Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Whitey Tighties and Athletic Supporters

On the list for school supplies for 7th grade in junior high school, it listed several items for gym class. A t-shirt with gym shorts, sneakers, socks and an athletic supporter were required.

“What’s an athletic supporter,” I asked my mother.

“I’ll get you one and then you‘ll see.”

The athletic supporter came in a small box with a photo of it on the box without benefit of a model. Looking at the athletic supporter it was plain enough how it was to be worn, though, filling the pouch on it proved a curiosity, at my level of physical maturity for the time. Trying the thing on, I found that it was comparable to tossing a couple of peanuts into an empty ten pound potato sack.

An inexperienced twelve-year-old could really begin to wonder about certain details not explained for lack of directions on the box. Surely, I wasn't the only 7th grader that wondered if the athletic supporter was to be worn under my whitey tighties or on the outside of my whitey tighties. What added to the confusion even more was the question of what the athletic supporter could do for a twelve-year-old that whitey tighties weren't already doing. It wasn't as if I had things bulging from the leg holes of my whitey tighties.

Unfortunately, this wasn't the sort thing that I felt that my father had any knowledge of, being that they didn't have junior high school in his childhood. He got his physical fitness from working the farm and walking five miles to school in three feet of snow with nothing but a sweater to wear. He might have been exposed to athletic supporters in high school except that he didn’t go past the eighth grade.

You would think that being an adolescent was difficult enough with the girls being taller than the boys and hormonal changes coming upon both genders that nobody explained well enough in the sixties. Not so though, some idiot had to invent athletic supporters in the late 19th century for bicycle messengers and evolve them into the mix of adolescent male confusion and insecurity. Think about it.

It’s bad enough to be a 7th grader at the bottom of the food chain in a grade 7-9 junior high school. Even worse, is to not be cool. I was never cool but I always tried to be more cool that the uncool kids. Now how on earth can you be cool in junior high gym class if you can’t fill a jock strap, much less, know whether to wear it on the inside or the outside of your whitey tighties?

The first day of gym class was a bit of a trauma. I hesitated before changing to see what the other boys were doing. Most of the younger boys quickly stripped down to their whitey tighties and dressed their gym clothes over top of them. The older boys stripped down to that which was endowed to them by their maturity.

I didn't want to get caught staring but there was no doubt that the older boys had more than berries in a bush. Those guys were sporting the grapes of wrath, in comparison to my beanie boys which were hiding tight to my lower abdomen, in little more than a fuzzy Lipton teabag. I won’t even mention the contrast in the other, male only, appendage.

One thing that I learned, for certain, was that, before the jock strap went on, the whitey tighties came off and stayed off. I pushed my jockstrap underneath of my street clothes, in my gym bag, and pulled my gym shorts on over my whitey tighties. I just wasn't quite ready for butt-less underwear even if I could work up the nerve to bare the beanie boys to the whole junior high school gym class.

Late in the school year of 7th grade the beanie boys had matured to the point that I had started acting like a ninth grader and wearing a jockstrap with no underwear. I wasn't sporting the grapes of wrath, by any stretch of imagination, but I could, at least, make some use the pouch in a jockstrap.

I walked out onto gym floor for class one day to find most of the boys shooting hoops. This was the usual warm-up. I caught movement, in my peripheral vision as I scanned the activity, in search of my friends. Suddenly, I was standing there with my gym shorts around my knees and the full moon shining from my butt-less underwear.

The movement that I had noticed was a stealthy ninth grader who had been swooping by seventh graders and dropping their shorts for amusement of him and his friends. There is nothing dignified about being on the gym floor with your butt hanging out, nor is there any dignified means to recover from this situation. I bent down, pulled up my shorts and went about my normal gym routine. However, that incident cured me of wearing a jockstrap for the remainder of the school year.


  1. teenagers come with embarrassment in many ways, this was one! :)
    my best,

    1. The trials of adolescence...
      Thanks for the read and comment, Sue!