Because You Never Know Where the Night Will Take You

Flannery O’Connor, chronicler of the American South, knows what real lady when she sees one

Feedloader (Clickability)

At first, I thought that Miss O’Connor was talking about a naked woman found on the side of the road, but then I remembered my mom’s warnings about the importance of clean underwear in the event of a car accident.

But why? Do clean underpants really matter when you’ve been thrown through the windshield or you’re pinned under the soon-to-explode engine? I pondered this more than is probably healthy, and have narrowed it down to two possible explanations:

1: The Judgmental Triage Myth
Perhaps there was some sort of urban legend about paramedics taking care of the person with the nicest underthings first. Thus good, clean drawers could really be the difference between life and death. Also, I’m sure that news would spread quickly though town if you were found wearing icky (or even worse, nonexistent) underthings, and then you would most certainly die of embarrassment.

2: Modesty at All Times
Maybe this warning was issued because proper, devout Catholic ladies like my mom and O’Connor were just very concerned with being modest and dignified in all situations, even (especially?) in situations where one might just happen to be unconscious and bleeding from the head.

Either way: Be careful out there.

(C) Jessica Hagy, 2011

Get the latest Travel & Culture stories in your inbox.