The Long Way Home 10.13.23

Sometimes, the best column ideas come from a trip to the transfer station.

Before dumping our trash last week, I went to the office to pay the $8 disposal fee. I opened the door on Miss Daisy, the family car, and fought gravity to stand up. As always, I tugged on my jeans to bring them up to where I was comfortable and strode through the door.

From behind, I heard a woman say, “Need help pulling up those pants?” Followed by a sinister laugh.

Turning to see who the brazen hussy might be, I saw a friend of mine, a sometime reader of this column, and I realized she wasn’t a hussy at all. We both laughed then.

This tic of mine, pulling up my pants before walking away from the car or just standing up, is quite common among men, especially those of a certain age. I thought I was the only one.

As we discussed this topic with the young lady at the cash register, I began questioning my relationship with pants. The two gentlewomen proposed that men’s pockets are too full of stuff because they don’t

carry purses. There was a time in the not-distant past when men had purses, at least those leading fashion trends. 

I explained to my rapt listeners that I wore suspenders attached to my jeans. My friend then said perhaps they weren’t doing a good enough job keeping my pants up. Or maybe my pants might be a size or two too big. Both observations had a grain of truth.

I inventoried my pants pockets later. My front pockets held a wallet, some loose change, a key fob for the car, and a Leatherman on the left side. On the right were two Bic lighters, a pipe tool, a foreign coin for luck, and a small rock I picked up somewhere. The back pockets held my tobacco pouch, a small number of business cards, and a handkerchief. This mess must weigh nearly a pound, if not more. A purse may help.

I discovered suspenders in the 1980s when my clothier (yes, I had a clothier) suggested them to complement my professional attire, tailored suits, and custom shirts. I looked like a character in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” He called them braces back then.

I forgot about suspenders (braces) when I gave up the high life.

Six or seven years ago, I worked at the local Ace Hardware store, charming customers and stocking shelves. Bending over constantly to pick up totes and put brass fittings in their bins near the floor saw my pants falling below a substantial belly, leaving me with the dreaded plumber crack for all to see. I bought a pair of Carhartt suspenders, and my crack problem disappeared. I only wore a belt when I wasn’t working.

Five years ago, a surgeon at the Mayo Clinic gave me my quality of life back. In doing so, he left me wearing a piece of so-called durable medical equipment that rests just below the waist. I can’t wear a belt even if I want to now. So, suspenders it is.

A quick Google search of the pulling up the pants issue reveals that it is a common enough action for older men. The reasons some proposed for it made me laugh. 

As I pull up my pants when I stand today, I’ll never carry a purse. And to the other older men in the falling pants world, be aware that someone is always watching.