the schmooze


*The Yiddish word for long underwear is "gatkes"

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

I see London,
I see France.
I see economic recovery
in your underpants!

We're in a recession...and the growth in sales of men's underwear began to slow last year.  Mintel, a global research company, expects sales to fall 2.3% this year and next year, men's underwear sales will fall by 0.5%.

Even Alan Greenspan will likely be looking at sales of underwear when deciding whether the economy is on its way "aroyf" (up) or "arop" (down).

National Public Radio (NPR) announcer, Robert Krulwich in 2008, said that Greenspan believed that men's briefs were amongst the most "pinktlekh" (accurate) indicators of the state of a crisis.  Krulwich said, "If you look at sales of male underpants, it's just pretty much a flat line, it hardly ever changes."  "But on those few occasions where it dips, that means that men are so pinched that they are deciding not to replace underpants.  And Greenspan said 'that is almost always a prescient, forward impression that here comes trouble ("tsore")."

During January of 2009, sales began nose diving.   
Men buy an average of 3.4 pairs of underwear in a year. 
But from 2004 to 2008, the proportion of men buying single pairs at a time increased from 5 percent to 8 percent, whle the share of men opting for packs of four or more fell slightly. 
There had NOT been anywhere near as much change in the volume of sales of women's undergarments:   "Underwear is important for women," Semih Kizillors reasoned, "and buying new underwear is something they refuse to compromise on." 
Regardless of price ("prayz") or style, women panties continued to sell at precrisis levels.

Could it be that women never forget the motherly "eytse" (advice) that they were taught as children:  "Make sure to change your underwear always; you never know when you'll have an accident."  (The other advice:  "What if everyone jumped off a bridge?  Would you do it, too?")

Dave Barry ("Dave Barry is from Mars And Venus") reminds his readers, "One last underwear tip:  No doubt your mom always told you that your underwear should be clean ("reyn") and free of holes or stains, because you might get in a car crash and be taken, unconscious, to the hospital ("shpitol"), and people would see your underwear and possibly ridicule ("khoyzek") it.  Your mom was absolutely right, as we can see from the following unretouched transcript from the emergency ("noytfal") room of a major hospital"

  Doctor:  What do we have here?

  Nurse:  We have a car-crash victim who has severe head trauma and a broken neck and massive internal injuries and is sprewing blood like a fire hydrant.

  Doctor (briskly): Okay, let's take a look at his underwear...WHOA!  How do you get Cheez Whiz THERE?

(Laughter from everybody in the emergency room, including gunshot victims.)

"Nit oyf eich gedacht!"  (It shouldn't happen to you!)

Dave Barry concludes by saying that "for every man walking around looking tasteful, there are at least ten men walking around wearing orange plaid Bermuda shorts with non-matching boxer shorts sticking out above AND below, and sometimes also poking out through the fly."

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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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