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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Who wears the pants?

Published: September 25, 2009
Section: Arts, Etc.

Ironically, when the pant sizes started to drop off, so did the amount of men in my life. I always used to dream I was skinny. My mom once told me, “Go for your dreams.” So I did.

And here I am today. With this whole new wardrobe to accommodate my slightly smaller, yet not small enough, frame. But clothes, like men, are never what they seem to be. They usually look better on the rack. And that girl over there who looks so good in her pants I had to try them on? Yeah, she looks much better in them than I do. The clothes I pick out are always too small or too tight or too big or too short or, well, never too long. Let’s be honest here. But they are oftentimes too expensive or made of really cheap material or have been tried on so many times, they’ve lost all their appeal. (Just to be clear, I’m only partially talking about clothes now.)

I always want the clothes every one else has: I want to keep up with the trends. But I am not a very trendy person. I’m more of a baseball hat, shorts, t-shirt, muscles…I mean, sorry. I was describing my clothes. I always like the ones that are never right for me. They either don’t fit, are completely out of style, or scream at the innocent passersby, “I’M TRYING TOO HARD TO FIT IN!” Which, of course, causes everyone in the near vicinity, clothes on and off the rack, to run away and lock their doors.

I see the shirts and pants and big belts you’re supposed to be wearing, and the men you’re supposed to be wearing them with, splashed across magazines, taunting me. And I know I will never wear these clothes, nor will I ever see them in real life. What’s more is that the dress I’ve been saving up for since last winter is no longer worth the price. Or I’ve saved up so long, it’s now too cold out to wear it. Better yet, I seem to like to pay full price when the next day it goes on sale.

I’m not saying I have bad luck, per se, I’m just saying that if I had to pick half empty or half full, I already spilled the glass on my new white shirt so I don’t know if it was empty or full. I just know it stains.

We’ve all heard that old saying which claims that once we stop looking, the perfect pair of pants will come strolling along? Well, I can’t go into a store and just not look at the pants in the hopes that one will hop off the hanger and come charging down the aisle at me, screaming, “Wear me!” I have to look. I have to. It’s in my nature. If I do stop looking, it’s with the hyperawareness that I am ACTIVELY NOT LOOKING for that perfect pair of jeans while instead I look at everyone else’s jeans trying to convince myself that my jeans are waiting somewhere for me, hoping I’ll run into them in a dark alley or a check-out line. Instead, I find myself walking into every store, wondering if this store holds the jeans I want and need, even though, as I said, I am not really looking for them. I create my own Catch-22 in which I still have no pants on and am not even supposed to be looking for any.

When I’m not engulfed in not looking for the pants I’m looking for, I sometimes think of those pants that I know I outgrew that were itchy and tight and unforgiving but seem to remember as comfortable and stylish and my favorite color. I remember the good times we had, the crotch holes we suffered together, the snow through which we traversed, the summer months that forced me to roll the cuffs…oh the good days! They start to outnumber the memories of the bad ones and now, to quote an appropriate book, “I just want my pants back.” This thinking has led me down the dangerous path of searching the lost and found, the trash, the bowels of my closet to find that pair of pants I’d decided long ago were no longer right for me in the hopes that they’ve either changed since I last saw them or that I was too hasty in getting rid of them. But once I find them, and put them on, the true memories come back, and I start to scratch and they squeeze in all the wrong places and I realize that they are far too critical. So once again, I am forced to ditch them. Once again, I did not really want my pants back.

I think sometimes the idea of the perfect pair of pants is far more enticing than acquiring them or searching for them. I have perfectly good dresses, tights, shirts, skirts, leggings, and shorts to get me through at least another few months. And if that doesn’t work, hopefully Brandeis will have another “The Less You Wear” dance and I won’t have to worry about what I have on. Or don’t have on. Maybe those pants will find me somewhere, somehow. Until then, I guess I won’t be buttoning anything up, or down, anytime soon.

In fact, maybe I’ll learn how to stop comparing what I have on to what others have. And by virtue of this, I can strip away my naked discomfort and clothe myself in the knowledge that someday my prince will come. And I’ll borrow his pants.