My Letter to Calvin Klein

Dear Mr. Calvin Klein:

Let me start by mentioning that I am a fan of the work you do. For years I remained adamantly against the fashion industry thinking it was the bane of capitalism and the epicentre of exploitation in Western Culture. It wasn’t until I acquired employment at a Winner’s department store that I actually encountered the products you have put on the market. So, I believe it goes without saying that most of your apparel is out of the question for me to dawn on my body. But, you have tapped into a market that even a man my size can still indulge in as a means of displaying your good, fashionable name on my self.

I, of course, am talking about your fantastic line of undergarments. Specifically, the amazing support I get, without compromising any comfort, from your boxer-briefs. A lot of people seem to criticize you for some of your business practices and the entire fashion industry for that matter. But those are ugly hippies and punk-rockers who don’t understand what it takes to have real style. Politics shmolitics, right Mr. Klein? Looking good and getting rich is what’s most important.

I first encountered your line of undergarments while restocking the male-unmentionables section of said Winner’s department store, which I slave at over the summer for just over minimum wage – depending if management remembers who I am. While I was restocking said male-unmentionable section, I had a giant box of pre-packaged briefs and boxer-briefs that varied over a dozen different designer brand labels. Amidst the sea of plastic packaging with cheap, useless zippers, I caught a glimpse of a plastic package that didn’t seem all that familiar. I reached into the underwear abyss; the packages began shifting, as if a child were diving into a pit of balls, and I pulled out the holy grail of men’s lesser-seen apparel.

I read the top caption: it read “Calvin Klein.” My eyes travelled down the front label much like a woman’s eyes’ travel down a man when he is only in his unmentionables. I followed the man’s pectoral muscles, down his six-pack abdomen, and my eyes halted at the sight of the man’s groin. There they were, perfect, smooth, white, and unforgettable: the perfect pair… of boxer briefs.

I was astounded. This was the type of underwear that I only heard about through pop-culture clichés on sit-coms and from stand-up comedians. It’s one of those clichés that no longer has any meaning outside of its own reference. It has become self-parodied. Yet, you still can’t go through a season of any ABC or CBS prime-time laugh-track serial without hearing some male being referred to as a “Calvin Klein underwear model.” I never really understood that reference. I know that Mark Wahlberg, film star but better known to me as Marky Mark (of the Funky Bunch), used to be one of your models, and I like him. So, I always just assumed being a Calvin Klein underwear model just meant you were mildly attractive.

It does, but on a whole different level.

I continued to stare at the man’s groin, taking in the perfect pair of boxer briefs, and noticed something astounding about them. Well, not necessarily them, but about the man wearing them. My God was that man well-endowed! That perfect, well shaped, centre bulge on that pair of boxer briefs was awe-inspiring. It made me recall that scene in Spinal Tap where Harry Shearer was trying to get through airport security and had a cucumber wrapped in tin-foil in his pants. But your model wasn’t shaped like a cucumber, no, he was shaped like a real man should be shaped. I’m sure Robert Plant and Steven Tyler look at your packages and feel a level of shame. Now, imagine how I felt looking at that “perfect package.”

I was terrified at first. This man couldn’t be human. My God, Mr. Klein, what do you feed your models and why isn’t the rest of the male population eating it? Even as my fears tried to consume me, I still had a barely over minimum wage job to do, and I was off, under the fluorescent lights to a symphony of screaming children, conducted by unfit parents. I carted the box of male-unmentionables to the convenient and easily shop-able shelving units that held them. I was down on my knees, refilling the shelves. My head would drop to the box, I would find multiple packages of the same brand and style, and lift my head to once again see the perfect package only centimetres from my face. It was from this constant and prolonged viewing that I began to find this crotch comforting. Like this crotch was telling me I was one handful closer to being done this brain-numbing, frivolous, remedial task.

While your model’s wonderful crotch gave me comfort, I found myself analyzing it. Not just the crotch, of course, that’s fairly self-explanatory and I don’t think Jean Paul Satre would have written about the existentialism of the crotch (what truth does the crotch bring to the universe?). No, instead I analyzed the brilliant marketing ploy you have unleashed onto the world. Some would argue that you have tapped into the “Lizard Brain” side of marketing, which can be exceptionally effective when selling something so closely related to fornication.

