Rule Of Thumbs

Today marks a breakthrough.  I’m wearing pants.

I should clarify: I have not been lounging around in my boxers (or less) this past week.  I’ve been wearing sweats, but let’s face it, they don’t count.  Anything with an elastic waistband and devoid of a zipper, while comfortable, hardly qualifies as pants.  It doesn’t even take any real effort to get them on.  If you suddenly lost both your thumbs in some  pumpkin-carving incident gone awry, you could still pull on a pair of sweats easily enough (though if you wanted to hitchhike to the emergency room you’d be screwed).  Just point your feet toward the holes in the bottom and yank ’em up.  If you wanted to wear jeans, on the other hand, manipulating the zipper and then the button would present a real challenge.  Jeans take more than eight fingers to put on, and therefore, they count as real pants.  I call that my Rule Of Thumbs.

Not that there’s anything wrong with sweats.  They’re perfectly acceptable sitting-around-the-house attire.  And in my case, driving-the-kids-to-school-and-back attire.  As long as I don’t have to get out of the car, who cares what I’m wearing?  Sweats and a t-shirt: the uniform of the unemployed.  As a matter of fact, I have made trips to the grocery store wearing sweats, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a dress code there.  I’ve seen people shopping in pajama pants before.  I think if you’ve reached the point where you don’t give a damn about going out in public in your PJs, you’ve pretty much hit rock bottom.  If I’m doing that six months from now, somebody shoot me, okay?

The reason I wore jeans today was because, I was meeting with Kid #2’s (hereafter referred to as K2, whereas Kid #1 will be called K1 – hope I haven’t confused things too much with my fancy nicknaming scheme) teacher this afternoon for a parent-teacher conference, so I figured I ought to look presentable.  Or at least like I gave somewhat of a damn.  P-T conferences always make me feel weird.  Probably because I’m forced to sit on a tiny chair that’s just the right size for a ten-year-old and pretend that this is perfectly normal and comfortable.  Also, teachers are the ultimate authority figures to me.  I still feel like if I don’t say the right thing, I’ll get sent to the principal’s office, which probably explains my nervous hand-wringing throughout the conference, and the constant nodding of my head whenever K2’s teacher brought up an important point.  Of course we study the fifty states together!  I grill her every night! I declare, so eager to please the words are tumbling from my mouth quickly and enthusiastically, when in fact I had no idea K2 was even learning about states.  And I wonder, could I even correctly identify all 50?  I’m fairly certain I’d get 46 or 47, but there are a few tricky ones in there.  Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, for instance.  Those suckers always throw me for a loop.  They’re too damn small, for one thing.  Why’d we carve up that section of the Northeast into little bite-sized morsels and then, when it came to Texas, just throw our hands in the air and say, “Have all this room!”?  It’s hardly fair.  If I were a Founding Father, aside from partaking in a steamy affair with Betsy Ross (she’s sew hot), I’d have made that whole area one big(ger) state.  Rhode Island isn’t even surrounded by water, for crying out loud!  But I’ve already blogged about the wackiness of the United States before, so I’ll reign in this rant before it gets out of control.  Bottom line: K2 got an awesome report.  According to her teacher, she’s sweet and works hard and listens well.  Those things are more important to me than knowing where Arkansas is.

I'd prefer a jacket that allows me to move around. (Image courtesy of

I kept my pants on because I also had another errand to run: I needed a new jacket.  If La Nina is going to hammer us this winter, as predicted, I figure I’d better be prepared.  I have a light windbreaker and about half a dozen sweatshirts, but was short a decent mid-weight jacket, something thick enough to ward off the chill but not so heavy that you end up looking like Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story. So it was back to Kohl’s, which I have hit twice now in one week.  Must be some kind of record.  After browsing for a little while, I found the perfect jacket.  The only problem?  It was in the Young Men’s section.  A cool-looking Tony Hawk number, stylish and urban and hip.  I tried it on, and it fit pretty well.  A little snug in the shoulders – apparently young men are a scrawny lot – but nothing that I couldn’t deal with.  Looked great, too.  However, my girlfriend teases me whenever I buy something from the Young Men’s section.  She thinks that forty year olds have no business even looking around in that part of the store.  Can I help it if I’m attracted to the fashion styles of today’s youth?!  I feel most comfortable in rock ‘n roll and/or layered t-shirts, and I scored my favorite zippered hoodie from a Young Men’s rack in Sears a couple of years back.  There’s no reason this stuff should be off limits to slightly older (yet remarkably young-looking) guys.  However, I decided I should check out the grownup’s section, too.  More out of a sense of obligation and duty than any real desire to do so.  Sure enough, most of the jackets were boring.  I did find one from Columbia Sportswear that didn’t make me retch, though.  I tried it on.  Had to admit, it felt pretty damn comfortable.  It was a water-repellent cotton/polyester blend with a nylon lining.  It wasn’t as cool-looking as the other one, though.  I had the Tony Hawk jacket in one hand, the Columbia Sportswear jacket in the other, and I kept trying them on, one and then the other, at least three times each, walking around the store and checking myself out in the mirror, trying to decide which one to buy.  I finally made a decision, and marched quickly to the cash register before I changed my mind.  I texted my girlfriend after I left.

I did not buy the Tony Hawk jacket.  I got a Columbia Sportswear older person jacket instead. I look like a dad instead of a hipster.  Sigh.

Her response?

But…you ARE a dad.

Leave it to a woman to be all rational when it comes to stuff like that!  She’s right, though.  And the truth is, I do like the jacket.  It’s exactly what I was looking for.  Come the next blustery rainstorm, I’ll be really glad I bought it.  Bring on the rain, I say!

And now that it’s after 5 and the sun is sinking toward the horizon, it’s time to lose these pants.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

9 thoughts on “Rule Of Thumbs

  1. Ha! I was just going to blog about the strangeness of wearing pants. I’ve been going for easy dresses and skirts because it’s really too hot here to wear anything else. When I put on yoga pants (just yoga pants! nothing formal, mind you) the other day, it felt SO strange.

    Oh, I LOLed re: size of P-T conf. chair and “older person jacket”. 🙂


  2. So… wait… K1… no, K2… I’m so confused. Which is which again?

    Btw, I’m thinking a hot steamy affair involving Betsy Ross would amount to sharing a biscuit or something like that.


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