I had a forgettable one night stand.

Six months later, I could say I had a regrettable one night stand.

We met at a bar. We both ordered beers. That bar became another bar, and then that bar’s basement speakeasy, and things are a bit fuzzy after that, but I do know that he didn’t spend the night.

His underwear, however, did. In a bundled ball cuddled in the bottom of my sheets.

No offense to this guy, it was more right place wrong time, or wrong place wrong time depending on how full his glass of perspective is, but I wasn’t planning on repeating the evening. Or really seeing him again. I was freshly single, fresh off of the boat into the land of post-relationship exploration and losing another pair of his calvin kleins in my sheets didn’t really fit into my current plans. Or rather, he wasn’t going to make me reevaluate my current plans.

So I threw them away.

It was a strange mix of emotions putting a pair of perfectly fine calvin klein boxer briefs in the dumpster behind my house – one part physical reaction of I-don’t-want-to-touch-these, one part guilt (for the boxers, which could technically have been worn again a few times and for their previous owner, who had technically texted me already a few times) and one part good riddance.

The latter won out and I soon forgot the entire incident.

Until he texted me six months later, asking for his underwear back.

And then the guilt won back over.

Who knew that throwing away a man’s underwear could make a girl feel like she had so much power? And who knew that power could come with so much added guilt? I’m not sure if this is some sort of deep-reaching psychological tendency of my own, or its loosely woven through the pattern of being a woman, but you want to make a man feel happy. Sorry, not even a man… men, in general. Part of it is programmed harmless flirting – like you want to make a man curious if you’re curious, but not on solid enough footing to know you’re definitely into it. I’m not sure if that’s even the right way of phrasing it. You want to give every man the illusion, even if he knows that really it is only an illusion, of hope. You want to let them down easily. You want to make them feel special – for a moment, for a month, for a lifetime. It’s the tension that occurs between men and women. We do it because we want to take of men and we do it because, in return, we want to be taken care of. I do it with my bosses. I do it with the guy cutting my prosciutto at Whole Foods. I do it with my boyfriend(s). A harmless fudging of the lines between niceness and flirting. Because there’s something in it for me, and because I care about other peoples’ feelings.

It’s that same instinct that makes me, and I’m assuming some other women, want to serve up rejection with a metaphorical plate of cookies. To say its not the right time, you’ve gotta focus on your job, that you’re still not over your ex-boyfriend, any number of slightly true but also slightly covering up the real truth. And then leave them with the “but that night was fucking awesome” at the same time. Stroking their egos while at the same time bruising them.

So when a guy texts you six months later, and asks if you have his underwear, he doesn’t want his underwear back, he wants the hope of another night with you back.

So when I threw that pair of underwear away, I was throwing away a bit of his manliness, and that makes me feel icky.

Not as icky, however, as I would have felt washing them, putting them in a drawer and saving them for the time he texted again. If I wasn’t going to save the boy, I certainly shouldn’t be saving his stuff.