Call it the Mysterious Case of the Gigantic Underpants.
It began the other day as I was puttering around the kitchen, rummaging in the fridge for things that would taste good when layered between two slices of bread.
Suddenly and without warning, She Who Must Not Be Named, burst in with a confused look on her face.
"What are these?" she demanded, clutching what I first assumed was the billowing sail from a three-masted schooner, but on closer inspection turned out to be the largest underpants I have ever seen in my life.
I am not exaggerating when I use the term gigantic. These were circus tent-sized underpants, the kind of elephantine briefs that could easily conceal a dozen full-grown clowns along with the tiny clown car they rode in on.
It seems my wife discovered the enormous underpants while rooting around in my sock drawer. Holding the stupendous skivvies aloft and stretching them as far as possible to test their tensile strength, she fired off a series of probing questions.
"Why do you have such a big pair of underpants?" she demanded. "Where did you get them? Did you borrow them from the Jolly Green Giant?"
For all you would-be husbands out there, this is just the kind of thing you can expect in a modern marriage. One moment you are in the kitchen searching for tasty sandwich ingredients; the next moment, your suspicious spouse is subjecting you to the third-degree because she has stumbled on a pair of underpants King Kong would refuse to wear on the grounds they aren't snug enough for his liking.
I wasn't sure how to respond, because in the heat of the moment I did not immediately recall the origin of the big briefs.
This did not prevent my wife from making the most of her discovery. "LOOK AT ME!" she shrieked in obvious delight, stepping into the super-sized skivvies and pulling them over her yoga pants like the world's biggest diaper.
Then, clenching the elasticized waistband to prevent the underpants from falling to the floor, she waddled into the den to model them for our daughter, who wondered aloud if they once belonged to Jabba the Hutt.
Not that I am embarrassed, but this seems as good a time as any for me to pause and share a few breaking underpants-related news items that have been making headlines around the globe.
In our first brief about briefs, the French clothing brand Hermes is offering the perfect Christmas gift on its website -- a pair of woven boxers with a hefty price tag of $470. Yes, for a single pair of skivvies. For that price, you could buy yourself a big-screen TV, although it probably wouldn't be as comfortable.
Next, movie fans will be thrilled to hear Jockey International Inc. has released a line of old-school underpants inspired by the upcoming comedy Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, in which comedian Will Ferrell reprises his role as inane TV newsman Ron Burgundy. The marketing campaign for the retro underwear, which come in "Sex Panther Red" and "Beard of Zeus Blue," advises guys to, quote: "Give your little anchorman the support he deserves."
Finally, in an effort to make the world a better place, a husband and wife team of researchers from Israel has just developed a system that will allow you, the consumer, to produce your own underpants at home.
According to a story I read and partially understood, they have created something called "cosyflex" -- a stretchy, biodegradable fabric that, with the aid of a 3D printer, can be turned into a pair of disposable underpants in less than three seconds.
Getting back to our mystery, as my wife was parading around in the gigantic underpants, it dawned on me they'd arrived months ago, sent by my mother, along with dozens of pairs of huge socks, as a birthday gift.
That's just the way old-school mothers roll. In a constant effort to remind me of the pain she endured bringing me into this world, my mother likes to send gifts of clothing that are large enough to cover my barbecue, with enough room left over to shelter the lawnmower. I suppose it's possible I may eventually grow into the gigantic underpants, but before that happens I will have to write my mom a lovely thank-you note.
I will try to be brief.