When I was thirteen years old, it was fashionable to wear pants so tight you had to lie down on your bed to pull them up. Then you sort of angled yourself and took a deft slide off the edge of the bed to stand up. You had exactly as much flexibility as a Barbie doll. Between those pants and the miniskirt, anything you dropped on the floor was going to stay dropped. There was a dip-and-swoop maneuver you could use if you needed to pick up anything while wearing the miniskirt, but you were still going to flash some panties. The key was to execute the maneuver really quickly and hope for the best.

All of that nonsense went right out the window with the advent of Spandex, the miracle fabric, and what a miracle it was! Stretch pedal-pushers, initially, were more for the older ladies and came with a cigarette, a martini, and a Rat Pack soundtrack. But a few decades later they started making jeans that looked just like jeans and yet allowed you to crouch for minutes at a time without putting your lady parts to sleep or pancaking your testicles, depending. Now every pair of pants sold is either roomy by design or has Spandex hidden right in.

And all they had to do to engineer this delightful state of affairs was to allow peat bogs to accumulate and compress for sixty million years and pop by with a drill about three hundred million years later and suck it out and subject it to chemical whizbangery, producing a stiff prepolymer and a fluffy prepolymer, and spinning them together into a long fiber that might decompose in a couple hundred years under the right conditions.

This results in a product that can expand up to 500% its original size! Which is just what you’re looking for in a pair of underpants, which will be asked to perform this feat over a considerable acreage of flesh. Unfortunately, it will not do this forever.

I didn’t know that at first. I discovered the miracle microfiber underpants about ten years ago and it solved everything. There were no seams. There was no binding sensation. Just a slim little tube of butterfly-wing fabric that expanded to cover the pertinent area with grace and aplomb. Day after day, year after year. It felt like not wearing any underpants at all.

You know what else feels like not wearing any underpants at all? Not wearing any underpants at all. I should have seen it coming. Over time my underpants got a little sprawly. I liked it at first. I was walking around inside my underpants and it felt like I’d lost weight. I hadn’t, and I knew it, but the body was willing to be fooled. Things got drafty. Still fine.

Until one day they surrendered their powers all at once. I was wearing my (also petroleum-based) beloved fleece overalls, which I like because I’m completely covered and yet most of the fabric isn’t touching me anywhere. They’re roomy. As such, the crotch seam is actually about four inches below my personal crotch. And that crotch seam turned out to be the only thing that kept my underpants from drifting into a polyester puddle around my ankles. Yes, my underpants turned themselves inside out and succumbed completely to gravitational forces, suspended by my overalls seam and hanging down on either side at knee level. If I was wearing a skirt instead, there would have been some ‘splaining to do at the Piggly Wiggly.

They’re all going at once. More than half of my microfiber purchases have abruptly gone into retirement and didn’t train a replacement. Even my favorite Columbia Sportswear t-shirt has suddenly decided it’s a nightie.

The good news is that International Day of Margaret is upon us yet again, and I can yard out the whole batch and start over with new! The old panties can go to the landfill and think about what they’ve done for a couple hundred years. I have no idea how long it will take to turn them back into oil.