True Scotsmen

I’m still not done with being sore about yesterday, so I’m probably going to focus on getting my tech in order so as to avert future meltdowns. I was working on a follow up to the atheism post, but these are serious, thinky issues which also tie into political outrages which are… outragey. In the meantime less serious notions pop up and I end up wondering about them. So perhaps I’ll focus on those.

At some point it became decided that Scotsmen don’t wear undies under their kilts. It was a thing, to be sure, but not particularly a Scottish thing. In the modern age, we’ve been spoiled by mechanized laundry which allows us to replace our underclothes daily (more or less) with clean, dry cloth. These underthings soak up sweat, oils, residual urine and dirt keeping us comfortable and less stinky all day*

In the 70s the Indonesian government attempted Operasi Koteka which was to introduce the Papua bush tribes to modern clothing after prudish tourists were distressed by the mostly-bare natives flouncing about au naturel. (Papua natives, evidently flounce.) The project offered clime-appropriate Levi-Strauss apparel, but didn’t introduce modern laundry. And the modern clothing quickly dirtied and became a vector for a skin disease epidemic. The shorts did make for good hats, though, and dresses were converted into carrying bags.

Back in Europe, prior to industrial appliances, only nobility who had a staff could afford to have underwear regularly washed, and most people hung free under their robes and dresses. So it was with kilts. The practice continued in the twentieth century in the military, given that troops in the rough don’t necessarily have access to laundry either. Joey’s comment in Friends “I’m not gonna go commando in another man’s fatigues” is a reference to something commandos actually did on the field since they were often behind enemy lines or otherwise somewhere they couldn’t count on supply lines.

In Scotland, the term is going regimental, and is easier on the loins when engaged in a forced march or otherwise headed into the rough, but Scotland can be a cold place, and if you’re not in formation, undergarments can still serve to stave off the elements and keep sensitive bits dry and comfy without challenging your regional heritage.

* In my experiences with clothes-optional communities neither clothing nor nudity was mandated, which put the practicality of clothing — or the lack of it — in sharp relief. Being naked is cooler and more exhilarating when the clime is warm, but your sweat isn’t wicked away, so one becomes riper faster without convenient showers or an ocean in which to douse one’s self. Also there’s the matter of dangly bits flapping about which can be a problem during physical activity.


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