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Big Bang Theory

Published:Saturday | May 12, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tony Deyal, Contributor

If I were writing a 'brief' history of warfare and sought to uncover the truth about the relationship between underwear and violence, I would start with the 'Boxer' Rebellion of 1898-1901. A young student encountering a question on that topic in his history exam sought to explain it as an act of resistance against the imposition of Christian values on Chinese society, notably a law that men should wear a particular type of undergarment named after a species of dog instead of going around in tongs.

This is not strictly true.

The lowly Chinese were upset that foreigners had them by the short and curlies with unequal treaties favouring opium traders and Christian missionaries. This is how Boxers started. Eventually Boxers were considered revolting, and China had to pay the foreign powers, including the United States, a lot of money in reparations. Now China has become a tightly knit society and is getting its own back by exporting boxers and other men's underwear to all those countries that fought against them. They have moved from the battlefront to the Y-front.

If you doubt that boxers can be injurious to your health, consider this very strange case. The doctor said, "Joe, the good news is I can cure your headaches. The bad news is that it will require castration. You have a very rare medical condition, which causes your testicles to press on your spine, and the pressure creates one hell of a headache. The only way to relieve the pressure is to remove the testicles."

Joe was shocked and depressed, but decided to take the surgery. When he left the hospital, he was without a headache for the first time in 20 years, but he was still depressed. To cheer himself up and to make a new beginning, Joe decided to buy a new suit.

He entered a men's clothing store and told the salesman, "I'd like a new suit." The elderly tailor eyed him briefly and said, "Let's see, size 44 long." Joe laughed, "That's right. How did you know?" "Been in the business 60 years!" the old man responded. Joe tried on the suit. It fit perfectly.

Perfecting the trade

As Joe admired himself in the mirror, the salesman asked, "How about a new shirt?" Joe thought for a moment and then said, "Sure." The salesman eyed Joe and said, "Let's see, 34 sleeve and 161/2 neck." Again, Joe was surprised, "That's right again!" The salesman beamed, "Been in the business 60 years!" The shirt fit perfectly.

The salesman then sold Joe some new shoes, again guessing the size right and again boasting about his 60 years in the business. Then the salesman said, "How about some new boxer shorts?" When Joe agreed, the salesman stepped back, eyed Joe's waist and said, "Let's see - size 36." Joe laughed. "Aha! I got you! I've worn size 34 since I was 18 years old."

The salesman shook his head, "You can't wear a size 34. A size 34 boxer would press your testicles up against the base of your spine and give you one hell of a headache."

An even bigger headache came from another source linked to underwear - nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll. The American government, originally implicated in the Boxer Rebellion, displaced the inhabitants of this South Sea paradise and carried out 67 nuclear tests between 1946 and 1948. Equivalent to 7,000 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb, the tests had major consequences on the geology, the environment and the health of those exposed to radiation. Then the cover-up on Bikini began, and the American government sought to dress up what was a reprehensible practice with bare lies which nobody believed atoll, atoll.

Now, as al-Qaida jockeys with other terrorist organisations for supremacy, the terrorist organisation has shown that it not only has ulterior motives, but interior and posterior ones as well. It has come up with an underwear bomb. The first attempt was on Christmas Day 2009 in Detroit. A would-be suicide bomber, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was arrested when his device failed to explode fully. He had used the same explosive that Richard Reid had used in his shoe in 2001. Reid was seized by passengers when a stewardess realised that some kind of mischief was afoot and he was later sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Bomb plot within

A few days ago, it was revealed that al-Qaida had continued trying to perfect the underwear bomb and that an upgraded version had been seized by US intelligence services. The Washington Post came up with the most appropriate headline for the seizure of the underwear bomb, 'CIA UNRAVELED BOMB PLOT FROM WITHIN'. This has to mean that the bomb did not only contain plastic but may have been fabricated.

My interpretation is slightly different. Based on the seized bin Laden documents, which showed that al-Qaida was cash-strapped, I believe that Osama was in Pakistan to set up an underwear factory that would have as its niche market the many suicide bombers of the Middle East. Eschewing Joe Boxer, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss, the al-Qaida boss targeted CQ and decided to go on the market with the AQ (al-Qaida) brand. AQ would give you more bang for your buck, send you to higher heights, and blow up your endowments out of proportion.

Despite the marketing hype and the promised houris, it would take a really brave man with considerable intestinal and testicular fortitude to wear one of these. I can just imagine the underwear fitter talking to a very scared young man whose testicles were already jamming against the base of his spine and asking, "Do you prefer boxers or briefs?" Teeth chattering, head bursting and feeling very frightened indeed, the young man would reply, "Depends."

Tony Deyal was last seen saying that in this case he will go with the Joe Boxer slogan, "There's more to life than underwear."