Two weeks ago I lost the top button of my pants in a urinal in Grand Central Terminal.
When I say “my pants” I mean my favorite pants, black chinos. Have you ever had a pair of pants that seemed to you like no other pair ever factory-assembled? That you put on and thought, Damn, whose ass is that? These were those pants. My Pants. They were rare and wonderful, and all the right shapes. Never since have I been able to find anything even remotely as flattering—nor as ass-flattering. If I had I would have bought ten pair, invested my life’s savings into pantsing my future. But, alas, Urban Outfitters was sold out.
Truth be told, the button in question had been displaced for some time, having initially wriggled free over months of fastening and unfastening. I wore these pants almost every day for the two months after I bought them, and also I drink a lot of coffee. The button on these chinos was a little metal post, like a jeans button. Now it was gone, lost to a filthy, piss-drenched drain on 42nd Street.
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Two months ago I received an invitation to my five-year high school reunion. I threw it away immediately. I didn’t even look at the date or the schedule of reunion events—something about a parade, something else about a bar. I saw a picture of four guys I never cared for pointing at a sign that read CLASS OF 2007. What I wanted to throw away was the idea that five years ago I was a high school senior. Stinky! Stinky! Stinky!
Hefty! Hefty! Hefty!
I can’t decide whether 2007 seems impossibly long ago or impossibly not-very-long ago. Somehow it’s both, in that funny perspectival way of conflicting emotions. So much has happened in the intervening years that I shudder to think how old I felt at eighteen. Perhaps I really was old, and now I’m simply older. Or, perhaps age is a function of foreshortened time, hard lessons learned and losing battles fought, that taken together bring about a general resignation to a growing number of things, the exhaustion of which just makes us feel old. I don’t imagine I’ll be sure for another five years, or maybe five years after that.
Part of my hesitation about my impending reunion, I told myself, has to do with an aversion to conversations with near-perfect strangers that begin, “So…what are you up to these days?” This is a well-known opening act for the better-known headliner, “Well I’ve been…” from whoever it is I’m stuck talking to. Perhaps I’d be more inclined to participate if I were living abroad, or the star of my own TV show, or a mule running used paperbacks to Kandahar. Living at home and looking for jobs don’t quite seem schmoozeworthy.
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