Tag Archives: pants

Be yourself

People talk about this stuff all the time, but it’s really hard to make your own way in the world today. You’ve got so many competing voices, all of them trying to tell you what to do, how to dress, do this, do that. Sometimes you feel like you’re not really making any decisions at all, like you’re kind of just floating through life, randomly bumping into this, barely staying on two feet as you collide into that.

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You’ve just got to be yourself, that’s the best piece of advice I can give to you. Take a look at your clothes. Do you ever feel like the rest of the world is subtly dictating the terms of how you dress every day? Unless you invented your own pair of pants, I’d have to say that, yes, you’re just following the crowd. How can you be yourself if you’re just wearing what everybody else is wearing?

Take off your pants. OK, you’ve got to make your own pants. And you’ve got to make them out of something crazy, something unique. How about shirts? Take a bunch of shirts and sew them together until they’re pants. That’s it. You’ve done it. You’re being unique, you’re starting something new here. You’re being yourself.

There’s only one problem. You’re not being yourself, because I just told you to do it. So take off your shirt pants and put your old pants back on, because you look like an idiot, because you were just following orders again. You’ve got to think even bigger. And no, the pants thing is totally out of the question now, because whatever you wind up doing with your pants, I’ve already put the whole pants idea in your head. So just move on.

No, you’ve got to like, embrace your inner you. What does that even mean? Exactly. If I told you what it meant, we’d be right back to where we were with the whole pants thing. Is this starting to make sense? I hope not, because then you’re not being original. I’m being original right here, and so really anything you’re thinking right now, it’s all derivative.

I’m being derivative, because I’m starting to get to that point where I’m saying the same thing over and over again. But that’s me, I’m being myself here. If, for some reason you’re still reading this, which I doubt, because I’ve already said the same thing like three or four times already, five or six if you count this sentence, but if you’ve made it to this paragraph, you might think, OK, I’ll just stop now, I’ll stop being Rob and I’ll start being me.

Well, it’s not quite that simple. You’ve got to give it time. Your brain’s still going to be processing everything I’ve put in your head. Go ahead and try it, say to yourself, “I will not think about this anymore.” You’ve already failed. Because just by not trying to think about it, you’re already thinking about it, still. Thinking about what?

Again, exactly. You see where I’m going with this?

I went shopping for a new pair of pants

I needed a pair of pants, so I went to this men’s clothing store a few subway stops away from my place. It was pretty early, so there weren’t too many shoppers. As soon as I walked in, this woman standing by the entrance was like, “Hello! Welcome to the store! Do you need any help?”


And I don’t want to belittle retail employees, I mean, I work in the service industry, although restaurant work is a totally different beast than working in a clothing store, I guess we’re like cousins. I get it, is what I’m trying to say. I get how I’m immediately annoyed that this person is all up in my face, but I also get that she has to do that, there’s probably a rule book somewhere, and it’s probably written in fourteen point type, “When a customer walks into the store, you a required to greet them – warmly – within thirty seconds, followed by an offer of assistance.”

Still, I knew what I was there for, a pair of pants. No, I don’t go shopping enough to know exactly where the pants are in this particular store, but I’ve gone clothes shopping enough at places similar to this that I’m pretty sure there’s a wall somewhere, all of the pants are folded in little cubbies built in to the wall, and the labels should all have the sizes displayed, one after the other, no help really required.

I mean, wouldn’t it have been helpful to have this woman point me in the direction of the wall? Sure, I could have used some assistance, a, “Right that way, over to the left behind the big mirror.” But it’s never just a little bit of help. This might sound a little cold, but if I don’t come off as immediately standoffish, my saying yes to help might be misunderstood as an invitation for this person to play amateur personal shopper.

That’s the last thing anybody wants, a bored employee following them around, she’s trying to remember the store’s official rulebook, “If customer says yes to help, proceed to follow him around the store. Make suggestions for articles of clothing that he’d never consider wearing, ask him if he needs any help finding a size, even though all of the sizes are very clearly labeled. If everything on the rack is medium, why don’t you offer to look ‘in the back’ for any other sizes, even though there are never any other sizes, just hang out, give him time to browse some of the store’s other contemporary men’s collections.”

Yeah, I doubt it’s that specific, but really, I didn’t want anything else, just a pair of pants, a quick try-on in the fitting room, and hopefully I’d be out of there as quickly as possible. “No thanks, I’m great,” I told the woman. She responded, “OK! Thanks! My name is Sandra if you need anything!”

Whatever, thanks Sandra. Judged purely on finding the pants, my mission was as successful as I could have wanted. The pants wall was right in the back. The fitting area was right next to the pants wall, and there weren’t any other employees there at the moment, none of that, “Let me set up a fitting room for you,” clothing store filler, just the room, the pants, they fit. Great.

Checkout. “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” I’d been in the store maybe five minutes, and I was standing at the register holding out the pants and my credit card. “Yes, I found everything I was looking for.”

