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Heymatt:

Why is not wearing underwear called “going commando” style? I would think a commando would appreciate the support and reduction of chafing that briefs provide.

— Chafing at the Bit in RB

The elves go commando at their weekly backyard badminton tournament. They appreciate the ventilation. Grandma’s threatened to stop doing their laundry if they don’t cinch up with some undies, but so far they’ve charmed her into it.

Actually, Chafing, you’ve probably been reading too many issues of GQ. Commandos (aka Special Forces) aren’t out looking for fashion colors and luxury fibers. They want comfort and practicality. Commandos are supposed to wear what the military tells them to wear. Absorbent cotton briefs, mostly. But wet-underwear chafing is a major problem when you’re walking miles through the commandos’ typical landscape: jungles, swamps, deserts, lots of damp or blazing-hot places. Nobody wants to suffer the chafing from an extra layer of clothes soggy from swamp water or sweat. The best solution isn’t designer skivvies, it is no skivvies at all. (No undies also makes peeing and pooping easier when on the trail or hunkered down in some mud pit, trying not to move and give away your position.) According to a Vietnam vet friend, it wasn’t just the Special Forces that went commando in that humid environment. The term became popular during the Vietnam era, but some historians say the practice dates back to commandos in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Hi, Mr. Matt:

I can’t find anyone that knows the derivation of the name for the Formosa Slough in Point Loma.

— Phil Crepeau, via email

Ooh, twice wrong, Phil. First of all, you can find someone who knows the derivation of the name (me). And second of all, it’s Famosa, not Formosa. (Famosa is Spanish for “famous.” “Formosa” is the former name of the island of Taiwan, off the coast of China.) Now that we have those details straightened out, here’s your answer: Famosa Slough is a slice of wetland created when landfill cut it off from the San Diego River construction. It pretty much sat there south of the river, nameless, until someone in the city planning department decided they needed to call it something. They were tired of referring to it as that swampy area south of the river. Because Famosa Boulevard ran adjacent to it, Famosa was the name that stuck. Thanks for this info to Jim Peugh, longtime spokesman for the Friends of Famosa Slough, the intrepid caretakers of this piece of our shrinking wetlands. By the way, none of us know why the boulevard was named Famosa. Maybe one of you Alicelanders can fill us in.

Matt:

Why is a pineapple called a pineapple?

— Nameless, via email

In the Middle Ages, Europeans called pretty much all fruit and fruitlike things “apples.” The “fruit” of the pine tree (the pine cone) was called a pine apple. When explorers brought back from South America what we know today as a pineapple, the British thought it looked a lot like their pine apple, so that’s the name that stuck. After decades of confusion and ruined recipes, the pine apple eventually became the pine cone.

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