Dear Other People,

Please describe how you put your stretchy workout pants on.

I issue this request some ten years into my stretchy-pants-necessitating exercise career, having finally conceded defeat. I can’t do it. At least, I can’t do it in less than two minutes, which is considerably longer than it takes for me to put on an entire outfit of clothing made from non-stretchy materials, such as corduroy, polyester, twill, or Kevlar. (Even button-fly Kevlar.) I believe I could get into a laced-corset wedding dress faster than I can get into my workout gear, actually. Possibly a wet suit. If I’m being honest, I bet I could get into a laced-corseted wet suit faster than I can attire myself in a single pair of capri-length stretchy yoga pants. And you know what? I would rather be getting into the corset wet-suit.

In fact, I would rather put on any other piece of clothing in the universe than stretchy pants! Hair shirts? Yes. ​Why not? ​They slide right on. And then they itch like a motherf*$#er, but who cares? A dress comprised entirely of ear-buds? Sure. Won’t it be hard to remove? Oh, certainly. I’ll need the Jaws of Life. But neither removability nor wearability is what we’re talking about right now. We are talking about the donning. And the donning of anything with Lycra or spandex is somehow impossible for me to navigate.

I start out just like I suspect we all do, one leg at a time (sorry, spiders and humans with alternate leg counts). Time and experience have taught me to begin sock-free. Why? Well, because apparently, a complex particulate relationship exists between sock atomic structure and stretchy pants atomic structure, resulting in the accumulation of gravitational energy near the attracted masses.

​ If the ensuing reaction is not interrupted, fusion of the two atoms can occur, leveling your bedroom and the surrounding entire universe. Not to mention completely eliminating not only your stretchy pants, but all ​pants. So, because I’m a philanthropist, I start out sock-free.

I carefully insert one pointed toe. After years of struggling to get this pointed toe into the pants channel complication-free, I relent. Maybe I do need to take classical ballet classes. Because however I point my toes is nowhere near pointed enough to thread my whole leg through the eye of my stretchy-pants leg-hole. I’m here to tell you that from my perspective my toe, as it enters the stretchy-pants channel, is pointed to perfection. It’s like the beak of a freaking sparrow.

“Trim your toenails!” You say? Rookie. Don’t even. Really. Don’t period. Even period. Trimmed, duh. I’ll bet you didn’t think to file for both length and toe height. I did. My toenail clearance is now so much lower than my toe height that I could paint my toes as many colors as there are and they’​d​ still be recessed. And buffed? Pshaw. I have buffed the friction completely out of the ends of my toes. When I die, engineers will study my toenails for insight on future zero-friction engine parts. My toenails are as Lycradynamic as any body part can be, including the gallbladder, which is as smooth and slippery as a gallbladder.

Doesn’t matter. Because it isn’t the toes, or the toenails, or the knees or the hair on my feet that are causing the problem. Somehow, my body is uniquely geometric, and this special geometry is mathematically configured to thwart the function of stretchy pants. My legs are yin to stretchy pants yang. If stretchy pants were to suddenly disappear from the universe, my legs would also disappear.

Once inserted, one of my toes is immediately ensnared in stretchy pant, slowing the forward progress of the balance of my leg. Wiggling my toe seems only to involve the other toes in similar ensnarement, and soon, I have five fat struggling digits, writhing in stretchy pant like little naked mole rats in a mosh pit. Neither can they be retracted at this point. Pulling back, as anyone familiar with the “stretchy,” feature of stretchy pants can attest, will resulting in the pants simply accompanying the fleeing toes to whatever destination the puller has in mind. And I don’t care how limber you think you are: You can’t out-stretch the stretchy pants. They will best you, even if you Yoga like the bendy love-child of Gandhi and Gumby. (Gambhy.)

The only way out is farther in. Press on, foot! Press on. So I do. To breach the tensile strength barrier of the stretchy pants without the help of a team of tug-of-rope champions, I pull up on the pants while pushing my foot down vigorously, simultaneously standing on the bottom cuff of the target leg. The force necessary to free the toes results in the rapid ejection of the leg from the stretched fabric, and the natural position of the heel, flexed in “free-my-toes” position, fires that right-angled extremity into the opposite side of the pants leg, pulling the material to its stretchy limits around the protrusion of my heel. The jarring release and recapture of my foot, coupled with the cuff-locking position of my other foot (“spasmodic crane,” pose, for those reading this who do made-up Yoga) result in my inevitable loss of balance, and force the release of the waistband of my pants by no fewer than one of my hands in favor of wildly waving said hand to prevent me from falling.

I can no longer breach the tensile strength of the stretchy pants with just one hand, and a not inconsiderable percentage of my brain is now devoted to flailing my arm, hopping around on the not-stuck foot to attempt to re-establish a relationship with gravity, and kicking my entrapped leg while flapping my bent knee back and forth to attempt to free my heel, like a convulsing, arrhythmic Rockette.

This exacting ratio of cognitive turmoil and physical embranglement is my precise formula for deranged, psychotic rage.

