The Escape Hatch is in the Rear

Monday morning, I got dressed in the dark before heading to work. No big deal, right?


Fast forward a couple of hours. I’m in my cubicle, finishing up my coffee, when nature calls. (I’m trying to word this delicately, but let me be clear just in case there is any confusion: by “nature calls” I do not mean birds chirping outside the office or squirrels burying nuts; I mean I had to relieve myself. ‘K? ‘K). So I walk into the bathroom, unzip my jeans, and start fumbling around. And fumbling around. Not in a weird or perverted way – I just couldn’t, ahem, reach things. You see – and this is directed at the ladies, who may not be aware of this – men’s underwear has a slit in the front, which makes the whole taking-a-whiz process easier. (I know, I know…we already get to stand up and do it, how much more simplification do we need?). For some reason that slit wasn’t where it was supposed to be, a fact that caused me all sorts of confusion and even a fleeting bout of John Wayne Bobbitt fear.

This underwear is defective, I thought. I wondered if I still had the receipt. Then remembered that I’d been wearing them without trouble for at least a year.


“What the hell?” I muttered out loud, but then somebody else walked in and I had to curtail that talking-out-loud nonsense. After much consternation, I realized what was happening: I had put my boxer shorts on backwards, so that slit – let’s call it an escape hatch, just for fun – was in the rear instead of the front. Not a big deal in the overall scheme of things, right?


Because the rest of the day felt wrong. Backwards, if you will. Everything seemed odd: my computer monitor was too bright, the carpet too stiff, the parking lot too asphalty. It’s like the universe was askew, not just my boxers. I debated for a moment stepping into one of the stalls and righting what was wrong, but I generally tend to refrain from dropping my trousers at work, so I just let it be. And watched my liquid intake the rest of the day. Still, there were a couple more inevitable trips to the john, and sure enough every time I was in there I struggled with the mechanics of being unable to just let it fly through my fly. This might have been the first time in my life I envied women and the necessity of their gotta-sit-down-to-take-a-leak anatomy.

Oops! (Courtesy of

Naturally, as soon as I went home, I decided to go commando. I figured by that point I’d earned the right!

For some reason I felt compelled to post a status update on Facebook bemoaning the fact that I had gotten dressed in the dark and things hadn’t turned out well, and amongst the many clever responses was this gem from Tara:

Wow…you really are lost without me. 

‘Tis true. If she had been here, instead of visiting family in Seattle, I’m sure I would have put my underwear on correctly. Even though five and a half years passed with nary a backwards bloomers incident. What can I say? She keeps me sane. So, the fact that she’s leaving for a solo trip to Ely in a few more days has me in all sorts of disarray. I can’t help but wonder what will befall me next. God, I hope I don’t show up to work with an inside-out shirt or – gasp! – no pants. Talk about a fashion faux pas. I mean, I wouldn’t mind a raise, but I’d rather earn it through my hard work, ya know?

Speaking of work, things continue to go well. I still find it hard to believe at times that I happened upon this job. Wednesday morning, my supervisor and I were checking out the lineup for Portland’s upcoming Music Fest Northwest, and talking about rock ‘n roll bands. And then, a copy of the latest issue of Billboard magazine landed on my desk. All of this happened right after I’d updated our various social media sites. I realized, in that moment, how much of a charmed life I am leading: I get paid to talk about music, post things on Facebook and Twitter, and read magazines. I feel like I’ve hit the freakin’ jackpot.

As the Barenaked Ladies famously said, pinch me.

(That there is industry jargon).

Carry on with your week, but tell me first – have you ever had any embarrassing fashion incidents? How did you cope with them during your day?


