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    Fancy Pants
    Last Friday, around 5:00 pm, I officially turned into a fancy pants. My entrée, as we fancy pantsers say, was completely unplanned.

    For my 50th birthday, my husband and I spent a weekend in Rehoboth Beach. My first choice was 1978, but the time machine was booked. After unpacking at the hotel, I realized I forgot to bring pants. My husband looked at what I put in the closet and summarized, "So, you brought three jackets [four] and four pairs of shoes [five] and you didn't pack pants?" Worse: I remembered to pack workout clothes. What was I thinking? The closest I’ve ever been to a treadmill is the moving sidewalk at the National Gallery.

    I texted my friends: "I forgot pants."

    Kathryn: "Well, you are 50."

    Linda: "Buy a pair and return them when you get home."

    Determined not to let my packing faux pants ruin the weekend, we left the hotel and strolled Rehoboth Avenue. Distracted with thoughts of the Candy Kitchen, I stumbled into a rack of clothes parked outside an upscale store. When my eyes met the sale sign, my husband said he’d be back in 15 minutes.

    I ended up in the fitting room with a pair of the priciest jeans I’ve ever tried on -- originally $80. I felt such guilt trying them on, I might as well have been in the girl’s room scribbling, “I was here” on the back of the door. When the salesgirl knocked, I jumped.

    Me: “I’m not doing anything! I’m just trying on pants!”

    Salesgirl: “Uh, okay. Let me know if you need anything.”

    What she was thinking: “We have straight-jackets in your size.”

    Purchasing hesitation eventually gave way to birthday rationalizing (“Well, it IS my birthday ....). Although I’m not usually impressed by expensive clothes, these are the softest, best-fitting jeans I’ve ever owned. Now I know how the other half lives, and why they stride with such confidence: it’s the pants. I uncontrollably go from plodding to striding when I walk in my fancy pants. It’s exhausting sometimes, but that’s the price we fancy pantsers pay. That and 80 bucks ($50 on sale).

    Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I was in the closet of the fancy pants queen. My husband and I were looking at model homes in Old Town. As a rule, we don’t browse through open (occupied) houses, but we unwittingly walked into one that was sandwiched between two models. The home was so impeccably clean and expertly decorated; it wasn’t until I peeked into what turned out to be the wife’s walk-in closet that I realized people lived there.

    I’d have left immediately if my eyes hadn’t been transfixed on the pants: dozens of pants, all neatly folded over wood hangers. I’d never seen anything like it outside of TLC’s, “Clean Sweep.” Under the pants were two long rows of shoe boxes. Apparently fancy pantsers keep their shoes in their original boxes. And here I was putting empties in the garage for school projects (my youngest graduated elementary school six years ago).

    The pants, the humanity of all those pants! I estimated at least 40 pairs, twenty of which were jeans: ten dark, ten light. Is that normal? Do most women have 40 pairs of pants? And why 20 jeans -- is this woman in the rodeo?

    After we left, I talked of nothing else until my husband finally said, “Enough with the pants!” So I texted my friends. All of them were just as shocked. Heather asked, “What size were they?!” Note: I didn’t check. I do have my standards, which shocked Heather more than the pants.

    Well, I may not have 40 pairs of pants or 20 jeans, but all the better for my lone pair of fancy pants. They stand out in my closet, shaming the sloppy pants hanging out nearby. Tomorrow I’m going to surprise them with a wood hanger, right after I put my shoes back in their boxes.

    If it’s any consolation, I still have jeans in my dresser drawer (who hangs jeans on wooden hangers?) from 1978. Sure, I can’t fit into them anymore, but with hard work, exercise and liposuction, maybe those comfy jeans from K Mart with fit once again.
    You crack me up, Jean.

    I am laughing OUT LOUD!  Who counts pants?  (Wait, who am I asking?)  And who buys their pants a gift?  (Oh.  Right.  They ARE fancy pants after all.)  What pair of fancy jeans doesn’t desperately want a wooden hanger?  And as I read this…how shallow am I?  Did I REALLY ask what size those pants were - all 40 pairs of them???  Maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t have my own pair of fancy pants.

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