The Cu­ri­ous Case of Bed­room Bot­toms


Special Focus - - Contents - Chua Lam 蔡澜

Ihave a friend who is a jus­tice of the peace in the main­land, and when I ate out with him I asked what cases he’d heard re­cently.

“Same old same old—pil­fer­ing, pur­loin­ing, pec­u­la­tion,” he said.

“Can you think of any in­ter­est­ing ones?” I asked him.

“Oh yeah,” he said after some thought, “There was this crazy case of voyeurism.”

“Re­ally? Peep­ing at hot girls in the shower?”

“No. Peep­ing at ugly men in the john. They caught him red handed in a public bath­room.”

“So, is the gay life­style be­com­ing com­mon i n the main­land?” I in­quired cu­ri­ously.

“That’s what I thought at first.” My pal said, “I looked at him sit­ting there sulk­ing with no de­fense at­tor­ney and kind of felt sorry for him, I asked him if he wanted me to ap­point one for him, but he de­clined. He wanted to de­fend him­self in court. I told him it was best not to fly by the seat of his pants, but he in­sisted. He said no lawyer knew more about his case than he did.”

“Know what?” I was grow­ing more cu­ri­ous with each pass­ing mo­ment.

The old judge de­briefed me on the sit­u­a­tion, “Un­der­pants!” He ex­claimed, “Said he was the self- pro­claimed ‘ Sul­tan of Skivvies,’ with his own fac­tory and ev­ery­thing.”

“Which fac­tory? If it’s a fa­mous brand, I might have heard of it here in Hong Kong.”

“He has a fac­tory, but he said he didn’t have his own brand but that he was just the un­der­wear sup­plier to ev­ery brand in the world. But if he had to do re­tail­ing too, he would have no time to do any re­search.”

“What re­search?”

“Re­search on the planet’s per­fect un­der­pants! Said he wouldn’t give up even a sin­gle op­por­tu­nity to check out the dudes’ jockey shorts.” The judge ex­plained.

“But it’s just un­der­wear. I mean there are just so many kinds that a per­son could wear.”

“That’s what I said. But then the de­fen­dant got his shorts in a knot. He looked at me with this look of con­tempt and told me I didn’t know what the flip­pity jib­bits I was talk­ing about, which re­ally cheesed me off. I told the guy he’d bet­ter ex­plain the pro­fun­di­ties of the un­der­wear and fast, or the only un­der­shorts he was go­ing to be wear­ing would be the ones with black and white stripes.”

“So, what did he say? That silk skivvies are the best?” I asked.

“He said that no ma­te­rial could ever be more com­fort­able than good cot­ton.”

“Cot­ton?” I said in­cred­u­lously. “Ev­ery­one’s un­men­tion­ables are

cot­ton fiber. What’s so spe­cial about that?”

“Not reg­u­lar cot­ton, he said you need to use Sea Is­land cot­ton. Bet­ter yet, Egyp­tian cot­ton.” The judge said.

“What is Sea Is­land cot­ton?” “He ex­plained that it’s an Amer­i­can prod­uct, and he said that only the kind that’s at least two inches long can pass QC, and that ev­ery length of ma­te­rial has to be cer­ti­fied by the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Tex­tile Chemists and Colorists.”

“What’s Egyp­tian cot­ton?” “It’s even finer than Sea Is­land cot­ton, and the ma­te­rial made from it is smoother than silk.”

“How could any­thing made of cot­ton be bet­ter than silk?” I ques­tioned skep­ti­cally.

“He said it de­pends on the count.”

“What do you mean ‘count’?” I asked con­fused.

“The amount of cot­ton fiber used in ev­ery square inch of cloth is called ‘ count.’ Nor­mally cloth has a twenty count.”

“So, what about Egyp­tian cot­ton?”

The old judge sat there in front of his steak and coffee re­lat­ing what the “Sul­tan of Skivvies” had told him, “Ev­ery square inch is a two hun­dred count. Ev­ery count is a dou­ble weave.”

“Wow!” I ex­claimed.

“Oh yeah,” the judge said with a shake of the head, “But, I didn’t ap­pre­ci­ate mis­ter ‘ Sul­tan of Skivvies’ let­ting me have it like that. And in front of the whole court­room. Then he had the nerve to ask me if one color of cloth made into five dif­fer­ent styles sold bet­ter or if five dif­fer­ent col­ors made into one style sold bet­ter.”

“What did you say?”

“Of course, I chose the five dif­fer­ent col­ors. The guy said that my an­swer was ‘ re­ally, to­tally, com­pletely, ab­so­lutely and all oth­er­wise, just plain wrong.’ He said that when peo­ple get used to wear­ing white they will never con­sider an­other color, and that one color made into five dif­fer­ent styles was the bet­ter seller.” The judge re­lated.

“Did he tell you what color most men wear?”

“That’s the rea­son why he was in the bath­room ogling the un­der­shorts. He said, ac­cord­ing to his sta­tis­tics, black was the best- sell­ing color. But lately red had be­come in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, and it was all be­cause of a lo­cal su­per­sti­tion. He said that in Can­tonese the phrase ‘daai hung, daai fu,’ mean­ing lit­er­ally ‘big red big pants,’ sounds like an­other phrase ‘daai hung, daai fu,’—‘big red big money.’ There­fore, now they all want to wear the red ones, so that they can get rich by the color of their undies.”

I couldn’t help bust­ing a gut. “So, what about the girls? Does he also have re­search on women’s panties?”

“I’m a judge. I have to main­tain a stoic de­meanor. How could I ask him such a ques­tion with a straight face? But a clerk sit­ting in the court­room, who just hap­pened to be a woman, couldn’t con­tain her­self, so she asked him

if a woman’s bra and panties should be the same style and color?”

“What did he say?”

“He said it de­pended on the mar­ket.”

“What’s that got to do with mar­kets?” I asked.

“It has ev­ery­thing to do with mar­kets. He said in Amer­ica, the big man­u­fac­tur­ers like Tri­umph sell so many bras that, who has time to worry about the panties?”

“Dif­fer­ent women, dif­fer­ent de­mands…” I said.

“That’s what the clerk girl said.” The judge replied.

“What did the ‘ Sul­tan of Skivvies’ have to say about that?” I asked.

The judge replied, “He said that was an­other level en­tirely. If a girl has the money to spend at Vic­to­ria Se­crets, then of course the bra and panties have to be a set, be­cause it looks good when a girl takes it all off for her hus­band.”

“Yeah, he’s got a point there,” I con­curred.

“But, then the ‘ Sul­tan of Skivvies’ looked right at the clerk girl and said, ‘You’d never have a chance like that in your life.’ She was so peeved by the re­mark that she just about ran to the wit­ness stand to choke the guy to death!”

I was just about to split my sides, “So what was your fi­nal judg­ment?”

He laughed and said, “He knew so much in­dus­try in­sider jar­gon that I just pro­nounced the guy in­no­cent and let him go free. And be­sides…” he added “I haven’t had a good laugh like that in a long time!”

( From Anold Monk from a Lonely Tem­ple , SDX Joint Pub­lish­ing, Trans­la­tion: Chase Coul­son)

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