Column: Getting to the bottom of camo hype

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 8, 2006

Along with an aversion to the sight of blood and a tendency to spontaneously fibrillate when exposed to sudden loud noises, I have recently discovered another reason that I will never be a hunter.

I do not have the proper underwear.

Frankly, it had never occurred to me that a 10-point whitetail would have any interest in a hunter’s undergarments. When a creature is caught in the crosshairs of a fully scoped, locked and loaded 30-30, you’d think its least concern would be whether the figure squeezing the trigger is wearing boxers or briefs, favors cotton or polyester, goes for drab whites or vibrant plaids. This isn’t the case only in the animal world, either. Although former President Clinton had a well-documented interest in underwear, especially women’s thongs, I’ll bet when his political life was on the line and the House was voting on impeachment, he was not watching CSPAN and thinking: “Whoa, dude — I wonder what Senator Lott has got going on under that double-pleated seersucker?”

Or when the smart bombs started whistling down on Baghdad, I doubt that Saddam Hussein was musing on the geopolitical implications of Donald Rumsfeld’s skivvies — “Fruit of the Loom or Hanes?” — as he dove for the spider hole.

But as I thumbed through an advertising brochure for a popular hunting store, there it was, prominently displayed alongside the eight-pocket, field-strength fanny pack (with easy-cinch waist) and the “Still Steamin’ Doe Estrus Urine.”

Camouflage underwear.

We’re not just talking conventional, Amish-issue longjohns. You can buy camouflage boxers, camouflage bikini briefs, camouflage thongs, even camouflage jock straps. Nor is the camo undergarment trend limited to outdoorsy males. A quick Google search reveals a surprisingly extensive line of camo lingerie for ladies, including mossy oak camouflage panties, a camouflage baby doll set and a camouflage bra — which certainly gives new meaning to the idea of a deer “caught in the headlights.” Victoria’s Secret soon will come out with a special “Girls of the NRA” fall-hunting collection, featuring camo camisoles and woodland safari garter belts. Just the thing to bring out the animal in your man, girls.

There’s even a camouflage G-string. I’m not sure on what occasions fashion etiquette calls for a camouflage G-string — Carhartt night at the Elks Club? — and, frankly, the thought is more than a little unnerving. What with 300-pound bucks gone crazy over “doe estrus urine” (the crack cocaine of the antlered set) and 300-pound bubbas roaring around on ATVs (without benefit of helmets or camo jock straps), our forests are already dangerous enough, without adding camo-clad exotic dancers. I’m not thrilled by the idea that an adrenaline-hyped male with heavy artillery and a twitchy trigger-finger might suddenly be distracted by a lap dance from “Bambi.” Maybe this explains why serial bomber Eric Rudolph was able to avoid capture for so long in the North Carolina mountains. The search parties kept getting sidetracked by dancers in camo gyrating against pine saplings.

No doubt, the proliferation of camouflage underwear signifies an important cultural shift. Perhaps it’s part of a back-to-nature movement that eventually will make Dick Cheney trade his limo for a Prius, swap his wingtips for Birkenstocks and donate his Halliburton stock options to PETA. Or perhaps it’s a subtle sign of a deepening patriotism across the land; the popularity of camo underwear could symbolize Americans’ solidarity with the men and women in uniform. Instead of flying the flag, why not flash a desert-sand thong?

Balanced against the trend toward camouflage underwear, however, we must consider the countervailing increase in people wearing no undergarments at all. According to USA Today, we’ve recently had a rash of celebrity sightings in which Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan appeared in public wearing short skirts with nothing underneath. We can thank the paparazzi for this revelation. They took photos as the young ladies were getting out of cars. The photos, of course, were instantly transmitted around the world via the Internet, proving that Grandma was way ahead of her time when she refused to leave the house wearing hair curlers.

Fortunately for our struggling textile industry, the anti-underwear movement doesn’t appear to be gaining traction in the world of high fashion, the USA Today article states. It hasn’t been endorsed by Oprah or the Democratic congressional caucus. Rebecca Aspan, the author of “The Lingerie Handbook,” concludes: “If you show everything, that leaves nothing to the imagination. And then it’s just shock value.”

Exactly. And that’s a point confirmed by any seasoned woodsman. The object of the hunt is to shoot your prey, not shock it to death. Male deer are sensitive, noble creatives. That’s true even at the height of rutting season when — as is the case with men in general — they express their romantic natures by sniffing the wind for glandular secretions and banging their heads against trees.

That’s why conscientious hunters wear camo underwear — it’s really out of consideration for the deer — and why deer stay away from Hollywood. God forbid that a proud buck’s dying glance should cruelly fall upon a pair of white cotton BVDs — or Britney Spears taking a breeze bath on Rodeo Drive.

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Chris Verner is editorial page editor of the Salisbury Post. Contact him at verner@salisburypost.com or 704-797-4262.

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