It is as if love–parental, brotherly, or sexual–is the undershirt and pants of the speaker’s inner wardrobe.
Sara Lodge, “An English Chill,” regarding British writer M.R. James
A boy’s mother comes first in his heart, of course, and can never be displaced by another. She, unlike every other woman a man may chance to meet in his life, actually carried him within her for 9 months, enduring comments from strangers such as “Oh, you’re carrying that baby low–must be a boy!” and importunate pats on the tummy in crowded elevators. She deserves all the love you can give her ’til the day she dies.
And yet to express this love to the world at large is viewed as sentimental; a mark that a man is tied to his mum’s apron strings and can’t be trusted in the bridge of a battleship, the C-suite of a public company, the fund-raising committee of the Walk to End Osgood-Schlatter Disease. This affection–so strongly held–it is the tighty-whitey of his inner wardrobe.
Next in line for a boy’s affection is/are his beloved sister(s). Yes, they get you in trouble by saying things like “I bet you can’t snap me with your belt from there,” then crying like holy hell and earning you a spanking when you prove them wrong.
Or the time they perfumed the cat and told you not to tell, then when your mom says “Who sprayed Kitzie with my Midnight in Paris?” all you said was “I don’t know her name, but her initials are Verna Louise–oops!”
A boy’s brotherly love for his sister(s)? Really, truly, special. It is the “guinea” or “wife beater” of his inner wardrobe.
And then there’s the woman you marry; the woman for whom you forsake all others, plighting your troth, whatever in the hell that is. Most men don’t even know they have troths to plight until it’s too late.
She’s the one whom you pretend to listen to when she’s going on and on and on about–window treatments, like swags and jabots. Why do they call them “window treatments”? Isn’t that gilding the lily just a bit? Is that any way to treat a window?
No, that woman is really, truly special. So special she has a language all her own–a one-woman linguistic group!–that violates the principle of non-contradiction that has governed Western logic since the time of Aristotle.
When she says “Don’t get me anything for my birthday, we can’t afford it. We need to pay down our credit cards and replace the washing machine,” what she means is “Don’t even think about getting me some crummy Hallmark card for my birthday and calling it a day. You’d better get me something that comes in a small package and sparkles or shines, and I don’t mean a box of paper clips from Staples.”
She–she truly is the boxer shorts of your inner wardrobe.