My friend Lizzy was a great giver of pants. Seven or so years ago, when we were in England together, most of the pants I owned came from her. At the time, I had the figure and hair-do of a twelve-year-old boy, and tended to wear skirts much of the time so as not to be mistaken for one. But if Lizzy had a pair of pants she wanted to get rid of, I’d take them–she had good (expensive) taste. Lizzy was probably about five inches shorter than I was, and I have somewhat disproportionally long legs; how these pants always managed to fit me was always a slightly incomprehensible but welcome phenomenon.
Last week, when I started up my gym membership again after a two-year hiatus (a lapse warranted by doing a masters program while teaching 6 and sometimes 7 days per week), I had to dig a bit for something suitable to wear to the gym. Most of my workout clothes seem to have disappeared since late 2007, when I stopped trying to carve out time or energy for any kind of exercise that involved more than sitting up straight in my desk chair. Obviously, I descended into flabbiness. Once I’d dug my gym bag out from the depths of my closet, I found my one remaining pair of track pants stuffed inside: brand-name, mercifully stretchy, expensive-looking. Lizzy pants.
My uncle, a former police officer, tells me the most common excuse apprehended suspects make for contraband found in pockets is “these aren’t my pants.” He tells me the officers will play along, asking whose pants they are. “Some guy” asks these minding-their-own-business folks to trade pants with them, apparently. When pressed to explain why they swapped pants with a stranger on the street, the suspects claim to be nice guys. You have to give these people credit for effort, but the excuse really just stinks.
Trussing myself up in Lizzy’s pants, feeling a little like the holiday turkey I cooked last week, I didn’t look in the mirror before heading to the gym. I wanted to delay what I knew would be inevitable in the mirror-lined room on the gym’s main floor. Even once I was situated on the elliptical machine, finding that my iPod had nothing more suitable in terms of workout music than Surfer Rosa, I tried to keep my eyes glued to CNN on the TV above me. Not having listened to the Pixies for a while, I had forgotten that there’s a track on Surfer Rosa in which band mates are shouting at one another before a live take. Hearing dudes screaming, I instinctively turned around, looking for the source of the sound. What I caught was a funhouse mirror. The first thing that came to mind?
Those can’t possibly be my pants.