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New School Clothes for Dad

By Jase Graves

Now that my eldest and middle daughters are off at college dashing my prospects for retirement, and my youngest daughter has started navigating the pubescent challenges of high school, I can turn to more important matters — namely pants.

Yes, we’ve reached the time of year when, to the relief of my friends and family, I’m back to wearing trousers on a semi-regular basis. And since I hadn’t updated my professional wardrobe since the second Bush administration, I recently decided to throw caution (and several pair of worn-out pleated slacks with expandable waistband) to the wind and start over.

Unfortunately for a dude who is steadily losing the dad-bod battle, though, seemingly every men’s fashion designer now feels compelled to trigger me by advertising their garments as “slim fitting.” I haven’t squeezed my girth into anything described as “slim” since I was five years old with a Kool-Aid mustache and wearing Toughskins jeans from Sears.

Fortunately for me, when I was scrolling through Facebook looking at back-to-school pics of teenagers wishing their parents would leave them alone, I came across a well-placed ad for men’s pants that seemed to read my mind (or detect my search history after I had previously spent an hour googling, “pants that will make me look cooler than I am”).

These pants hilariously promise to be “butt molding” (whatever that means) and provide plenty of “breathing space” for other regions thanks to a “diamond-shaped gusset.” They also claim to repel stains, stretch without bagging with “new-age fabric,” somehow keep me from stinking due to drying technology and, most importantly, boost my confidence. (Did I mention the butt molding?)

“So, what is this dark magic?” I wondered. “Are these pants for real, or is this another disappointing marketing ploy for a second-rate product–like Sea-Monkeys. (I mean, the females don’t even wear lipstick like in the picture.)”

Determined to suppress my skepticism, I reached for one of my beleaguered credit cards and ordered a pair. They weren’t cheap, but how could I pass up the opportunity for what the advertising called a “cheeky upgrade” to my wardrobe that would also “prevent bulging”?

I’m happy to say that the pants fit perfectly and looked decent, so I ordered three more pair. I can’t vouch for the enhancements to my caboose since I can’t see back there, but I figure it couldn’t look any worse.

To complete the ensemble, I found some stretchy button-up shirts on summer clearance that are meant to be worn untucked and are described by the designer as “timeless and elegant — for the modern man.” The modern man isn’t named, but I’m guessing he spends a lot less time eating chips and salsa than I do.

What I like most about these shirts, other than their heavily discounted price, is that the tighter sleeves offer the illusion of actual muscles, and the body of the shirt disguises the fact that my abdomen resembles a misshapen Bartlett pear.

On my first day back to work after our summer vacation, my sweet wife told me I looked “good,” which is probably her way of saying that I don’t look quite as much like a bloated thrift-store mannequin. My youngest daughter just peered suspiciously over the top of her glasses and remained silent — thankfully.

I must admit that my fresh wardrobe has made me feel better physically and emotionally. And if you ever find yourself walking behind me, I apologize in advance for any distractions caused by the “butt molding.”

— Jase Graves

Jason (Jase) Graves is a national award-winning humor columnist, a married father of three daughters, a lifelong resident of Longview, Texas, and a Texas A&M Aggie. He writes about home and family issues from a humorous perspective for the Cagle Cartoons syndicate and his blog. Other than writing, his primary hobby is sleeping as late as possible. His winning Nickie’s Prize for Humor Writing essay, “The Sisterhood of the Giggling Rants,” is included in Sisters! Bonded by Love and Laughter, published by the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. His piece, “Victoria’s Worst-Kept Secret,” is included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Crazy Family.

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