Today, I selected a crisp white fundoshi after stepping out of the shower and toweling off. It's a bright, sunny day, highlighting the green branches and casting sharp shadows onto the grass. Hot and bright, but not too humid. Perfect, really.
Standing in front of a window fan dries my skin off completely; and feeling cool and dry, I let the fundoshi cloth drop from my hipbones to the tops of my ankles, then toss this portion of the cloth over my left shoulder. This is one of my oldest fundoshi, from when I was experimenting to find the perfect width, so it's a little wider than most of the fundoshi I've made -- about 15 inches. I actually like this variation. It gathers slightly more as I cinch it tight, but those extra lines and soft shadows on the pouch and belt that the cloth forms look striking and elegant. I feel like a living brush painting, a sensitively-rendered watercolor in motion.
As I draw the cloth back between my legs, then around the curve of my right hip, I take a look into a full-length mirror that is leaning against the wall, normally hidden by the open bedroom door. I haven't gotten quite as much sun as I'd like, but I'm starting to show some color, and the blinding white of the fresh fabric accentuates the contrast. I've stepped up my exercise routine lately, and I stop to evaluate my progress.
Continuing to draw the band across my belly and hipbones, I cross over the piece that's cast over my shoulder, trapping it against my body and forming the first layer of the pouch that encloses my loins. Then the "belt" I'm forming is drawn the rest of the way around my waist, tucked under the part that comes up between my buttocks, and cinched tight just below the small of my back. Now I let the part that was over my shoulder drop toward the floor, since it is secured at my waist by the belt portion.
Now, the "apron" part that hangs to my ankles is drawn back between my legs, forming the outer layer of the pouch. I give it a single twist just behind my balls -- it helps get the shape right, I think -- and pull it upwards between my cheeks, looping it under the cloth from the first pouch layer, which I had temporarily tucked beneath the belt at my back.
Today, I've opted to wind the cloth as little as I can, laying it flat against my skin instead of twisting it as I go. I think of this as a more casual, comfortable fundoshi, and the flatter cloth fits better under clothes. As I pull the last 8 or so inches back to the left, drawing the fundoshi snug, I tuck it under the belt, then draw it tight again, tuck, draw, tuck, draw, tuck. The last little bit of fabric is hidden away in a fold of the belt. I repeat this on the right side.
There are days when I tie a perfect fundoshi, and if today isn't one of them it's darn close. The white fabric is drawn just tight enough. I feel snugly contained, but have total freedom of movement; and as I draw on a silver-gray pair of slacks, cut a little bit like a pair of jeans, and tuck my fundoshi-clad hips in and zip up, I nearly forget I'm wearing anything out of the ordinary. On goes a white t-shirt and a dark brown long-sleeve shirt, and I'm off to work!
I'm on my feet a lot at work, and up and down ladders. I think about my fundoshi a few times through the day, but mostly I forget it's there. The parts against my back that are wound around each other are slightly visible (if you're looking for them) below my belt, but I doubt anybody else notices or gives it a second thought. We don't really analyze every fold and wrinkle of peoples' articles of clothes, we just accept that fabric behaves the way it does, and our mind fills in the blanks and connects the dots. People might remember the gray pants and the brown shirt, but other than that we tend to take snapshots with our eyes and gloss over minor details.
So I can wear fundoshi under my clothes, in public, with complete confidence. I appreciate the extra support, especially on the ladder, and the "secret" status of my underwear brings me a private delight. It's exactly why people wear red underwear on New Years, or to important meetings -- an extra confidence boost. It's why we wear our nicest pair out on dates. I feel sensuous and empowered and relaxed all at once.
When I have to use the restroom, I just unzip my trousers and slide the fabric of the pouch to one side. When I'm done, I tuck everything back into place, smooth the fundoshi, and I'm zipped back up and ready to go!
Maybe it's in my head, but it seems like fundoshi helps my posture. I stand up straighter, and partly because I can see myself in my mind's eye wearing only the fundoshi -- and fundoshi and slouching really don't go together well at all.
When the day is over, I head home, make a snack, and open a beer. I like to read Mojo magazine, and there's an interview with Bill Callahan from Smog in a recent issue I haven't had a chance to read yet. So I relax on the couch for a while, listening to some music (The Silver Apples' surprisingly current-sounding 1968 electronic album). Dinner is with two friends, we make some tilapia and talk. Afterwards, I do a little time-wasting on the internet and prepare for bed.
Sometimes I wear my fundoshi to sleep, other times I opt for conventional undies or PJs. Today is one of the latter, so I unlace the white fabric and let it fall to my ankles. Then it's tossed into the laundry basket along with t-shirt and socks. I pull on some pajama bottoms, crawl into bed and lay on my back. I feel refreshed and relaxed, not bad for a work day.
My mind wanders around, occasionally tripping back to this morning when I surveyed my body in the mirror wearing only a freshly-tied fundoshi: evaluating my arm muscles, and my shoulders. Checking out the slight V-groove that descends past my waist and disappears into the folds of the fundoshi pouch. I'm looking a little better! Summer time is motivating in this regard -- trips to the beach and work in the yard all encourage me to kick my bad exercise habits from the colder months.
With that, I drift off...
(full disclosure: I wrote this the following day, thus I can write about falling asleep and such)