By Pico Triano
As a college student back in the eighties, one of the our requirements was to have a number of physical education credits to get our degrees. Our gym uniform consisted of a purple t-shirt, white shorts and white socks (no stripes allowed). The shorts were very high quality and seems to outlast every other pair of shorts I owned.
Toward the end of my college career I progressively travelled more and more by bicycle. Those shorts of course came with. The further I toured the more I tried to travel light. I brought minimal clothes with, which of course always included those shorts.
Washing clothes on tour got done whenever I could find a laundromat. For me it was always the same routine. I washed everything except the underwear I was wearing and my white shorts. Those would get washed separately at the next opportunity. Boxer wearing Americans will immediately see the problem with this. Being a Canadian though, I didn't quite make the same connection. Canadian men and boys embraced coloured underwear long before their American counterparts. I remember going to summer camp in Minnesota. You could separate the Canadians from the Americans based on the colour of their underwear.
The laundry wasn't the only time I stripped down to those shorts. I had no problem washing in public as long as I was wearing my gym shorts, after all I was decent. I did notice people looking at me funny though but just shrugged it off. People stare when you're travelling by bicycle anyway. Being regarded as a bit eccentric stopped bothering me a long time ago. Keep in mind I was attending college and cycling in California not Canada.
Then came the day I had to run from my dorm to the local grocery store. I couldn't find anything but a white t-shirt to wear with my white gym shorts. My only thought was that some one might think I just stepped off the tennis court. When I got there I ran into one of my basketball teammates who loudly greeted me with, “Pico! What are you doing here in your underwear?” In that moment it all became clear to me.