Column: Losing weight can make it harder to keep your pants on

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 13, 2002

Most of my childhood and young adulthood was spent being a skinny person. It was no problem. At least not for me. I could belt down a malted milk or two, having already consumed a large pan of over-buttered popcorn, not to mention the customary number of meals and a snack or two in between, and never gain an ounce.

In elementary school, when the school doctor appeared on the horizon once or twice during the year to measure and weigh her little victims, I and a couple others always managed to outrage her by being nine or ten pounds underweight.

Letters sent to my mother after each of these weigh-ins implied that she was starving me and suggested darkly that starving children was not acceptable. My mother was more than a little upset by these missives. Despite my many faults and shortcomings, she was unaccountably fond of me and to be told she was starving me upset her beyond measure.

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Outraged on her behalf, my father sought out the Cruikshank family doctor, who promptly wrote a letter to the powers that be at the school.

The letter ran something like this: &uot;I’ve known this kid’s family for three generations. They’re spare, wiry people, healthy but not given to plumpness. Believe me, no one is starving in the family.&uot;

When the inevitable came about and I, in middle age, began to add unwanted pounds, remembered his words, I had additional worry in pondering whether I might or might not have been a doorstep baby. Because no one could possibly classify me as either spare or wiry.

For some years I fought the battle of the bulge, until grown happily old, I donated my clothes of slimmer mode to charity and gave up caring whether I was thin or not as long as I could get through doors.

During the last several years, though, food is not as interesting to me as formerly. I still eat but with considerably less enthusiasm. It never occurred to me that my lessening appetite might decrease my girth. I did notice that my clothes fit a bit more loosely.

I should have given it a little more thought, after all I’m of a conservative bent and thanks to my mother’s teaching have always tried to be a lady. Though, I admit, it has never come easy.

The catastrophe came upon me a month or so ago when I was on the way to the dentist. I did notice that my blue jeans, my customary uniform, were a bit looser than usual, but my mind on the dentist, I took little note. Frankly I wasn’t interested.

My dentist has an office on the lower level of the medical building on St. Mary’s Avenue. Just as I reached the top of the stairs, my jeans slipped their moorings and lay crumpled around my ankles.

It was what you might term a fraught moment. It was made a little more fraught by a somewhat elderly man, ascending the stairs with his cane. He came level with the jeans just at the moment of their wrapping themselves around my ankles.

Having been trained to rise above embarrassing moments, rather than giving way to them, I gave him a cheery good morning. He continued to stare at the jeans around my ankles in a rather dazed manner, and made me no reply.

Refusing to accept defeat, I mentioned to him, in a rather too enthusiastic tone that it was a perfectly beautiful morning, &uot;real spring weather.&uot;

I had to share my opinion of the weather sort of over my shoulder, because I was afraid that if I attempted to turn to the door from which he was leaving (in all possible haste) I might well trip over the pesky jeans and take a header down the stairs.

Once I was blessedly alone, I managed to retrieve my jeans and even get a safety pin from the dental office staff to keep me decent until I could have my tusks cleaned and get back to my own home.

After a decent length of time I more or less forgot the incident until Sunday, when Chris Schocker brought me a more tightly fitting pant suit. We were headed for a memorial gathering for our friend, Jeanette Wong. Chris pointed out to me that she felt that what I was wearing seemed to her to sag a little.

As she pointed out, the occasion was a memorial service, not a visit to a dentist, and therefore I should be a little more mindful of maintaining my dignity.

Quite true, of course.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.