14 May 2011

'Going Commando'

from The History of Underwear by Shaun Cole

I don't have a kilt but the idea of wearing wool next to bare skin leaves me slightly...anxious. Like the first time I climbed a rope. There's that odd feeling near the top...Anyway, the old kilt story has been kicked aside by a better American story.

Special Forces bunker in Vietnam circa 1966-67

My father (on your far left) told me the heat and humidity of the jungle created biblical cases of crotch rot. Preventive maintenance consisted of sitting around in your underwear in air conditioning (they had it) while applying liberal shakes of talc. It's a lesson I ignored while training in Panama.

The expression 'Going Commando' comes from the Vietnam War. According to journalist Daniel Engber in Shaun Cole's, The History of Underwear, "...troops spent extended periods of time in hot, damp conditions, when it was more comfortable not to wear underwear."

Even Tom Ford has used the expression, "I always go commando; I never wear underwear...My mother keeps saying, 'Please stop telling people you don't wear underwear.'" I don't have a problem with Tom not wearing underwear although his use of 'Go Commando' is not without some irony.

Castillo de San Marcos NHS, St Augustine - 1984

Today I limit commando to jeans but there was a time when authenticity and the N.P.S. demanded commando. 18th century 'small clothes' consisted of a knee length shirt and breeches made of linen. The small clothes alone acted as underwear. Once the linen went through the wash 20 or so times, the result was amazingly soft and comfortable. Enough to go commando or, as they might say at the Castillo de San Marcos, "Andar a lo gringo."


T said...

I guess that explains the wan smile on the Rangerette's face.

Anonymous said...

not wearing underwear is pretty unsanitary. maybe you should warn people when you plop your sweaty ass on down on the subway.

tintin said...

T- Wan?

Anon- Riding the subway is pretty unsanitary regardless of my sweaty ass.

Marc said...

I was interested in the photo from the Castillio de San Marcos as I am a St. Augustine native. We generally went commando all the time because we were beach bums! Thanks for bringing back great memories of a time long gone.

Anonymous said...

Always wore briefs, but those airy, authentic, supreme quality linen puffy shirts handsewn by Gudrun Hall (for the Restoration Department, anyway) made the heat almost tolerable.


Brummagem Joe said...

Donald where's your troosers?


Brohammas said...

Ahhh, historical reenactment.
I spent a large, very large, portion of my youth around bearded men in buckskins. In full disclosure I took my the fiance' to one such encampment where she was greated by a man hairy guy, full beard, wearing nothing but a breach-cloth.
We have never gone to another such event.

Jeff P. said...

Member of the Commando Brigade since 1982! Cha-Ching.

Alice Olive said...

Commando is a personal choice. But I think I agree with Tom Ford's Mum. Perhaps a sign of intimacy is that the only other person who knows you're going without is the one who removes your outer layers... (Well, it's my philosophy anyway.)

BigDaddyMan said...

Enough about you, TinTin, was your smoky bear-hatted colleague going commando in this photo?
A former Ranger/Special Forces NCO who was slumming in my college ROTC unit referred to it as "free-falling", except he swapped an "F" for a "B".

Best regards,

greatzamboni said...

Just please--- no commando in shorts or cutoffs, can we draw that line in the sand? Leads to traumatizing peaks at the wrinklies.