathetic people I know. But maybe all of this is some patriarchal mindset instilled in me by the system. Or maybe it’s just that you cannot listen to a woman map out the nuances of a story she is working on, and pay her ideas the respect they are due, when half of her ass is mounting a jailbreak from her pants, and her poor thong is straining at its limits to keep the damn thing from running away.

Today a co-worker and I were having coffee outside, talking about this interview we were struggling to nail down, brainstorming ways to get the two parties we needed involved when a woman walking by dropped her keys. They clanged on the ground and drew attention to her scoop. She bent, her back turned to us, and I don’t think she was wearing any underwear at all, because her pants just kept sliding down, her ass just kept cresting, and we just kept staring.

“Damn,” he said after she had walked away.
“Yeah,” I said. “Wow.”

On most issues I’m content in the fact that most men are stupid, most white men even more so, and it’s on us to adjust our ideas and tactics and make way for a changing world. But this cannot be one of those issues. Can it?

Maybe no one cares. I could be the only person who this really bothers, in which case I will accept my crotchetiness on the issue and go my own way, content to be, for once, mistaken.

But I really doubt that I am.