"To his horror [Toad] recollected that he had left both coat and waistcoat behind him in his cell, and with them his pocket-book, money, keys, watch, matches, pencil-case— all that makes life worth living, all that distinguishes the many-pocketed animal, the lord of creation, from the inferior one-pocketed or no-pocketed productions that hop or trip about permissively, unequipped for the real contest. "
- The Wind In The Willows
bought me a Utilikilt in 2006, and sadly, after six years of constant summer use, I am about to lay it down for the last time. It's had thousands of wearings and washes, and is beginning to get raggedy beyond any repair potential. It's a sad event, for many reasons.
The kilt is a great garment. In practical terms, it's ideal for me. I live in the hot Sacramento Valley, and some summer days can be brutal to someone raised in chilly England. The kilt provides a natural air-conditioning around the goolies while walking, by gently swishing air around the sweaty bits. When standing, the process still works, but one needs to rock back and forth to encourage that breeze. It's a great feeling when it's 104°.
I realise that I'm in danger of giving away what I wear under my kilt, so I will move along. I do occasionally get odd looks, but a surprising number of positive comments about the kilt, mostly from women, though many men have commented that they wish they had one. Occasionally I do notice women having a good ogle, and once caught a young woman trying to take a photo up the kilt. I was surprised, slightly offended but secretly very pleased.¹
Now I wear a Utilikilt for a variety of reasons. Climate I have mentioned, but the kilt that Christine bought for me is the top-of-the-range Survival model, which boasts deep, trouser-style pockets, two rear elasticated patch pockets, and two huge snap-on cargo pockets. Between them, it is said, one can carry hrair bottles or cans of beer (twenty is the "official" number). Now I tend to carry a lot of stuff anyway, and on a shopping or hiking expedition need even more storage space.
As an aside, I was on a cross-country trip a couple of years ago along US Highway 2. I wore it every day because frankly, eight hours in the car makes the fellas sweaty. Of course, in liberal Davis, wearing the kilt is one thing, but in the deep Midwest, I was even more the curiosity. Every diner, petrol station and bar had its rubber-necking denizens, and yes, many of them did inquire "Is that a kilt", and yes, it is. Several men were envious of the attention I had from the womenfolk, and some of the women volunteered that their men would look good in such attire.
I will miss the capacity, if not the cooling factor (it is now winter, and I have several months before I will need to cool the boys in this manner) and I must save up my pennies until March. In the meantime, I'm attracting many comments surrounding my wearing of bifurcated nether garments; many of the regulars at the Farmers' Market miss it. Jeans, I am told, do not become me like the kilt.
So, what is worn under the kilt?
"Nothing is worn, it's all in perfect working order!"
So anyway, coming back to my original point, I do get rather a lot of comments, mostly about how dashing I look, how practical it must be, or how many bottles of beer it can hold. Just occasionally, some brave soul inquires as to what's worn under the kilt, or (by men, usually) whether I am going regimental.
I have many answers for this one. My stock response is "A gentleman does not reveal what he wears under the kilt", and I usually get a smile from that, and the conversation is dropped. Occasionally, I coquettishly lift one side of the skirt to reveal a hairy knee and a few inches of thigh, before dramatically dropping the hem with a shake of the head, as if to say "that's all yer getting". On one occasion, I raised the apron to reveal Union Flag boxers, to enormous delight.
One woman, however, went beyond the pale. Not content with a humorously evasive response, she pressed on. She was pretty serious about this, insistent and rude. In such situations, one is obliged to be pleasant, and I was, for I am an Englishman and bred to be polite. After two increasingly probing questions, I was forced into a corner, and came out fighting. "I will tell you, madam, and even show you. But you must tell or show what you are wearing under your skirt."
Cue the retreat of the offended party, and the delight of onlookers. And no, in case you were wondering, I will not tell you. There is basically only one way to discover this Englishman's secret, and that position is currently taken.
¹ Okay, I admit it. I also like the attention.