Drop Your Pants Here

That is the sign at the end of our street. It is on a signboard attached to the Laundry on the corner in letters a metre high.

You can see it all the way down the hill as you come into town from the south on the State Highway.

There are other signs, in much smaller letters, attached to the laundry building. One gives the opening hours, as you would expect, and another tells about the 24 hour Laundromat and internet café. But high above all the others is “Drop Your Pants Here”.

Now, at one stage in my life, that would have made sense.

Do you remember those striped braces that great-grandfather used to wear?

I can remember him scything the grass in pants held up in six strategic places by a set of braces.

If he needed to drop them, though I never actually saw him do it, he could lower each side over the appropriate shoulder and his pants would fall about his ankles.

For many years after him, pants worked the same way. Whether they were held up by a belt, or by a pyjama cord, or just by gravity assisted by a button, or a series of buttons, or a zip, with or without a button, whenever you needed to drop those pants, you released the appropriate fastening, and the pants fell in a heap, which you could step out of, and often did, leaving the pants in their heap on the floor.

But no longer.

Whether the pants are designed by Ms Cooper, or by Messrs Levi and/or Strauss, they stubbornly refuse to budge of their own accord when the rip-cord is pulled.

Just as well these modern geniuses don’t design emergency parachutes for pilots!

But then none of you younger people can remember the war, can you?

As I was saying, when anyone nowadays needs to divest themselves of their nether garments, they have to force the legs to move slowly and painfully towards the ankles.

One possibility is to roll the legs over so that they end up inside out, and then it takes all of 15 minutes to restore the pants to their original format.

I can only assume that clothes designers have two valets each, one to yank on each leg of their pants.

A year ago I bought a pair, and have reluctantly worn them on one or two very special occasions, like the funeral of my favourite brother-in-law, or the prizegiving of my grandson’s school.

This year I decided I could use a new pair of jeans because my old ones, while perfectly OK, were a bit 'stressed'. So we visited the men’s clothing shop.

We looked at skinny, slim, and regular, but they were all far too tight for any practical purpose. So we tried straight, and they still caused problems, but there were no more styles, so we had to settle for straight.

I am wearing them now.

I am seriously considering sleeping in them and never trying to take them off again.

So “Drop Your Pants Here” may continue to shine across the cityscape.

If only I could!

Frank Gaze is a New Plymouth writer, blogger, and octogenerian.