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The Long And
Short of It

by Stephen Lautens


February 9, 2001

Pardon me while I adjust my pants.

No - it's not some lame pick-up line. My pants really do need adjusting.

Last week I had to retire two of my favourite suits. In reality I hadn't worn them for a couple of years. I can still get into them, as long as my shirt isn't too thick and I don't mind giving up little things - like breathing.

In fairness I bought them thirteen years ago when styles were slimmer, and so was I.

Even though they hang in my closet taking up valuable space, I haven't had the heart to throw them out. I wore one of them to my very first court appearance. (For the record I was the lawyer - not the defendant.)

It was a rainy day and to avoid a puddle I stepped over a parking lot railing. Instead I ended up face down in the mud with a tear in my pants and a pain in my side. As soon as court was over I rushed for immediate assistance. After a few anxious moments in the waiting room I was given the good news - the pants could be saved.

With the important things looked after it took me another three days to get myself to the hospital and find out I had two broken ribs.

So we've been through a lot together, but the time has come when they have no more to give - either in the seat or up the back seam. It was time to shop for a replacement.

My family doesn't seem to have very good luck with pants. My father used to have to go back to the store at least three times before he had his pant length right.

I don't expect any sympathy from the ladies in the crowd. Clothes shopping for them seems to be a very different experience. I have it on good authority (my wife, who is a good authority on everything important) that like most things women don't get the same treatment as men when it comes to buying clothes. For example, they don't get those little extras men take for granted, like buttons that stay on once you're more than five feet from the store's front door.

Men usually get free alterations when they buy clothes, but like they say, you get what you pay for. Maybe it's the family curse, but I always have to make several trips to the store to get the pants the right length.

So when I got back the pants my wife bought me for Christmas, it was no surprise that the legs trailed on the ground behind me. On the bright side, no one would ever know if I wasn't wearing shoes or socks.

Back I went for another fitting. My wife picked them up again a few days later and I tried them on at home.

They fit fine. It was a miracle.

Then my wife had another look at the pants.

"They don't look like the ones I bought you."

I looked at the tag. She was right. They were the same colour but they weren't mine. The tag said they belonged to a Mr. Lumbers.

And I'm sure when he gets them back they won't fit him either.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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