Pants Rising

For reasons only a trained counselor can explain I was watching an old episode (there are no new episodes) of The Lone Ranger recently. This is the classic western series about a guy wearing a mask (The Lone Ranger) traveling by horse from place to place with his “faithful Indian companion”(Tonto)—cracking bad guys’ heads—and then riding off into the sun.

In the episode I saw, the duo came to the rescue of a crusty miner. In fact, I think that was the guy’s name: Crusty Miner. But the kindly Lone Ranger kept referring to him as ‘the old timer.’

LONE RANGER: “Can you describe the men who beat you up, old timer?”
CRUSTY: “Nope. They was too quick.”
LONE RANGER: “You mean they were too quick, old timer. “
CRUSTY: “Huh?”
LONE RANGER: “When the subject of a sentence is plural—in this case, ‘men’—the correct verb would be were, not was.”

Crusty just stared. Who knew that the Ranger was not only a Good Samaritan—but a good grammarian too?

But in a later scene the old timer declared, “I’m almost fifty-seven years old—and I’ll be danged if them crooks are stealing my claim!” That got my attention.

A guy 57 years old—known as the “old timer?” By that reckoning, the Lone Ranger had to be middle-aged—perhaps making him a superannuated twenty-eight.

Granted, The Lone Ranger was filmed in the 1950’s when the perception of old age might have been different than today—but the “Old Timer” episode was more sobering than three pots of coffee.

When exactly does someone become an old timer?

How does a person know when the moment has arrived—when the transition from whippersnapper to geezer is officially underway? One sure sign is when a person uses the words ‘whippersnapper’ and ‘geezer’ in a sentence.

But especially for men, the evidence can be found in the way one’s pants ride.
I saw a kid shuffling through the mall the other day. His trousers seemed to hover just above the ground, refusing to fall in startling defiance of physics. The pants hung somewhere near his rear end—at a point where gravity usually takes over and drops most any unsecured pair of pants to the ankle region.
But not on that kid. Amazing!

I wanted to applaud, but I figured he’d take it wrong. So I just watched in wonder—the way people sit slack-jawed through a David Copperfield magic show.

But let me get back to the way pants ride on older guys. It’s just the opposite of that kid in the mall. Older guys pants are sneaking northward, day-by-day. I’ve even noticed it on David Copperfield.

So why is that happening? It’s an issue not a single presidential candidate has yet addressed—even though most of them wear pants, including Hillary.

I’ve noticed that it doesn’t seem to matter how carefully someone dresses in the morning. The pants start the slow creep skyward as the day rolls on. By mid-afternoon, they can be above the hips. At day’s end, they’re caressing the sternum.

I once heard a comedian say that his dad’s pants just kept creeping higher as he got older. “By the time he was 65,” he said, “My dad was just a pair of pants and a head.”

Here’s my theory:
As we age, we lose height. A person who used to be, say, 6 feet tall—might find themselves closer to 5 feet 9 by age 60 and beyond. Yet the waist position remains the same—making the pants appear to rise as the person shrinks. It’s an optical illusion. Yep, that’s my theory.

Regardless, the creep of the waistline seems inevitable. And it can’t be remedied by buying different sized pants. Relaxed fit, tight fit, wide fit, bulbous fit, laughing fit—no matter. Pants continue their unrelenting ascent.
If he were still around today, I guess even The Lone Ranger would be sporting a higher pants look. Tonto might notice, but be too polite to say.

And as the Ranger bade farewell, leapt into the saddle and rode away—one observer might turn to another and say: “Wasn’t that The Lone Ranger? “

“Hard to tell anymore. He’s just a pair of pants and a mask now.”