Jerry Zezima: If the pants fit, wear them

Even at my advanced age (approaching seven decades of decrepitude), I have kept my boyish figure. And I have always been stylish because my wife buys my clothes, which I sometimes stick in a drawer or hang in a closet and promptly forget about, only to discover them months later with the tags still attached.

But when it comes to pants, I have gone to waist.

That was shockingly obvious when Sue bought me two pairs of shorts that I not only couldn’t button without exploding like the Hindenburg (“Oh, the obesity!”), but couldn’t sit down in unless I wanted to sound like I was trying out for the Vienna Boys Choir.

“You’re driving a wedgie between us,” I said breathlessly.

“They don’t fit,” Sue acknowledged.

“They’re size 34, right?” I said.

“Yes,” she replied.

“It’s what I’ve always worn,” I noted.

“True,” said Sue. “But these are a ‘slim’ cut. You need the next size.”

“Are you going to exchange them?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “You’re coming to the store with me.”

Instead of “shop till you drop,” I prefer to drop before I shop, so I won’t have to go to the store.

My idea of hell is being trapped in a fitting room as the door swings open and horrified shoppers witness the ghastly sight of me hopping around, with one leg stuck in a pair of “slim-cut” pants and the other flashing a glimpse of red, white and blue underwear with hearts on them, two pairs of which I actually own.

Sue bought them for me.

This time I accompanied her so I could try on shorts that fit properly and wouldn’t make me look like a total dweeb. Sadly, there was a “slim” chance of the latter because I was wearing dark socks, a wretchedly embarrassing fashion statement (“I’m a total dweeb!”) that would never get me on the cover of GQ – unless it stood for Geezers’ Quarterly.

“Find a size 36,” Sue instructed as I looked through a pile of tan shorts.

When I found a pair, she said, “Now find one in navy blue.”

“Now what?” I asked when I had unearthed a pair.

“Now,” Sue answered, “go to the dressing room and try them on.”

I opened the door, stepped inside, took off my size 34 jeans and slipped into a pair of shorts, size 36. I would say they fit like a glove, but they were more like a giant mitten with leg holes and a zipper.

When I opened the door and stepped out, Sue nodded and remarked, “They fit much better.”

I got a second opinion from a sales associate named Sarah, who heartily concurred.

“You look like a size 34,” she said as she surveyed my midsection.

“Thank you,” I responded. “I try to keep svelte. But why aren’t there regular clothes anymore? Everything is ‘slim.’ I tried on a shirt a couple of years ago that was a ‘slim’ cut and I almost suffocated. I had to get an extra-large.”

“That’s the way clothes are made these days,” Sarah explained. “They’re all tailored for young people.”

Sue asked if I wanted long pants. I got two pairs, “slim” cut, size 36, and brought them to the dressing room.

I was in the middle of changing when my cellphone rang. It was a guy calling to remind me of an appointment the next day.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he said.

“Not at all,” I replied. “I’m just trying on pants.”

There was a brief silence, followed by, “OK, see you tomorrow.”

Then he hung up.

When I stepped out, the ladies signaled their approval.

“Men usually don’t go shopping,” Sarah said. “Their wives buy them clothes, the men try them on at home, the clothes don’t fit and they have to come in anyway.”

“Like my husband,” Sue added helpfully.

“Or,” said Sarah, “they put them in a drawer or a closet and never wear them.”

“Like my husband,” Sue said again.

“I’m going to wear these clothes,” I promised. “And no one will guess they’re size 36. I just have to remember to take the tags off.”

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of six books. His latest is “One for the Ageless: How to Stay Young and Immature Even If You’re Really Old.” Reach him at [email protected] or via