Tuesday, September 17, 2002

How old do you have to be before you're old?

My grandfather was the most stereotypical of grandfathers. He lived on an acreage outside of a small town in rural Alberta. He had become a gentleman farmer on the corner of a 1/4 section of land. He had a big dog that lived outside all year, lots of cats that came and went from the yard and a ride-on tractor-style lawnmower. He had been in World War II, had worked as a carpenter and was always out tinkering in his garage on some woodworking project. He liked to play cribbage and drink rye and Seven, but not until the late afternoon. Hanging out at his farm was always fun, he always enjoyed seeing us and he always had Lifesavers for us grandkids. That made him a fantastic grandfather.

And he was old.

How did I know this? Well, it was the way he wore his pants. Hiked up, over his slightly rounded tummy, well above his bellybutton and love handles. Yeah, he was mostly bald, had liver spots and wheezed when he bent over to pick something up, but the pants were the dead giveaway. The pants were dress pants, made of hard-wearing permanent press material. They were held up by a belt, although I sometimes remember suspenders. They might be covered in sawdust by late afternoon or evening, but I'm sure they always started out every day clean and pressed, fresh from a hanger in from his closet.

So although I'm not a grandpa like him, I'm sure my turn at being old is coming. My question is, when should I start wearing my pants up high like that?

Presently, I wear my pants at the same spot that I have since my teen years - with my belt just around the front hip bone (anterior superior iliac spine, for you anatomically-knowledgeable types). My stomach is a little more pronounced than it has been in the past, and I fear that the situation (despite my best efforts) is only going to get worse. Sometime between now and death I'll choose to have pants like that, but right now I just can't bring myself to hike up my beltline to nerdsville. I can't even bear the thought of starting to raise it up.

Rasing it up brings to light another question - should I make the move up the torso all at once, or should it be a gradual thing so friends and coworkers aren't as apt to notice?

I greatly prefer the belly-covering style to the alternative - having a belly that hangs over a forward-sloping beltline. You know the style, where the belt buckle hides nicely in the fold between beergut and pubic area. Heard enough? I've visualized enough, too. I'm not a big fan of the hip huggers that are popular right now, either. Even skinny people look odd with their hipbones and natural roundness of their abdomen exposed.

I've seen other parents that are *older* than me - other parents with teenage and young adult children - but none of them have made the switch to high-ridin' polyester yet. Maybe it's a generational thing. Perhaps my mid-waist denims will be on me until I die. Perhaps my grandkids (and other young whipper-snappers) will guffaw at my Levi's and Bluenotes. I just hope that it happens so gradually that it's not too big a shock.

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