Sunday, May 11, 2003

Start the Day (or Just the Afternoon) Off Right

OK, didn't write at all yesterday, but I wanted to take a bit of a break after having completed my synopsis. Plus Mark was officially done with all the classes he needs to get his PhD this week (and he got an A in the course, too), so I wanted to spend a day with him, just doing whatever we wanted. That turned out to be shopping (I broke my really good streak of not using my credit card - and enjoyed every minute of it), a nice lunch, and watching movies in bed with popcorn and chocolate. Made the mistake of watching "The Ring" and was up most of the night. I should've learned long ago that my imagination is just not into being scared witless. And the movie didn't even make sense. On a scientific level, at least. The scariest movies are the ones that are plausible. This wasn't. Just disturbing and twisted. Which is enough to keep me huddled against Mark all night long, though. But I promised a pants story. So here it is.

Pants: Pants have become my nemesis. At least when it comes to clothing. I'm sure there are other things that will prove more disruptive and complicating to my life than slacks. But for now, pants win the Kellie's Enemy award (given annually in a small, overlooked ceremony in the strange, dark recesses of my mind). I discovered the foulness that was pants last year. As I prepared to move out of academia - a field in which jeans and a fading, tattered t-shirt can be worn at all times - and into education, I realized that I needed some nice slacks. Thus began the search.

The world of women's business casual clothing is a strange beast. Different blends of fabrics, different ways to measure waists, elastic, no elastic, pleated front, flat front, and the list goes on. I learned a few things very quickly. My lower half defies sizing. My legs are too short to fully fit "tall" pants, but are too long to look well in regular length pants. My waist belongs in a size 8 or 10, but my hips will not allow anything smaller than a size 12 past them. I tried to compromise with a size 10 for a while - snug around the hips, but not so loose at the waist that anyone could keep a running commentary on my underwear choices everytime I sat down. I realized on Monday that this compromise was a mistake. My size 10 khakis had always struggled to overcome the hip barrier. But for two years, they had bravely fought the good fight. As I pulled up my pants in the ladies room early Monday morning, the zipper finally called it quits. I hadn't realized just how much I had been stressing the poor thing. I wouldn't have minded this inconvenience too much - except for the fact that Monday, as you might recall, was my PT appointment. And I was also wearing holey socks. So while I'm swaying in the exam room, trying to recover my balance and bearings, my toes are wriggling out of my socks and my fly is down. Quite the little peep show. The next day I vowed to find a pair of khakis that fit.

I walked into Kohl's expecting to struggle, expecting to try on different sizes, different brands. When I saw the chaotic mess the misses section was, I knew I was doomed. They had mixed the petites with the misses. The Levi's were scattered over four display shelfs. And the sizes ranged from 2-8, then 16 and above. All 10s and 12s that I found were either regular or short. After half an hour of rooting around (on the bottom most shelves of each display area), I had a stack of five pairs that might yield something. I tried the 10s and my hips laughed defiantly. I tried the regular lengths and my legs chortled. I tried on a 12 long and my lower half sighed. Of course, I was tripping over the pants a little. So I tried rolling about an inch or so under the leg. Pefect. So perfect, in fact, that I risked the hope of finding a black pair in the same brand and style.

Foolish mistake. After another half hour of searching, I realized that 12 long only existed in blue jeans (which I didn't need) and the khakis (I only needed the one pair). There was not a single 12 long to be found in black, green, brown, white, gray, or striped. Women's wear had defeated me yet again. As I paid for the one pair of pants, I had to remind myself of my victory. I had come in looking for a pair of khakis that fit. And I had found that pair. It may be several years before such another success is realized on the pants front, but I have to hang onto this moment. One day, when I have more money than I know what to do with (OK, stop laughing now), I will fight the final battle with pants. I will go to a tailor and get the blasted garment made to fit my strange dimensions. And then I will go to the misses department in every store near me and laugh at all the pants on display. It will be beautiful day. A chorus of angels will accompany my laughter. Women around me will raise their fists in victory. And the pants will cringe.

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