The Measure of a Man: Webbed Prose – March 13, 2014

13 Mar

Once again, another foray into the realm of creative writing based on, or, rather, inspired by, an article from the web. Although this attempt is slightly different. I first read this article in an actual magazine on a 14 hour flight from DWF to Seoul, South Korea. The article is part of a bigger section based solely on jeans. It’s in the Style section of Esquire Magazine and it’s about Mark Warren who’s ashamedly afraid of skinny jeans and his quest for a mandated new pair of jeans. Here’s the piece: A Day of Shopping for Denim

The Measure of a Man

 I am always striving to become a better man, but sometimes along the pursuit of perfection or self-betterment you can get lost on a path. It’s like walking through the forest toward a giant mountain peak in the distance; you know the final destination, but how to get there is never clear. All anyone knows is that they needed to keep going forward. Upward and onward toward the peak. That vague platitude was all I had until I realized the perfect way to judge the success of a man. It is such a hidden and barely perceptible relationship, but rest assured it is nearly flawless in its assessment of success and the quality of a man. This is a secret I’m giving away for free under the assumption that making the knowledge public will only make the unnoticed relationship even more steadfast in its perfection. The measure of a man can be absolutely and perfectly measured by his ratio of pants to days of the week.

Let me expound on this success measuring ratio, if one has a ratio of 1:1 (one pair of pants for every one day of the week) this is a gentleman who is moderately successful. He has the means of wearing a new pair of pants Monday through Sunday. . .well, it isn’t rocket science, the more pants a man has the more successful he is. That’s all there is to it. I imagine a person like the President never wears the same pants, he just has a constant cycle of new tailor-made pants lining his closet week after week, and his success reflects that. So, the president’s ratio is something like an infinity to one. Where as someone with only one or two pairs of paints, even if they have the same infinite number of shorts, swimming trunks, jorts or capri pants, will not be a successful man. Let me share how I discovered this measure success on my journey toward self-betterment.

When I made this discovery, I was not very successful. And my number of pants reflected that. I only had one pair of jeans that I would wear regularly, another pair for some of my messier work (painting , gardening and general handyman chores around my apartment complex as a way to cut down on my main expense of rent) a pair of flannel pajama bottoms reserved for lounging, but not limited to only home wear. In fact, there were many times when I wore the pajama bottoms to the grocery store or to wait at the DMV, but before I realized the importance of pants, I even wore them to singles mixer where the invite suggested “casual attire.” And the final gem in my unimpressive collection of pants was my steady Adidas navy polyester track pants with three yellow strips down the side. These were the pants I wore everywhere with any and every shirt combination.

Then one day while stopped at an annoyingly long traffic light, I was deep in thought about why I was struggling from pay check to pay check and never seeming to be able to get even one measly step ahead in life. Then I saw a van pull up to a cleaner in a strip mall. A man opened the back door and began to load plastic covered bags into the back of the van. I watched as suit after suit was loaded into the van for delivery. I was shocked, that there were that many men in my very town that could afford not just these fancy suits, but to have them dry cleaned and delivered to their homes. Before the light turned green, I looked down at my trusty navy track pants and tried to remember the last time I had washed them. I scratched off a bit of dried something that had fallen on them, and realized that the men getting their pants delivered to them never had to consider the last time they washed thier pants because the quality of their life put a premium on clean, different pants. They didn’t wait for them to get dirty, they cleaned them so they wouldn’t get dirty.

That was the moment I realized the importance of pants. I don’t remember where I was going, but wherever it was I skipped it and turned into the closest strip mall where the dominate store was a thrift department store. No strip mall with its main store as a thrift store is doing very well, and looking back on the situation I see that it was metaphorically the best place for me to begin my journey to the mountain peak of success, because, as I said, I was not doing very well either at this time in my life. I went into the thrift shop and went directly to the long rows of soiled pants. I found my section with my waist size and grabbed the first pair that didn’t look like it was donated by a homeless man. Without even trying them on I took them to the counter and paid for them, then asked if the attendant didn’t mind if I used the changing room to put them on so I could wear them out. That is how instantaneously ashamed of my regular navy Adidas track pants I became. Fuck them in their probably flammable, mostly plastic, very dirty ass. If I hadn’t thought of using the track pants as object of motivation, I would have burnt them right there in the dressing room and left the ashes for some poor person serving their community service to clean up. I walked out of the thrift store with my head held high in my surprisingly comfortable and stylish new, used jeans.

I then drove directly to my father’s house to tell him the good news about my realization that I have indeed been slacking on my potential and was finally ready to live up to the name and genes he’d given me. After telling him the story, he could see the boldness of my new thrift store purchase and universal truth of my newly discovered success ratio and knew that I was on the right path. He was so proud of me that he took me out that very instant to be fitted for a new suit on his dime. I watched every movement of the tailor as if I was an apprentice on the first day of the job. The man who made success was measuring my inseam. That was something I need to fully absorb.

On the drive home my father said that he would give me one his suits that was closer to my size than his. And just like that I nearly doubled the number of pants I owned, which made me regret not just leaving or donating the track pants so I could have actually doubled my pants and my success all in one afternoon. And let me tell you the self-improvement and betterment followed in rapid succession of that afternoon. Some people may say that my success is related to a whole lot of good luck and knowing the right kind of people, but I know better. And now you do too. This profound moment of my life was the turning point from coddled helpless wanna-be using excuses and dirty track pants to the successful, respected, owner of twelve different pairs of pants you see before you today. Dream big, success is real and within your grasp.

The End

-C. Charles

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