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Louis Fowler and the Misterhood of the Traveling Pants

The worst thing about losing weight is the almost constant need for new clothes.

Having lost somewhere around 200 pounds over the past year and a half, many of my old clothes resemble that of a Robert Smith costume change, circa 1987: baggy shirts, drooping pants and the in-between days of self-esteem that seem to go with all that. It was something that I have been able to mostly deal with, until recently, when my girlfriend asked me to be her date to a wedding that required “cocktail wear.”

As much as I was momentarily elated to walk into her friend’s nuptials, arm-in-arm with a person that isn’t keeping me a secret like my last insignificant other—ahem—but looking at my wardrobe, I can see why I was so embarrassing to be seen with in the past: clown-like jeans—very relaxed fit, of course—tightened with a belt that I have to make my own holes in and multiple shirts that are better suited for the rotting corpse of my former fatter life.

I was genuinely worrying about how I need to come up with a few dollars to buy some dapper new clothes—and soon—when I was walking back home from Gold’s Gym one afternoon; somewhere down Pennsylvania Ave. towards NW 16th, lying there on the dead leaves and the dirty ground were a pair of brown corduroy pants.

Inquisitively, I picked them up, expecting to find maybe a piss-scent or something far worse; I was surprised to discover that there really didn’t seem to be anything wrong with them at all. Brushing off the grass and other Earth-bound filth, I cheerfully threw the pants over my shoulder and continued my walk home, the somewhat-proud owner of a new-to-me pair of cords, a style of pant I have never worn in my life.

Wait a second—I take that back: once, my mother made me wear a very short pair of baby blue corduroy shorts to school in sixth grade, bought, I believe, off the clearance rack of at a long-forgotten Venture. Showing off my predominantly chubby legs and dimpled ass-cheeks like a Nerds of Bus Route #12 calendar model, I was psychically destroyed by the cooler kids that sat in the back of the bus on the way to school and, even worse, on the way home.

Washed and dried and ready to wear out, the velvety touch of these gently used cords felt sensual against my hairy thighs, with a perfectly snug fit that cradled both my ass and crotch with all the knowing ease of a Robinson Ave. sex worker. I tightened a belt around my waist and slipped on a much-smaller t-shirt, as well as a hoodie, for yesterday evening’s Lost Ogle holiday party at Dust Bowl.

And even though I was self-conscious, as usual, I was still glad to be in something that moderately fit me, even if I had to discover it walking down a terrible street. As I ran my hands up and down the brown fabric, I wondered who owned them previously and, more importantly, why did they throw them out on the side of the road, one leg tucked out like it was still being worn when discarded.

I still need to lose a few pounds (and save a few more dollars) until I can achieve a whole new wardrobe, those cords gave me a bit more confidence and a bit more pride in no longer wearing garbage, even if it is garbage that I’m technically wearing.

(Addendum: For the wedding, by the way, I bought myself some properly fitted slacks and a jacket, looking like an author’s photo on the back of a random mystery novel. I took them back the next day, of course, for a full refund.)

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