Of Pants and Kings

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about pants.

I’m unemployed and desperate to find a job that might cover the bills. I have a car payment, rent, and groceries to consider. This doesn’t even cover the necessities, like pizza rolls and cigarettes. I know that somehow I’m going to have to find a way to get all of that blood squeezed out of a turnip, but I just haven’t managed to find anything yet.

I know what you’re thinking. “Matt, What the crap does any of this have to do with pants?”

Don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

As I’ve been searching the internet job listings, desperate to find a job that I am both qualified for and capable of paying the bills with, I am starting to worry that maybe those jobs don’t exist. I’m probably going to have to find 6 or 15 part time jobs making minimum wage to keep me rolling my usual lifestyle. Troubling, though, is that I can’t even find those jobs. I’m not used to searching for a job in a market that literally wants blood, stool, and saliva samples to sling coffee. Okay, so maybe not literally, but it is only a matter of time. The last time I had to hunt for a job was in 2006, well before the Reptile Overlords destroyed the economy in an effort to make us more pliable to their whims.

I saw that in a documentary. Trust me, it’s the truth behind the Great Recession.

In the past, I’ve never gone more than a couple of weeks without a job offer.

I really haven’t. I’ve always been the guy that everyone says, “I can’t believe you’re wasting your life working here.” I’ve never had to try and find a job. They’ve always just crept up… mostly through nepotism, and mostly through my willingness to take jobs that most of my friends thought were either boring, gross, or evil. Now, though, everyone my age meets my qualifications. We all type 100-words-per-minute, we all graduated high school, and most importantly, we’re all desperately collapsing into a form of social cynicism that comes with pushing on 30. No one cares if the company is evil. It has dental. DENTAL!

Of course now that I can’t find work to save my ass, almost literally this time, I find my self-esteem is plunging to the depths of the Andes Trench faster than C’Thulu. I have a hard time telling myself to get out of bed, or off the couch, or to stop staring blankly at the job listings waiting for someone to come into the room and shake me out of the surreal nightmare that has become my life! 

The conventional “pounding the pavement” job search has disappeared from the modern world, and that leaves me sitting here in my cold, dank cave clicking through job board after job board. I search for any job that doesn’t require a college degree or special training. It’s harder than it should be. It seems like even Mickey D’s wants a BS in Fry Cookery these days. The longer I click page after page of jobs I am under-qualified for, the lower and lower my self-esteem drops.

Then, I find myself laying in a ball on my love seat watching syndicated television.

That’s how I found myself watching a rerun of “How I Met Your Mother,” and giggling numbly along to the conversation about underpants.

I won’t bore you with details. You either already watch HIMYM and know about the Underpants Radius, or you don’t and couldn’t care less. The point is, one of the ensemble was in a similar job hunting situation as myself and as his depression grew, the distance he would travel from his bedroom in his underpants grew with it.

Look, I talk a big game about being anti-pants, but that’s a cultural joke hanging over from my drunken and free-partying early 20s. My friends, as Neo-Bohemian as we were, decided that pants represented all that was wrong with modern society.

“Pants,” we’d say, “are the symbol of all human repression and anal retention.”

Here’s my pants secret. I am both repressed and anally retentive.

I have a negative underpants radius. I wear pants to bed. I don’t let anyone see me in my underpants if I can avoid it. I like wearing pants. It’s a crime in the eyes of my friends, but I am only human. Humans sin.

I could relate to the underpants, though, because my actual depression signifier is worse… much, much worse.

I am a filthy, disgusting animal.

The lower my self-esteem gets, the less often I bathe. Yes. You heard me. I’m a stinky, dirty beast. You should all feel free to point and laugh.  I mean, if I’m feeling confident, rare, true, but it happens, I will shower at least every day, sometimes two-three times a day. Most of the time, I shower ever couple of days. I don’t want to feel too gross, after all. I am aware of social obligations.

When a real, heart-wrenching emo-spiral is underway, though, it might not be uncommon for me to one day exclaim, “I don’t remember the last time I purchased body wash,” and mean it.

That isn’t the entire depth of my disgusting slovenliness, though. No, no, no… it gets much worse from there.

If I am not cleaning myself, then… I’m not cleaning my clothes either. Hell, I’m probably not changing my clothes all that often.

Shirts, yeah, shirts are easy to change. If you practice enough you can change shirts on stage while being stared at by a thousand audience members without them noticing. Magicians do that all the time. I’m talking about the real clothes. Pants. Underpants. Socks.

For some reason the socks are the part that bothers most people. Probably because I have gross feet. That’s another story, though.

So, I go out into the world, unclean and wearing three or four day old pants. People know. How could they not? I notice other people and their pants. It’s what we’re trained to look at by our alien overlords. It’s how we identify the weakest members of the herd.

A guy with fresh pressed slacks? That guy is probably pretty successful.  He at least has it together enough to show the world that he is actively trying to be successful.

The guy wearing khaki shorts? He probably wears a nametag to work, but he also probably enjoys what he does!

The guy wearing cut-off jeans? He probably doesn’t care about your corporate rules.

That fat dude wearing the torn up jeans with five days worth of Cool Ranch Dorito dust on them? He’s the guy going through a really bad time and not likely to snap out of it any time soon. You’ll notice the change when he does because he’ll probably show up one day in pressed slacks… he might wear a tie.

When they say that the clothes make the man, they’re about half right. The clothes are definitely part of the package. They’re part of how the world sees us and how we see ourselves. It’s also a reflection of what we have going on inside. We dress to show our soul, even if it’s camouflage.

Right now, my soul is being shown with torn jeans.

Maybe my beatnik-come-lately friends were right. Maybe pants really are the devil.

Maybe I should give skirts a try…



PS: Utilikilts are not kilts. They are skirts. I’m not knocking skirts. I’m just saying, stop getting angry about word definitions and accept that you wear a skirt. It’s cool with the rest of us.

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