Monday, November 30, 2009

Shop and Drop

In December of 1966, I was a recent college graduate with a good job in an industrial publishing department. I had a pretty young wife, an eighteen month-old son and a two month–old daughter. This was the first Christmas that our son, Brian would be old enough to really appreciate the holidays; and since it was the first Christmas following several years of college-induced poverty, it was the first year we had any money to spend on gifts.

We went shopping at the brand new Natick Mall in nearby Natick, Massachusetts. It was the first enclosed shopping mall in the area and situated near the very first New England shopping mall, Shoppers’ World.

I was feeling proud as we walked along the crowded mall toward the exit. After four years of going without, I was dressed nicely and my arms were full of gifts. No more worn out clothes and tennis shoes. No more apologies for paltry gifts.

The style in men’s clothing at the time was slim and trim. I wore a fitted button-front shirt with a narrow necktie, black tapered-leg chinos with no belt and black pointed-toe shoes. The look was made for a skinny guy like me.

Chris walked beside me carrying Kelly Anne while Brian toddled ahead, exploring the indoor plants and benches.

When we reached the doorway, I switched the packages to my left arm and squatted down to scoop up Brian in my right arm and carry him out to the car. As I stood up, I heard a ripping sound. The seam down the back of my pants had split open, and they began to slide down my hips.

I stepped out into the frigid winter weather walking bowlegged to keep the pants from falling to my knees. The throng of shoppers entering the mall stared as I struggled toward the parking lot. I turned to my wife for help, but she was enjoying my predicament.

The pants slid down to my knees after ten or twelve steps, prompting peals of laughter from Chris. I switched from walking bowlegged to walking with my feet apart, hoping to keep the pants from falling any further. It was no use. After a few more steps the pants dropped to my ankles. With both arms full, I hobbled the rest of the way to the car.

When I reached our Volvo Duett wagon, I opened the back doors and set Brian and the packages inside. Chris caught up with us, laughing hysterically. I pulled up my pants and lifted Brian into the rear seat.

We didn’t talk much on the ride home. I was nursing my wounded pride, and Chris was giggling the whole way.

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