As Operation Eighty Pounds slogs on, I am discovering that weight loss has a much more profound effect on wardrobe than I realized. (My previous experience with weight loss being limited to taking off a winter coat, I suppose I should be surprised.) Collared shirts gap hugely in the neck region. An untucked aloha shirt billows like a spinnaker. Boxer-briefs become plain boxers, with attendant wedging issues and security flaws.
All tiresome, especially for someone who views spending on clothes as a waste of perfectly good gambling money. But underpants come in packages, collars can be left unbuttoned, and excess aloha shirt can be roped into place with a sturdy belt. Plus, those can all be worn, albeit with varying degrees of comedy and comfort, until Final Size has been attained.
From a body-morphology perspective, nothing you have ever gone through in life, including growing boobs or subsequent reaction to viewing them (depending on your gender), rivals the shock and awe that shakes your life upon dropping five pants sizes in six months. The closet massacre is astounding — all the more so for a guy who generally bought pants only when the holes in the previous pair became too big/unsightly/unlawful to ignore, and for whom Occasions Demanding Dress Pants have nearly been outnumbered over the past four years by Occasions Demanding Rented Pants.
The fallout from this trouicide breaks down along the lines of traditional myth: The Tragic Awakening, The Quest, and The Epiphany. (Collectively, “The Pants Trilogy”.) Let me explain.
At some point after embarking on an intensive course of butt reduction, you will have an Occasion spring upon you. I don’t mean it’ll be a surprise, necessarily, as you may have known about it for months, or even years. The surprise comes when, as you do before every birthday/wedding/interview/lapdance/wake, you go to the closet to retrieve your Good Pants. (If you don’t understand the reason Good Pants warrant a proper noun, I can’t explain. Either you feels me, or you doesn’t.) You don clean socks, clean shorts, and a clean-looking dress shirt. You put on your faithful Good Pants, and they drop like Jerry Springer’s Q rating. Brief confusion follows: Did I not fasten them? Did I even pull them up? Will this one day be identified as the first sign of my Alzheimer’s?
You retrieve the pants from the floor, hoisting and fastening them with more care than you have since your Good Pants were your Big-Boy Pants. Primary Button? Check. Auxiliary Interior Button? Check. Zipper in upright and locked position? Check. Good Pants release in five…
There is a khaki puddle around your feet.
There is perhaps three-tenths of a second of weight-loss pride.
Then it dawns:
You have forty minutes to purchase and deploy a replacement pair of properly-fitting Good Pants.
You will have to spend your own money on these pants.
If you continue to succeed with your weight loss, you’ll have to go through this afuckingain.
Your momentary triumph sours and is ripped from you. You are now, for the duration of your diet, a jaded, bitter biped.
Eventually, this happens to all your pants. More than once, if you’re really cooking. (Or not really cooking. Hahaha.) This results in two separate components of major pain:
Having to pay money to buy pants to replace pants that have not yet run their full course.
Having to shop for pants more in five months than you have in five years.
I am the last guy on Earth to extend things beyond a reasonable product life via the well-known It’s Still Good incantation, but Christ, I’ve — what’s the opposite of “outgrown”? — sunk below the minimum size on jeans that weren’t even showing signs of wear. The pocket cotton was still stiff! “The Guys” were invisible — not yet even denim-fluttering shadows. Jeans were not meant to be bought this often. It feels sinful — all these new pants are a tremendous waste of resources! (Specific resource in question: Money. More specifically: Mine.)
New dress pants, new jeans, new shorts. I must have spent $50 on pants this year. FIFTY DOLLARS! ON FUCKING PANTS! I worry that I’ll wind up in a shopaholics clinic, forcibly committed, because I keep insisting that I “need” these new pants, and no one will believe my wild tales of tuna salad. If I spend another $50 by New Year’s, and it’s all on pants, I’ll commit myself. I promise you. My word of honor. I swear on my Good Pants.
American Indians used to fast, smoke, eat peyote, meditate, lie in the sun, and do a bunch of other crazy mystic shit in order to trigger a vision or revelation. They had it tough. Not like us. All we have to do is shop for pants long enough. (And fast, I guess.)
The revelation: Reports are not exaggerated: America is a far, far fatter place than it was ten years ago. Here’s how I know:
Ten years ago, during my final growth spurt, I would shop for pants with a 42 waist, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing anywhere but at one Big & Tall shop in Villa Park the name of which I can never remember, a charming quirk for which I am made regular sport of by a girl of my close acquaintance. No shorts in my size at Wal-Mart. No jeans in my size at Venture. Nothing for the third quadrant at any major chain. Fuck off, pudgy. We don’t serve your kind.
Now that I’m in a more traditional size range, I still can’t get fuckin’ pants. Is there a 38? No. 36? No. 34-relaxed? No. But oh, the racks and racks of fatwear! The swimsuits come in Shamu! The sweats are sleeping bags sewn together! Need dress Pants for the Kool-Aid pitcher? Oh yeah! Jeans in 42? Those are filed under “Petite”! The only thing missing are muumuus.
1994: I have to drive thirty miles to buy grey drawstring sweatpants in any size larger than Greg Maddux.
2004: Wal-Mart stocks a full line of trousers for the discerning man. That discerning man is known to his friends as “Haystack”.
Generally, at the end of a trilogy, there is some kind of resolution and closure. I don’t have that yet — and suddenly, right this very second as I type, I suspect that the Pants Trilogy is incomplete. There is more work to be done, here, but I believe I am truly on to something. Dare I dream of a Nobel Prize?