You see, Mr. Klein, I get you. I get the importance of the crotch. It’s something that both women and men want, though for slightly different bragging rights. Women will buy the underwear for their men because they want him to have a package like the man on the package. Men will buy the underwear, especially if they’re single, out of a feeling of self consciousness or downright inadequacy. Brilliant.

So brilliant, in fact Mr. Klein, that I bought two packages of grey and black boxer-briefs size XL. I kept the packaging out of simple adoration to the brilliance of your understanding of the human “Lizard Brain.” I remain enamoured by this package. I leave it on the pillow next to mine on those lonely nights when I can’t sleep just right. I place my hand on the package and talk to it until I’m too tired to talk anymore (yes, sometimes I get to that point). Some night, I swear the package is talking back to me. Sometimes it tells me that everything’s going to be alright and tells me stories to help me sleep. Other nights, like some sort of horrible nightmare, the package mocks me.

That first night with your undergarments, I put on a pair of your boxer briefs, stood in the mirror, and held the perfect package next to myself – I had to know how I compared. I bulge, as most men would in any sort of brief, but my bulge was different from the one packaging. It was still centred, but mine was slightly to the left, and my bulge seemed to end significantly short compared to your model. Suddenly, my “Lizard Brain” went into panic mode, and then into complete depression. There I was, Mr. Klein, and I was face to face with my complete inadequacy.

I really can’t complain about the underwear you produce overall, though. My God are those boxer-briefs comfortable! The mix of cotton, polyester, and rayon you have concocted for this line of undergarments was a perfect choice. You must have tried on hundreds of different pairs of underwear made from all different fabrics to come to the understanding of what the perfect fabric is. I can imagine the Taiwanese sweat-shop workers that your company has employed to construct these malevolent man-manipulators. They come to work every day with only the hope that they can take a moment to rub a piece of this amazing ginch fabric and rub it against their face and experience just a moment of solace.

But, Mr. Klein, I’m not writing this letter to criticize you for outsourcing jobs that many domestic, working class people could use to dig themselves out of their massive debts that probably accumulated from buying your products, and thus also contributing to the recent economic collapse. I’m not commenting about you spending in and around 10 cents to create the amazing underwear with your name on it and then selling them for 59 dollars a package. Isn’t that just good capitalism after all? No, Mr. Klein, the social backwardness of the fashion industry isn’t what concerns me; I have a much bigger bone to pick with you.

Where do you get off making me feel so inadequate? I’d like to see you in a pair of your underwear and see where your package fits. Mr. Klein, Mr. “Big Money Man,” Mr. “I make men question their masculinity and make women question their satisfaction with their men.” And what have you done lately, really? What is a work day for you like? You slap your name on some clothes, write a twenty dollar cheque to ensure your foreign sweat-shops are still running, and then complain about how busy of a day you had? I work for a living, man.

I’m part of the working world going into massive amounts of debt just to try and measure up to the standards set out by the bourgeois who control the means of production and distribution. It’s bad enough that you make this standard to adhere to so hard for so many people to reach, but now you also insult us because our physical characteristics may not necessarily measure up to that of your underwear models.

My junk may not sit where your model’s junk sits but I’m still twice their size, I can bench 200lbs and leg press 600lbs. I could take your models and take you with one arm tied behind my back. Don’t mess with me, man, I’ll waste you, take your girl, and bury you in your own underwear with the package next to you so at your funeral everyone can see all the ways your crotch doesn’t sit right compared to the “perfect package.” Come on, Big Man, show me what you got!

***

Mr. Klein, I’d like to apologize for my previous outburst. I guess my “Lizard Brain” got the best of me. I was way out of line, said some very inappropriate things, and I hope that we can put this behind us and just enjoy your fantastic underwear and take in that perfect package together.

Sincerely, Chris.

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One thought on “My Letter to Calvin Klein

  1. Josh says:

    This post lit up my evening. 😀

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