“And did anybody help you with your purchases today?” I looked back at Sandra, she wasn’t too close, but she was close enough that she could have probably heard what we were saying. I mean, the place was empty. I thought going early would have been great to beat the crowd, but I hadn’t taken into consideration the fact that there’d be all of these employees with no customers to serve. Did Sandra work on commission? If I said nobody, which was true, would Sandra feel stiffed, akin to a waiter not getting a tip? I mean, why would she say her name with such emphasis if not for me to repeat it at the register?

“Sandra,” I said, “Sandra helped me out.”

“Sandra?” the cashier said, loudly, “Is this true? Did you help this guy out?”

“What? No. I hardly talked to him.” Then she looked toward me. “Why would you say that? I barely talked to you at all.”

“I don’t know,” I said, “look, I work in customer service, I thought maybe you get like a cut or something.”

“Yeah, well, thanks, but no thanks, because if the boss hears about me getting referrals without having done any actual help, you know what’s going to happen? She’s going to think I’m sending in people to just say my name. I’ll get fired.”

And I wanted to be like, well why’d you scream out your name? Isn’t that a little bit of a mixed message? And now, what, I’m supposed to back off?

But again, I felt myself getting way too invested in the situation, much more involved than I’d planned on being when I walked in this store. “Do you want to sign up for a store credit card?” The cashier was back in retail mode.

“No, just, no credit card, no gift receipt, and just make sure you get the anti-theft thing. The white thing … what do you call it?”

“Christ, no need for an attitude.”

And that was it. I was on my way out the door, I’m sure I heard Sandra say behind my back, “God, what a dick.”

Three showers, three pairs of jeans

I’m having one of those days where I can’t get comfortable, like I got dressed in the morning, but my jeans, I don’t know how to explain it, they just felt greasy, and I’m not a dirty guy, I wash my clothes somewhat regularly. Shirts, totally, I only wear them once, and jeans, even though I get multiple days in between each wash, I’m not one of those people that goes a whole season without washing. I’d say once a week, two weeks, tops. But still, these were like especially grimy, I don’t know, so I took them off and put on a clean pair.


But I still didn’t feel right, I tried ignoring it, but an hour, two hours in, I figured, all right, you know what? I can’t let this go, for whatever reason today I just can’t get comfortable in my pants, I took those pants off, I hopped in the shower, even though I had just taken a shower, I needed a clean start, another fresh start to the day, even though it was coming up on lunchtime.

And this shower, I usually don’t take two showers so close to each other, but it was so comfortable, maybe it’s because the seasons have recently changed, we’re getting our first few really crisp days of the season, like not cold enough to warrant a coat or anything like that, but definitely a sweatshirt. Heat? I don’t know, I don’t know if the heating has kicked in yet. Although, now that I mention it, I think I was supposed to get the furnace serviced. I think.

I was thinking all of that in the shower, and it just felt so good, like a sauna, I lost track of time, when I got out, my skin was raw, and when I found a third pair of jeans, these ones absolutely clean, they just chafed against my legs, it was really itchy, a violent, persistent itch that, not even five seconds after I stopped itching it, it would start up again, I just kept sitting there and squirming.

So, and I never do this, because I’m just not in the habit of doing it, but I got undressed and I started applying my wife’s moisturizing lotion, like a lot of it, by the pumpful, this stuff comes in these giant, I’m talking big dispensers, like you’re totally supposed to use a lot of it each time, and it felt great, finally the itching subsided a little bit, cool relief against my over-washed skin. I thought to myself, I don’t know why I don’t use this stuff more often. I guess, yeah, there’s a little bit of a stigma, like it’s a girly thing, a daily moisturizer. But so what? What am I that bound by ridiculous gender distinctions, that I can’t use a product that’s clearly doing something right here?

But then I got dressed, I put on my clothes and everything felt grimy again. Was it the lotion? Because, yeah, I’d expected there to be some lotion residue, but this, I couldn’t imagine it had been this bad before. I tried to put it out of my head, that whatever slimy sort of sensation I was feeling under my jeans, whatever, it was a hundred percent clean, just clean skin and fresh moisturizer.

Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for more than five minutes or so. But what can I do, I mean, a third shower is out of the question, that would be such a short-term fix, because I can’t handle any more hot water, not today, I’ve got to let my skin rest, replenish some of those natural oils or whatever. But a third shower, I probably should have thought out my day a little better. I wanted to go running, but, you know, I’d need to take a shower after, so I probably shouldn’t.

So I don’t know, I think I’m just going to stay in for the rest of the day, I could probably get away with not doing anything, in which case, I guess I could just take a really quick third shower, I’ll change right into my pajamas after. Do you think this is going to count as a sick day or a personal day? Because, it’s definitely something physical, right? Or am I worrying about it too much, in which case it would be mental? If I get a doctor’s note, am I going to have to go to a dermatologist? Do I need a referral from my primary care physician? Shit, do I have to get dressed again? I can’t get a grip on the day, I’m just, I can’t get my shit figured out.

