Wagner Writer

From ages 6-18, my twin and I visited our grandmother in Tucson almost every summer. Grammy had a neighbor we’ll call Schmimmy. He was an elementary school teacher who lived next door for years. I don’t remember much about him, other than this little gem of a memory (a gemory!) I’d like to share as a “back to school” treat:

The only time I visited Grammy alone was shortly after my 18th birthday. I’d just graduated high school and went to see her before venturing off to college. During one of my last days in Tucson, Schmimmy came over carrying a package.

Naturally, I thought it was something for Grammy (as I didn’t know him very well) but he immediately said, “I got something for your graduation, Cody.”

I’m sure I gave him the side eye for a second as I thought, Is he stalking me? But Grammy bragged about me every chance she got. She had probably been talking about my high school graduation since I was four months old.

Anyway, I didn’t question it because, you know, I had a present! I’m pretty sure I stuck out my arms and said, “Gimme gimme gimme!”

Before I could open it, though, he held up a hand. “There’s a story behind this present.”

I pulled away, like a kid who’d been told he couldn’t celebrate Christmas until “Mom does 8 more readings from the Bible.”

But I politely sat back as he began:

“College students are a bunch of thieves!” he said. “And by college students, I mean your roommates. When you finally live with friends, you all will have one thing in common: you’ll be broke as hell. And you’ll be in each other’s space constantly.”

He paused to give me his most serious look. “I learned the hard way that roommates will take your clothes, your towels, your music. Anything. And most people don’t label their stuff, so it gets impossible to tell what belongs to whom.”

I nodded along as he lifted the gift and continued, “So I started labeling my stuff. That way, if there was ever a dispute, I could prove things were mine.” He held out the package. “That’s what I’ve done for you.”

I grabbed the package and smiled, thinking it held monogrammed towels. That would have been cool! I was from a poor redneck town and thought Laverne and Shirley’s monogrammed towels were the most amazing thing ever. (SIDENOTE: I now realize their towels should have been “Hers and Hers”. BAZINGA!!)

With all that in mind, I tore into the package. Then I sat back, confused.


Tighty whiteys.

He had given me a bag of tighty whiteys. They weren’t even wrapped. Just a bunch of pairs of underwear in a bag.

I looked at Schmimmy waiting for the punch line. There wasn’t one. His face was so excited.

“See, everyone needs underwear.” He said. “And mine always turned up missing.”

I couldn’t respond.

“So that no one takes your underwear without permission,” he said, “I labelled them for you.”

Curious, I grabbed a pair of underwear and held them up:

Scorpion Underwear

A giant iron-on scorpion was right on the crotch.


I’d been given scorpion undies.

Why Scorpion Undies Are So Wrong

1. First off, tighty whiteys??? That’s the underwear you stop wearing when you turn twelve. I’m pretty sure a Bar Mitzvah ritual is taking all your tighty whiteys and burning them in a kosher pit. It’s like right after the chair dance thingy. OK I’m not Jewish, so I don’t know where that came from.

2. Who takes the time to put iron-ons on tighty whiteys???

3. And who chooses scorpions? I can’t help but think it was supposed to be an innuendo. Like I needed to say, “the stinger is in here, people” as I pointed at my crotch.

4. Why would a teacher (I barely knew) give this as a gift? Is that how people flirted back in the day? Was I just totally oblivious? Were people in the 90s giving out Valentine scorpion undies?

5. What kind of freaky-ass roommate steals your underwear?? I did the whole college thing for years. And, to some extent, Schmimmy was right: my roommates and I constantly took things from each other. But never underwear. Ever.

The Aftermath

OK now that I’ve made fun of the scorpion undies, it’s time to come clean:

I actually wore them.

DON’T JUDGE!! I’m sure everyone can relate to this rationale:

We were dirt poor in college (as I’m sure most students are). And, like most poor college students, we didn’t have a washer/dryer. Let me tell you something, people: doing laundry at a laundromat SUCKS (who’s nodding along with me here?). Oh man it sucks. It’s like a waste of an entire day. Consequently, I would cycle through my clothes over and over. I remember smelling pairs of socks in the back of my closet, hoping some were less stinky than others so I could wear them one last time (that would inadvertently turn into 2-3 more times).

And therein came the undies. When I was down to absolutely zero clean undies, I admit I’d whip out the scorpion.

OH MY GOD. That didn’t sound right. LOL! I mean I’d whip out the undies and put them on. SHEESH!

See! I had a good excuse to wear them!

The End! Seriously, we’re not talking about this anymore.

Go away!


  • Ellen Buikema
    September 1, 2015 - 5:52 pm · Reply

    Cody, I love your story. I remember the broke college days very well. Scorpion undies, that is hilarious.

    One small change to suggest, a tiny typo – “I learned the heard (hard) way

    Wonderful read, thanks!


    • Cody Wagner
      September 1, 2015 - 5:56 pm · Reply

      Thanks Ellen! During my sabbatical, I sorta relived those days, LOL! But you can bet there were no insects on my undergarments this time 🙂

  • C. A. Wilke
    September 1, 2015 - 8:06 pm · Reply


    I was going to leave it at that because … WOW.
    But I can’t. One of the things we were taught in boot camp was to label your underwear (And everything else) with your name using a stamp. In fact, the all of the military surplus stores on and off base sold little stamp kits where you could put together you name into a single stamp. This was even an inspection item that you could get in trouble for not having when the First Sergeant came by.

    Kind of wish, now, that I’d been able to use a scorpion instead of just my last name.

  • T. Kinn
    January 21, 2019 - 3:57 am · Reply

    very cool story, Cody! My high school girlfriend gave me a 7-pack of fruit-of-the-loom tighty whities before I went off to college…she labeled each pair with my last name and said this would ensure that I had briefs to wear for 2 weeks (for some reason she thought guys typically wear the same underwear for 2 days in a row….lol….). As further rationale for the gift, she also mentioned the possibility of losing my tighty whities to lazy or desperate roommates, plus she felt that I’d be less likely to meet someone else if I was a tighty whitey nerd! I wore them through my freshman or sophomore year of high school, then started wearing blue, purple, and green Diesel briefs. Anyway, it ended up being the perfect gift! I was glad to be back in the most comfortable underwear out there, and my fotl’s were great to sleep in, too. Turns out most of the guy’s on my floor in my dorm wore tighty whities of some kind as well- a lot of Hanes, a few Jockeys, and even a few fellow Fruit of the Loom dudes!

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