My Sporting Clothes

by Bryan

Since I haven’t posted anything in a while, here’s a short essay I wrote that I’ve cleaned up for publication here. Hope you like it.

In the mid-1990s, tearaway pants were invented. They looked cool and had buttons on the outside of each leg, so basketball players could remove their drawers with a flick of the wrist. One second, the pants would be there, and then — POOF! — they would be gone, folding away into the air like origami.

I cannot tell you where I was when I first learned of this product, but I was floored. I could tear away my pants. Soon, I was at the store buying a pair. They were made by Nike and cost $30. This was it: this was the future. This was the new me.

I still own a pair of tearaway pants. I wear them to bed and to softball games in which I play. I do not like them.

They will unbutton during a hasty trip from first to second base, or on a more leisurely journey from one side of my bed to the other. They, very much, do not want to stay on.

In the rare cases that I am able to see this creation to its apotheosis, it comes with a stinging depression. If I want to wear them again, I will have to re-button them. I can never find all the buttons, and almost always snap them in the wrong places.

Given my druthers, I will usually stick to the take-your-shoes-off-before-removing type of athletic wear that has work for, you know, decades. If I’m going to expel labor in the name of sports clothing, I’ll do with for a product that doesn’t let outsiders get the occasional sneak peek at my boxers. That’s right: not only is this worthless product difficult to assemble, everyone can see your undies.

I have two pairs of athletic pants that I really like. One is a pair of “traditional” wind pants, and the other the American sweatpant. I bought each of them for $10 and could not be happier with them.

After running through these guys, I will turn to shorts, longjohns, old jeans or khakis before I will call the tearaway pants into duty. Despite having been scrupulously buttoned prior to their stowing three months earlier, several of the buttons will be unhinged when I put them on, and, when forced to bend over and re-button them, a few more would pop off. It is maddening. If NBA players had to re-button the pants themselves, this entire species of pants would go extinct in an instant. We could send them to a museum. Our nightmare would be over.

Instead, we find them on clearance racks across the country, beckoning to shoppers in faux utility. The tearaway pants never really caught on after their high-profile launch, which is why they are the most plentiful items on the sale racks at athletics stores everywhere. You can find them in every size and every color. I can match my alma mater’s maroon, the Patriotic colors of Foxboro or the black-and-gold of the Boston Bruins. Which leads me into temptation. And before you know it, there I am, against my judgment, buying another pair.