I’ve got a hole in my pocket

I’ve got this pair of shorts with a hole in the left pocket. Few problems in life shake me to the core like a small tear on the inside of a pocket. It should be easy, to either stop wearing those shorts, or to fix it so there is no more hole. But I’ve been dealing with this all summer, nothing’s happening in terms of me remedying the situation, and it’s progressively getting worse, that small opening consuming a greater and greater percentage of pocket space every time I put these shorts on.


It must be some sort of a bug in my otherwise relatively normal human programming. For some reason, I just can’t connect the dots, come up with a way to make this problem not be a problem anymore. My inability to find a solution, I think it stems from the fact that there’s not a lot going on in my brain in terms of me thinking about my pockets. They’re something that I take for granted. All of my pants have pockets, all of my shorts, even my pajamas have pockets. Did I make a conscious decision to shop for clothing that comes with pockets? No, it’s automatic, it’s something that I’ve never had to go out of my way to even consider.

So I wake up in the morning, I put on a pair of pants or shorts, I take all of the stuff out of my pockets from yesterday and put them into my new pockets. This process repeats itself until I come across this particular pair of shorts, the one with the tiny hole in the left pocket, the hole that I notice every time I put my hands inside, to look for my wallet, to give my hands a little rest while I’m standing around idly.

And for the majority of the summer anyway, the hole was noticeable, I couldn’t help but play with it, this thing that was in my pocket but wasn’t, it’s a very minor absence of pocket, really. It was directly at the point at which the seams of my pocket came together, imagine an ice cream cone that has the slightest gap at the bottom. But I don’t usually keep ice cream in my pocket, and so there wasn’t anything melting down my leg, no urgent, “this hole is causing a problem” warning blaring in my head.

Aside from those instances in which I was physically touching that hole, I never thought about it, not at all. And so that’s part of the reason why I can’t really figure this thing out. It’s only on my mind when I’m in absolutely no position to do anything about it. As the weeks went on, the hole naturally started to grow, imperceptibly at first, but one afternoon I took a seat and felt one of my keys reach through the hole to jab me in the leg. That was sort of uncomfortable, I thought to myself, maybe I should get this hole fixed up when I get home.

But I’d get home, I’d get ready for bed, I’d throw the shorts in the laundry pile, and the hole wouldn’t register in my thoughts until I’d be wearing them sometime a week later, I’d already be out of the house, and I’d feel it again, maybe I’d feel the key. Shit, I’d remember, the hole would come rushing back to my thoughts as this unresolved dilemma, something that I’d neglected to fix.

Sometime last week I was walking down the street when I heard the sound of a coin fall to the floor. I looked down and there was a dime. Was this mine? Did this fall out of my pocket? I picked it up and put it back in, thinking surely the hole couldn’t be big enough to where actual coins were falling loose. A few blocks later I heard the same sound, but I put up a wall, tried to ignore the experience.

Later in the day I found myself spending a lot more time thinking about the hole in my pocket, time in which I’d usually spend not thinking about my pockets, about holes. I put my hand inside and fished around. Wallet: check. Keys: check. Coins … coins? No coins. In my denial I had convinced myself that while maybe, maybe I had been losing some dimes, they are the smallest after all, there was no way that I’d be dropping nickels, quarters, giant chunks of metal unable to stay in my possession.

This pocket was literally starting to cost me financially. Sure, spare change lost isn’t going to necessarily break my bank, but if I’m passing quarters, was it that out of the question to lose my keys? Could I foresee a future in which I’d be locked out of my house, on the phone contracting the services of an expensive emergency locksmith, wondering how I’d be able to prove my residence so that I’d be able to have him let me back inside?

Now I’m only thinking about my pockets, it’s like a mental tick, I’m reaching inside and moving my hands around to the point where people are starting to give me weird looks. You don’t understand, I want to tell them, I’ve got a problem, I’ve got a hole in my pocket. Only, I’m not wearing those shorts anymore. This pair of pants has no holes at all. But try telling that to my brain, to my wandering hands. I can’t tell the difference between good pockets and bad, my reaction is so involuntary at this point that I can’t even remember which pair of shorts I was talking about in the first place. I open my closet and look at my wardrobe, am I really going to have to throw everything out, to start completely over from scratch?

I came close to making an effort to getting up off of my ass and looking for a sewing kit, but I got distracted by the Internet and then next thing I knew, I was sitting at this desk writing this whole pocket lament. I know exactly what’s going to happen, the weather has been getting a lot cooler lately, I’m already finding myself wearing long pants more and more as the summer gives way to the fall. I’ll eventually put all of my shorts away and I won’t think about any of this until next April, at which point I’ll get up one day and think, wow, what a beautiful spring day! It’s the perfect weather for a short-sleeved shirt and a light pair of shorts. And I know just the pair I’ll pick, with just enough time for me to take a nice first-day-of-spring walk before going to work, arriving back at my house exactly when I need to grab my stuff and head back out the door. But what did I do with my keys? Where did all of the stuff in my pockets go?