Friday, October 24, 2008

Pantastic (A Public Service Announcement)

Author's note: Yes, this post is long. As I've noted before,
brevity is not my strong suit. But even if you choose not to read it all
(thats your choice), please catch the last full paragraph and participate in my
little experiment.

I hate shopping. Especially for clothing.

Of course nearly every guy says that. It's one of the requirements for getting your man card.* In fact,I'm told they'll take it away if you don't scratch yourself, spit a lot, and say things like this: Oh, the wife wants to go down to the mall again. You know those broads, always spendin' the money on shoes and fancy purses. Not me. I'd rather hang out in front of the big screen with my Buddy Weiser. I'm just a fine wearin' my blue jeans and an old Metallica t-shirt. That's all I need to work on the truck anyway. At least that's what I've been told (so I do say something like this, at least quarterly.)

So yes, my Y chromosome compels me to declare my disdain for shopping. But it's not just that. I really hate shopping. And not for all the regular reasons (what are the regular reasons?). I hate shopping because I'm tall. As a tall person living in a ground-huggers' world, I can't walk into a store and expect to find, say, a pair of pants that will fit me. Inevitably, I'll end up standing under the florescent dressing room lights in something that resemble Capri's, wondering if I can pull it off in the name of faux Euro styling. (I can't.) Or I'll stand in front of the mirror tugging down some other extra baggy pair as low as I can around my waist to get an extra inch or two (or three or four) of length, all the while wondering what the old ladies will say about this young buck they now have for a pastor.

All that is to say that I don't shop much. At least not in stores. Shopping for me usually involves a half hour in front of the computer (give or take an hour) , clicking through the sale pages of a few select stores that I know stock tall sizes, guessing what I think will fit. It's still not my favorite--but it's a lot better than going through the mall and striking out for three hours.

That's my regular routine. But a couple of weeks ago I decided to depart from it and risk a trip to the mall. A local store was advertising a 40% of sale and I figured it was worth a shot. I wasn't optimistic, but I needed a new pair of jeans and I'll do most anything to save a few bucks.

Upon arrival at said store, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I was elated. I found not one, not two, not three, but four pairs of pants (jeans, actually) in my regular size. Giddy as a school girl, a loaded them into my arms and headed to the dressing rooms. I figured the only question for me that day was How many will I take home?

Well, it took about two minutes for it all to come crashing down. Not one, not two, not three, but four pairs of jeans failed to fit correctly. And this time, they weren't too small. They were too big. I nearly crumpled into a ball in the dressing room with a wail. The humanity of it all! How could it possibly be!

As a shuffled back to the shelves cursing the cruelty of it all and wondering, once again, about size inflation** in the U.S, I was caught by a sales guy in an argyle sweater. Clearly, he read my emotions well. I hate trying on pants, he confided in a hushed tone. But I've found a secret. You don't need to try them on. You simply take a pair of pants and you wrap them around your neck like this. If the two sides meet at the back of your neck with little or no overlap, they'll fit just right. Trust me on this. I never try on pants in the store. And they always fit.

I couldn't help but stare at the sales guy. Then I couldn't help but check out his pants. They did look good. But I was pretty sure he was just screwing with me--that he had some bet with his buddies in the back room about how many people the could get to perform this ridiculous stunt. But nevertheless, I grabbed another pair of the shelf (things were looking up again--they had some a size smaller) and headed back to the dressing room. And, of course, I didn't try them on right away. Instead, I ducked my head low (to make sure no body could see me over the dressing room door--another problem tall folks run into in this short world), held the jeans to my neck, and tested them out. Things looked good (and I felt like a fool). So I whipped off the jeans I was wearing and tugged them on. One leg, then the other. Perfection!***

This is where I need some audience participation. Was the sales guy putting me on? Was this just a fluke? Please, go find your best fitting pair of jeans or pants, wrap them around your neck (see photo), and report back in the comments section. What is the correlation between how they fit around your waist and how they fit around your neck? Please do it! This could be a pants-fitting revolution!

*Along with having propane and propane accessories in your garage

**This is my theory that retailers are catering to the fattening up of America by making their sizes bigger (so a XL today is more like an XXL of fifteen years ago).

*** Or near perfection. They were actually a little long, but since they were only twenty bucks, I figured I could put up with it. Of course, there was a time when I'd have been thrilled to find jeans that were too long (the sheer novelty of it all!). But now I'm not so sure. As I noted to an old friend, while the extra length is clearly deemed fashionable right now, people in my position aren't supposed to be fashionable. We're supposed to sport what I've heard referred to as "Pastor's Pants"--best seen in people in my profession who cross their legs and have their pants pulled up to about mid-calf, exposing their milky white legs and grey socks. With the right length pant, I can pull this off with astounding flare.


Jake said...

Perfect! Did you know that you can check the length by wrapping the pant leg around your head, left ear over the top, under the chin and back up to the left ear--twice?

Sherilyn -The Dominee Huisvrouw said...

Well, I checked & the waist thing works, but of course there's alot more to great fitting jeans than the waist size.... but maybe that's just a chick thing.

Pastor Kuyp said...

When I read your post, I was shouting amen the whole time. I too share your sentiments on shopping, for the same reason. At least in the states, you have JCPenny or Big and Tall magazines, I havent found anything in Canada to help my dilemma. Anyway, I tried your suggestion and it seemed to work. We will have to try it again sometime.

Mike and Laura said...

Well Joel, I am not as short as Jill but I am short so from my perspective (down low) it works. I tried it in a rush because I also hate shopping and they fit when I got home. But I have to agree that as a woman, there is more to fitting than the length. Michael thanks you for your insight though because he hates shopping more than me. Now if we could find a way for me to measure his size around my head for the times when I am second hand shopping and think I may have found him a good deal.
We love Adrian and all your photos and videos. THanks for sharing.

Liam and Jessica Starkenburg said...

Joel, the picture caught my eye becasue this is how ALL Nicaraguans measure pants. No joke! They usually don't bother trying them on... just the neck test. It was a little strange for me and I'd never hear of anyone outside of Nicaragua doing it, so it's interesting to read about.