My fear of falling fades away in the white-hot intensity of my fury. The control behind my steady, calculated foot trajectory similarly fades. My awareness of the objects in the room, the reason for the pants, my ability to speak English, gone. There is no falling. There is no foot. There is only the pants fight. Paaaaaaaaants fight.

I don’t have clear recollections of what typically happens next, because I’m in berserker mode, but I believe it usually involves me growling, leaping like a popcorn kernel in a hot skillet high into the air over and over while kick-yanking my way down to the fetal position. Eventually, I release the pants and relax my body, maybe suck my thumb for a while.

Somehow, the pants are on. (Every once and a while, my underwear are somehow off, which is confounding to me. I should hire those “Paranormal Activity,” people to film me, once they find those demon people.)

And this is why I don’t do yoga, the end.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

IRON MAN PNGI will do almost anything to avoid ironing. It’s the truth- I will. I don’t know what it is about ironing that is so abhorrent to me, but I will consider almost any other method of getting wrinkles out of my clothes. Maybe it’s the ironing board. It’s all big and squeaky, and inexplicably hard to operate. Mine has not one, but two security features- you have to compress this metal…thing while applying downward pressure on the legs to get it to close. Then, it catches on the second security doodly, which requires that you, maintaining aforementioned downward pressure, AND compressing the first metal thing, also compress a second metal thing. It’s next to impossible. It’s actually easier to remove a Volvo 850 engine or a human heart. I know irons are hot and dangerous. But a double lock? There are nuclear silos with less integrity.

As an added feature, or possibly as evidence of the degradation of the ironing board over time, this security feature also activates while you are opening the ironing board, locking the board halfway open, approximately three feet off the ground. Three feet off the ground is too far below my natural waist for me to comfortably iron there, and slightly too high for me to iron at from a kneeling position (as me how I know) so I must begin a reverse version of the closing the board/security catch deactivation process: I clench both metal doobobbies like I am falling off a cliff, and vigorously shake the whole thing up and down until the legs finally release, like a huge metal crane, and snap into ironing board, full-height position. My ironing board is like, a hundred years old. I suspect it is made from old streetlights, based on its overall weight and girth. But I refuse to buy another stupid ironing board, since I already hate this stupid one, in addition to hating stupid ironing, and can’t make myself spend stupid money on stupid something so boring and stupid! I already have to buy both toilet paper and toothpaste, both of which are dull as beige tee-shirts and nonetheless complicated to buy- I must spend an hour in each aisle navigating a mind-bending array of double-rolls, triple-plys, ultra-concentrateds, etc., just attempting to formulate some common unit of measurement with which to compare takes all of my cognitive ability. Genetics probability equations are easier. Then, I have to spend another hour making a series of horrible choices about which qualities I am willing or not willing to pay for: cavity-fighting? Yes! Long-lasting fresh-breath? Why doesn’t that accompany cavity-fighting? No? I guess? Is my fresh breath really worth another $0.35 cents? Shouldn’t toothpaste just do all of those things? Otherwise, it’s just cream cheese, really. Right? Wait- there’s another one over here in a 6.7 oz package that will do all those things and prevent gingivitis for $0.45 cents more per fluid oz. Now I just need to decide which of the 35 flavors to buy… I should probably just remove my teeth individually with a ball peen hammer.

God bless whoever came up with Charmin Basic toilet paper and Colgate Total. And screw them, at the same time, for making Charmin Super Complicated and Colgate Partial.


To avoid extracting and clutch-shaking my 500-lb., galvanized steel ironing board into functioning mode, I will do just about anything to get wrinkles out of my clothes. I will hang my clothing from the shower curtain and run the shower on full hot, no fan running, for long enough to desiccate a measurable percentage of the Amazon. I will spray water on my shirt (while wearing it), and blow-dry the wrinkliest parts. I will throw my wrinkly item into the dryer with a wet towel for 15 minutes. And if I absolutely must iron, I will iron on the end of the bed, a wet towel on the floor, or, in extreme necessity, on my actual person. And I will only iron the part of the garment you can see- if I’m wearing a blazer, a cardigan, or will only be seated during the fancy-clothing event, you can safely bet your addled 401K on the fact that the back of my clothes look like a hobo just yanked them out of his rucksack. I’m not ashamed.

If questioned, I will calmly explain that everything I am wearing is 10% linen, or got wrinkly as I was saving lives.

My iron also blows. Literally- it’s like a middle-aged, gassy man. You don’t know when it’s going to blow, but you can be certain it will – it’s just a matter of time. And when it does, it always contains particulate matter- rust chunks, little bits of dirt, and the occasional fruit fly. I know about the vinegar trick. The inside of my iron is safe to use for surgery, should the need arise. Somewhere, in the bowels of that iron, is a portal to a spot along the train tracks in Gary, Indiana. And, like the ironing board, I simply cannot bring myself to purchase another one. I’d literally rather buy anything else in the world first. Washcloths! Yes. Dried pinto beans! Certainly. Lint traps! Absolutely.  Shoelaces? By the dozen.

I imagine, in my professional work attire, that I look like everything I’m wearing was retrieved from a trunk in the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Which, now that I’ve thought of it, is exactly what I’m going to say from now on.