This the 10th anniversary of the most humiliating moment of my life.
The story began when I arrived at the fitness center hoping to improve my standing on the racquetball ladder. My win/loss record was 12-56, just about as low as anybody can go, although I found a way to sink even lower. In preparation for a trip to the courts that day, I had not only packed all my athletic equipment, but I threw in an extra pair of socks and undershorts, so that when I finished losing, I could shower, sit in the hot tub and then leave refreshed.
After the match, I placed my change of clothes on a bench and stepped to a nearby mirror, towel secured around my waist, to comb my hair. I then returned to my locker and dressed. That’s when I noticed the man next to me frantically looking through his gym bag, then opening and slamming shut several lockers.
“You didn’t take my underwear, did you?” he asked.
Who would stoop that low? True, I have not led a totally crime-free life. I’ve pilfered an occasional pistachio from the supermarket’s display pile, double-sampled the quiche at Sam’s Club, and once at a local fast-food place, I refilled my water cup with a shot of Sierra Mist.
When I returned home, I was caught unaware — I caught myself in someone else’s underwear. In my duffle bag were both the pair I played racquetball in and the extra pair I had packed. It wasn’t possible, was it? I was scared to look, but I undid my belt and took a peek. Sure enough, I was wearing Hanes, a cut above my usual Fruit of the Looms.
I immediately put the unfamiliar underwear in the laundry. After all, at some point I would have to return them. But to whom? I didn’t know the guy’s name. Still don’t. But I remember the expression on his face when he realized what a sticky ride home he was about to have.
So, if you are the man whose underwear I accidentally took 10 years ago, you have a right to be upset. You probably think I was telling you a little white lie at the time. I know I’d feel the same way if I were in your shoes (I should have checked those, too). The bottom line is that I literally didn’t know what I was getting into.
I assume at this point the victim of my mistake doesn’t want his shorts back. Especially since I have been using his size 38s to wipe off my car’s oil dipstick since 2011. But, sir, if you are reading this, I’d like to buy you a 12-pack of Hanes to say I’m sorry. This will put you 11 pairs ahead. Let’s you and I make a clean start.