I was shopping in a department store and had the pleasure of overhearing a mother and her (approximately) sixth grade son having a conversation. They were in the men’s underwear section and the son was not particularly happy with the experience.

The boy says to his mother, “Why do all these packages have men on the packages? Why can’t they show women wearing the underwear?”

We all know the obvious and most clearly correct answer. Don’t write about that. Instead, your challenge this week is to devise a sociological, psychological, or other intellectually infused explanation for why underwear manufacturers don’t sell their product using irrelevant images like other businesses do.

Stupid Questions R Us. I used to work in advertising, an industry about which it can be said — without fear of argument or contradiction — there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

calvin klein underwear

Or, for that matter, a stupid answer. It is an industry with a passion for stupidity. It embraces it. An industry in which the demographic bottom line makes a slow third-grader look like a budding Einstein.

When I worked at Doubleday, we used to put warning labels on books. “Warning: May contain sexually explicit material.

Usually, there was no sexually explicit material. It was boilerplate and we put it on boring books to make them look spicy. We received complaints, too, from our customers. Who had sought in vain for The Good Parts, but had found nothing but … literature.

We pointed out we had said “MAY contain sexually explicit material.” We hadn’t actually promised it did. No guarantees, implicit, implied, or whatever.


In the name of pure research, I asked my husband if he, as a man (not as my husband, as a reporter, or as an otherwise intelligent human being) thought naked women in men’s underwear advertising would be a good idea. He said (and I quote): “Well, it would probably be a smart advertising ploy.”

Psychological, sociological, or cultural explanations? Nah. Irrelevant. It’s about money. Advertisers will do anything to sell the product.

Sex sells. It always has. Always will. Put a naked body on the cover of any book and it will sell better (not to me, but to somebody somewhere). The same book without a naked person will sell fewer books. Fact, not opinion.

Getting back to the important issue of marketing men’s underwear. The kid had a point. While I think women wearing the men’s underwear might confuse customers (presumably men), as you can see, there is far from universal agreement on that point.

Of course there ought to be sexy, naked women selling men’s underwear. They should be gazing at it with longing. Rubbing it all over their bodies while they gasp with pleasure. Caressing their breasts with it.

As for the larger question — why aren’t men’s underwear manufacturers already doing this kind of advertising?  Who says they aren’t?


CORN MAIDENS AND A BEAR – Marilyn Armstrong

Among the many things I collect, Native American fetishes are among my favorites. I have a lot of them and many are tiny and intricate. Which makes them difficult to photograph and that is why you haven’t really seen them thus far.

Today I tackled my largest fetishes, my Corn Maidens. I have four, each carved from a different material and by a different carver. And I added the bear because he seemed to want to be a part of the festivities.

Each piece is a work of art. The maidens are my favorites, but I also love my bears, eagles, bobcats, mountain lions and wolves. I would have even more, but I know I suffer from collection addiction. I had to go “cold turkey.”

All the pictures were taken with my 60 mm f2.8 Olympus macro lens in natural light.



What is your favorite smell or scent?


Vanilla. It is a part of the scent of a few perfumes I love … and plain vanilla is fine. I would use it as a perfume if I didn’t feel weird doing it.


Do you prefer long hair or short hair for yourself?

selfie in mirror January 2015

Long. I must like it that way, because even when I love my short haircut, I never keep it longer than it takes to grow my hair out.

Do you plan out things usually or do you do them more spontaneous (for example if you are visiting a big city you don’t know?)

We plan anything involving significant driving. Other stuff, like going out to take pictures is always spontaneous, as is going out to dinner or a movie. On vacation, we don’t plan anything if we can avoid it.


Planning comes up mainly because so many places we need to go are long distances and a lot of driving. We have to plan around traffic, weather, parking, and light. Neither of us likes being on the road at night.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?


Garry shooting in Worcester


I’ve got a bible cyst (also known as a bible bump) on my left wrist. No kidding. It’s not quite as funny as it sounds.

It has been a nuisance for a while. Since the last round of life and death heart surgery, it has moved down the priority list from a serious problem to a minor aggravation. Everything is relative.

It’s been on my wrist for years. It’s annoying. It came and went (typical behavior for cysts) and has made it impossible to wear a watch. Hardly a medical emergency.

This is a ganglion cyst on the inner right wri...

One day, about two years ago, it blew up. Got huge. Too much typing? It hurt when I moved the wrist.

I talked to the doctor about it. He thought I should address the cyst and the arthritis in my hands at the same time.

Before that happened, the cyst deflated — and my heart blew up. It’s two years later. A lot of heart surgery, but I’ve still got the cyst, which still comes and goes. Sometimes it hurts, other times it itches. I live with it. I have bigger things on my plate.

What makes it a Bible Cyst? 

Ganglion cysts, typically located on wrists (though sometimes on knees, fingers or toes) are known as “bible cysts,” alternatively as  “Gideon’s disease.”

Why? Glad you asked. In the good old days, the treatment for ganglion cysts was to give them a hard whack with a heavy book, breaking the cyst and draining it. Since the bible was usually the heaviest book in the house (often the only book), though I’ve heard a full-size dictionary, Oxford or Webster, will do the job just fine. You see the connection, right?

Somehow, getting whacked on the cyst with a heavy book seems a solution I’d rather skip.

Ironically, the old “whack the cyst with the bible” apparently works every bit as well as any modern surgery. Better. Cysts thus whacked rarely return. I suspect the whackee would never tell anyone if it did recur. One bible whacking is probably enough for any wrist.

It gives a new meaning to the expression “bible thumper”!