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

22 thoughts on “The Escape Hatch is in the Rear

  1. Too funny, Mark — but look at the bright side, since we’re already being indelicate: The backwards boxers could have made — ahem — #2 a breeze! 😉

    And since you asked…

    I’m sure I’ll at some point share this story on my blog, so you’ll just have to act surprised if you happen upon it. About a month after my daughter was born, I remember dropping my son off for daycare one day. I was still nursing, and I was wearing those really uncomfortable nursing pads that make you 1. look like you’re stuffing your bra and 2. not leak. Problem was, one slipped out. While I was in the daycare room. With a bunch of rambunctious 2-year-olds milling about. I failed to notice…until the teacher, a 70-something grandmotherly type, picked up a child who was CHEWING ON IT and asked, “Hmmm. What’s this?” I froze. I couldn’t fess up. I ran. Like the wind.

    And I unenrolled my son the very next day.

    Nah, that last part is a lie. But I still laugh to this day, thinking about that particular fashion faux pas.

    Thanks for reminding me of this — I’ve been up since 2 a.m. for no good reason, so the memory has made me smile for the first time in seven hours. 😉


  2. Mark, this was HILARIOUS!

    I wear briefs, so it probably would be easier for me to tell if I put my underwear on backwards. But with boxers, I can totally see how you could do that.

    The funniest thing that ever happened to me (as far as fashion mistakes) was when I was performing in a musical and had to make a quick change in my costume for another scene. I totally forgot to take off my white gym socks from the previous scene, so I walked out onstage in a dress suite; wearing WHITE gym socks! And every time I sat down, you could see them BRIGHTLY shinning from under my black pants!

    Glad to hear things are going well with your job!

    Have a super weekend, buddy!


    1. Admit it, Ron: that was a ploy to get yourself noticed. Don’t all actors yearn to be in the spotlight? What better way than a bright, shiny pair of socks contrasting with the rest of your outfit??


    1. Nah, I’m kicking ass. (kicking, not kissing). I’m not worried about that. My parents were over for dinner last night and they thought I wrote this blog post at work, since it posted at 9 AM. I had to let them in on the not-so-secret schedule feature that WP has and let them know it was actually penned the night before.


  3. Hahahaha!! The image of you…you know…well…I still crack up…LOL

    I don’t really recall any fashion faux paus…so I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.

    David, on the other hand, is great at wearing his T-shirt inside out…especially in the morning and I have to remind him, sometimes, to check himself before he leaves for work. On more than one occasion, his zipper wasn’t zipped.



    1. I think every male on the planet has, at one time or another, gone out in public with his zipper down. Accidentally, of course. It’s a universal embarrassment for us all!


  4. If it makes you feel any better Zac went to work one day with two different boots on, and I’ve gone out in two different pairs of tennis shoes before. Mornings are a bitch…especially dark ones.


  5. I typically work from home, but occasionally join my colleagues on site for research. One of these times, I was wearing a new outfit that looked pretty sharp – and realized more than halfway through the morning that I was wearing my sweater inside out. Fortunately, most of the time I was sitting in a dark back room (the kind behind a one-way mirror) – I didn’t notice it till I went to the ladies’ room, where I promptly put it on properly.


  6. Escape hatch? That’s either ingenious or disgusting. I’m still deciding.

    Embarrassing fashion moments? I left the chiropractor’s one day with LARGE streaks of mascara under both my eyes. The doctor didn’t tell me, the receptionist didn’t tell me, I went grocery shopping and NO ONE told me (the man stocking the avocados stared at me, but I thought it meant he thought I was cute!), I rode an elevator with someone, and talked to the secretaries at my then job and they didn’t tell me. I finally caught the faux pas in the bathroom and audibly screamed! Sadly, the avocado men just thought I was crazy. *sob*


  7. I had a few different pairs of LL Bean leather mocs in different colors. And didn’t notice until I got to work (and I’d been there for awhile) that I was wearing a red shoe and a black shoe. Everyone at work (and myself as well) thought it was hysterical, simply because it was such a “ME” thing to do. I made sure though, that I never slipped on shoes in the dark again. Oops. 🙂


      1. I think the word is ‘infamous’. And I do have to say, I realized at the end of one day last week that my knickers were on inside out. Not quite your style of backwards, but still……..!


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