10 May 2011
My Boxer Story
It was 1972 and Muhammad Ali had an exhibition fight at the Hampton Coliseum. After the fight, I had a head ache for the rest of the night. Ever since, I've never been much of a boxer fan. Wait. Wrong boxers.
I had always worn briefs. A girlfriend hand embroidered a pair of yellow Hanes with Winny the Pooh on the left cheek. But my relationship with briefs came to a halt on 20 May 1976. The Army called it, The Reception Center." Two or three days before Basic Training started. No Drill Sergeants. Just fairly nice fellas in black polished helmet liners taking recruits through the mind numbing paper work of joining the Army. Haircuts, uniforms, life insurance, etc.
As the top document can attest - my "Personal Clothing Request" included six pair of, "drawers, ctn, white" but that doesn't tell the real story. We stumbled down a line through an old warehouse with an open duffel bag while the above gear was more or less thrown at us in varying degrees of speed depending on how lost you looked.
The buzz haircut, given only moments before, and the still warm, 'birth control' issued black frame glasses unfairly established some of us as looking...very lost . The key to getting through all this was keeping your mouth shut and ears and eyes open. I heard him from at least 10 recruits away, "Boxers or briefs!" in a booming and chunky thick voice that was black and belonged, I was guessing, to Louisiana or Arkansas. Maybe even Texas.
Everybody was asking for briefs. I thought back to the day before when about 80 of us went through the Army physical together. Long lines of men naked, except for briefs, and holding a manila envelope. Most of the underwear was falling apart. Almost all of it filthy. I was happy that everyone was getting new underwear. I suppose it's the Socialist in me.
"BOXERS OR BRIEFS, SHITHEAD!" the loud chunky voice yelled. I snapped out of my daydream and shouted back, "BOXERS, SERGEANT!" But I didn't want boxers. The boxers came sailing at my head. I grabbed them and, I will never forget this, I said, "Can I get briefs instead?" The chunky voiced sergeant looked at me -- In my birth control glasses and shaved head. His mouth opened and he breathed in deep. I must have made his day. Maybe even week.
That's how I became a Boxer man. How about you?
Tomorrow: My Boxer Story: Part II