The ripping sound was barely audible, like a whisper in my ear. It’s as if my pants were saying, “I’m going to seriously complicate your afternoon.”
I’d just passed through airport security. Having slipped on my shoes back on, I looked around for a free chair where I could sit down and tie them. There were none. It’s a Barefoot genetic deficiency–none of the men in my family are good at tying our shoes standing up.
As I usually do, I hunkered down to lace up my shoes. That’s when the back of my trousers split–there’s no other way to say it–from belt to crotch.
I should interject, here, that I’ve actually lost weight in the past couple of months. So this was not a Darren’s-fat-ass problem, but rather a suit-pants-structural-integrity problem. That suit was neither cheap nor old, so I’ll be having a sharp word or two with my tailor.
My first thought was of my underwear. The trousers are charcoal-coloured, so the contrast could have been worse.
My next thought was that I was facing ten hours of travel across the continent, and my luggage had been checked through to Vancouver. This was bad.
My next thought was “Pants splitting? Seriously?” This is the stuff of Tom and Jerry. It’s up there among the great 20th century comedy cliches, right next to “stick finger in electrical outlet” and “football to groin”.
I finished tying my shoes, stood up, and put my back to the nearest wall. I subtly explored the damage, which was severe. I untucked my dress shirt and shifted my satchel to hang over my back. This, for the moment, protected me from any more immediate humiliation.
I made a quick, furtive lap around the retail outlets in my immediate vicinity. I wandered into the Harley Davidson store, checked out the generic duty free shop and poked around the Puma store.
Do you know what they don’t sell in airports? Pants.
Then I had my best idea of the week. I hustled over to the local Hudson News and Gifts, and bought myself a sewing kit. Then I retreated to the closest men’s room.
I spent the next 25 minutes doing the world’s worst sewing job on my trousers. Using what I believe is known as a basting stitch, I first sewed the outside, and then went back over it on the inside. This is the result (click for high-resolution repair action):
It wasn’t pretty, but you’d have look quite carefully at my butt to spot it. I silently thanked Carla, the Head of Wardrobe in my theatre school. She taught me the basics of sewing in first year university.
The worst part, as you might imagine, was spending that much time standing in my underwear in a busy airport bathroom stall. I’m surprised that I didn’t get propositioned or arrested.
To my relief, my poor stitching withstood two flights, a layover and a taxi ride home.
William Gibson once wrote that jet lag is the result of soul not being able to travel at airplane speeds, and you need a few days to recover it after you arrive. I feel the same way about my dignity.
Can I blame the Transportation Security Administration for this? They made me take off my shoes in the first place.