Funny stories in under 500 words.


What would you do if you found a rogue pair of undies? Probably nothing... But that's not this story, written by Paul Hostovsky. Check out his his latest book is IS THAT WHAT THAT IS (FutureCycle Press, 2017), and visit him at
So I found this pair of underpants in the bathroom after my cousin and her boyfriend left for Ithaca. They were green with gold stripes and they weren’t mine. I stood there for a long time considering them.

They weren’t dirty but they weren’t exactly clean, either. They were unwashed. But they weren’t unclean the way a dead bird is unclean, or the way an unsanctified thing or an unholy thing is unclean.

I picked them up, and did I smell them? I want to say I smelled them. I may have smelled them because they weren’t unclean and they were undoubtedly my cousin’s boyfriend’s and he is a good man. Not a holy man but a good man with a good job in Ithaca, New York and an excellent beard.

Of course, I thought about returning them, sending them back to him in a mailer or a small brown box. And I thought about washing them, though they weren’t mine and they weren’t unclean, only unwashed, and they weren’t sexy, only colorful. They were more colorful than all of my underpants put together. You will want to know I am wearing them as I write this.

Much time has elapsed since that day in the bathroom. My cousin and her boyfriend have gotten married. I have gotten married myself. My wife has no idea about the provenance of the green underpants. She thinks they are mine. She washes them with my underpants and her underpants, and she puts them all in a sweet-smelling pile on top of the dresser. I think there is something a little holy about a pile of clean underpants on top of a dresser.

I think that putting them away in a drawer would be like putting your light under a bushel, or like locking a bird up in a cage, or like packing up a good green thing in a small brown box and sending it far, far away from you.


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