The day my pants stood still 29 Sept 2013
One day I realised I had been tucking my shirts into my jeans. Bravely, I had to act quick to halt this near-fatal error.
My girlfriend keeps me in line. Well, I thought she did.
I don’t ask much. At 42 years old, I’m an independent guy.
But I made her promise one thing: that she would kill me if she ever – ever – caught me tucking my shirt into my jeans.
Do we need to recall the awfulness of the 1990s – a la Jerry Seinfeld – to remember just how frightening was this blight on humankind?
My girlfriend and I had our honeymoon days. Walking hand-in-hand on promenades, casual shirts hanging gracefully over well-pressed trousers. It’s a familiar tale. We’ve all been there.
Then, one evening, we were out on the town and it happened. With my shirt bunched within my jeans, I cannot begin to explain how shocking did appear my behind! And don’t get me started on my crotch. I think I made a grown man laugh.
I ran to the toilets and hid in the cubicle, deep in my shame.
So how did this fairy-tale unravel? How did my girlfriend allow me to do a full tuck into my jeans? How did the threads of our intimate bond become so undone?
But I cannot hold her responsible. At 42 years old, I can only blame myself.
So I buried myself in my closet and searched for answers.
I deconstructed the contents of my wardrobe. All wisely selected items of style, integrity and panache.
I went to the eye doctor. Okay, at my age, my eyesight’s not perfect, but the ophthalmologist voiced no need for alarm.
And then I went back to where it all started: my floor-length mirror.
It didn’t seem faulty. But how could I be sure? I needed a professional eye. So I called a technician.
His name was Eric. He was younger than me, but he seemed to know his stuff. He pulled open a panel at the back of the mirror. Until then I hadn’t known there even was a panel there. But hey, I’m a layman at these things.
“There’s your problem,” he declared so matter-of-factly. “Your mirror’s toggled itself to delusional.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about. He explained that all mirrors come out of the factory floor set to what the industry called ‘honesty’. Mine, however, had become faulty.
I felt so ashamed. “So, how long have I been … you know, dressing like this?”
“Hard to tell,” he replied, still fiddling with the wires behind my mirror. “Five, six weeks.”
I choked back tears.
He reassured me. “I see a lot of this in men your age. You’re not the first.” He looked down, sombre. “And you’re probably not the last.”
The next day, I realised that the technician was right. I wasn’t alone. I found a self-help group. They run a 12-step program: JA – Jeans Anonymous.
I go weekly. I wear my shirts loose now. But I always carry in my wallet a photo of myself, how I was then, when everything went horribly wrong. Just to remind myself – that I am not without flaws, that even in the prime of my life, I once fell from grace.
So if you see a man with shirt tucked in his jeans, try to offer some tolerance and kindness. It may not be his fault. And remember: he too was once like you.
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