Summer: Penny’s* Pants

The author and Penny's Pants

As I root through boxes to dig out my skinny shorts, I find Penny’s pants, a pair of fringy shorts, at least 40 years old, probably more since they were already used when I purloined them.
They’re in pretty good shape, probably because they have spent most of their denim life packed away, in a box, awaiting a body that could actually wear them.
When I’m fat, Penny’s pants seem impossibly tiny; when I’m thin, they look ginormous – I suffer from serious body distortion (more on that in a later or earlier chapter).
They are hip-huggers, popular in the late 70’s.
What goes around comes back around – hip-huggers are back, except they are now called “boy-cut” or “boy-fit.” The fringes, however, definitely date them to the late 1960’s to late 1970’s.
After my ex Jeff and I separated in the late 70’s, we decided to give our marriage another try, and I moved back to our house in Davidsburg.
Never mind that we both soon realized we had made a huge mistake – the final nail would occur a few months later, and I would move out and take a room on Jackson Street at Lyn Kidder’s, a proprietor of a local puppet company called “The Puppet Factory.”
Interesting times on Jackson Street, perhaps worthy of another book, which I’ll never write, but, then, I never thought I’d write this book.
Shortly after moving back with Jeff, I found a pair of strange shorts in the laundry. During our separation, Jeff and I had dabbled in other relationships, but, somehow, finding evidence in my own home seemed a bit of an affront.
“Whose are these? I asked, holding up the offending shorts.
Sheepishly, Jeff shrugged. “Penny’s.”
I knew he had been seeing Penny, off and on.
In fact, months before, she had tracked me down at the college newspaper where I was the editor to ask me permission to screw my husband.
In a scrubbed sort of way, Penny was pretty, small, and slender with straight long blonde hair falling to her butt, her face a shiny, not-quite-tan, red, certainly the kind of woman that would appeal to my ex, at least for a casual relationship.
I was taken aback, but I was in no position to get all sanctimonious about who my estranged husband could screw or not screw.
“I love him,” she said, all doey-eyed.
Awkward silence.
“Okay, then,” I finally said.
“I’ll treat him well.”
“Well, you really don’t need my blessing…”
“I just want to make sure it’s really over between you two.”
“I’m not with him, am I?” I wasn’t about to offer her blanket permission to pursue my husband – it just seemed weird.
Perhaps part of me wasn’t quite ready to let him go.
We went around and around in circles, with my finally saying, “Look, you’ll have to allow your conscience decide what you do or don’t do with Jeff.”
Evidently, our convoluted conversation was enough to salve her conscience, even to the extent that she enjoyed overnights at my former house.
At the time, I was only slightly larger than Penny, having spent the past year eating 500 calories a day, often just a can of generic spaghetti and meatballs, garnished with a can of generic green beans – does anyone else remember the cheap white cans with black lettering sold at Pathmark?
Divorce weight loss.
I held up Penny’s pants. “Hmmm, I think these’ll fit me.”
“They belong to Penny,” Jeff said.
“Not anymore.”
So that’s how I acquired Penny’s pants.
She got the husband, albeit temporarily, and I got her pants, which I have kept throughout the years, dragging them with me throughout my myriad moves.
I’m a hoarder, I tell you.
Since April 2017, I have been wearing Penny’s pants during my summer walks – it seems fitting for an old broad to don a pair of fringy shorts as she struts the neighborhood, showing off her new bod to all the dogs and old men – and their wives and widows.
I didn’t and don’t feel guilty for absconding with the famous pièce de résistance; from what I have heard, Penny would now absolutely have no chance of fitting into those pants.

*“Penny” isn’t her real name. I’m not that cruel.


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