Al Batt: Cargo pants — gateway to adventure or man’s purse pants?

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I felt like I should be pulling a semitrailer.

Al Batt

I lost my wedding band while I was wearing cargo pants.

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I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking my wedding band retired to Florida where they play ancient rock and roll at senior citizen centers.

Not that wedding band. I’ve lost them too, but what I’m writing about is the wedding band I wore on my ring finger. I walked outdoors and uphill with a head as empty as a hollow gourd on a frigid day. I wore no gloves and had lost weight. The ring slipped off. I added miles as I looked for the ring. I contacted lost and found departments. No luck.

I thought about a wedding back when I was a young bachelor living in the Twin Cities. A couple asked me to be in their wedding. Not as comic relief, but as a groomsman. I didn’t know them that well, and the wedding was in Wisconsin. I walked on the narrow edge of a great abyss as I mulled it over while sitting in the yard of a neighbor and watching his young boys beat the daylights out of one another with boxing gloves in a jury-rigged ring. Their father said when things start badly, they end badly. He was talking about boxing, but I figured it applied to weddings, too. I didn’t want to foul their plans, so I became a part of the wedding party of nodding acquaintances. I’d take things as they came because you never know. They gave me a dandy keychain with their first names on it, and with their enthusiastic encouragement, I added it to the ring holding my car and apartment keys.

On the day I lost my beloved ring, I wore cargo pants with at least 137 pockets. I’d become a cargo ship on two legs and could take out the trash in those pockets without needing to make two trips. Cargo pants make it tough to skip through a TSA metal detector at the airport because I’m going to have something I shouldn’t have in one of those 137 pockets and be given a lecture and a complete physical. I’ve learned that cargo pants save me from carrying a satchel. If you have cargo pants, you haul cargo. Pack mules probably wear them.

Walking around in pants with bulging pockets is excellent exercise. I’d have to pay a gym a princely sum to lift that much weight.

The top of my dresser holds the detritus from the pockets of my blue jeans. Those trousers have five pockets including a small watch pocket that functions as a holder of coins, tickets or keys. From those five pockets came a large red handkerchief (bandanna), a Fisher Bullet Space Pen (a pocket-sized writing instrument), a plastic comb from Southside Barber Shop and a tiny Swiss Army Knife with a knife blade, scissors and screwdriver. When I wore cargo pants more often, I carried a Leatherman Micra, a handy tool aggregator that includes a knife, scissors, three screwdrivers, ruler, nail cleaner, tweezers, bottle opener and nail file. If I’d emptied my cargo pants pockets on the top of that dresser, there would have been a set of socket wrenches complete except for the 9/32-inch socket I’d misplaced, and a surprisingly intact 1976 22-volume set of the World Book Encyclopedia.

Emerging from a pocket of my jeans was a Saint Peregrine coin. Saint Peregrine is the patron saint of cancer sufferers. It’s a good idea to encourage good luck. I used to carry a worry stone — a pocket-polished small rock with a thumb-sized indentation. Also called palm stone, thumb stone, fidget stone, soothing stone or sensory stone, a worry stone is used by holding the stone between the index finger and thumb and gently sliding the thumb back and forth across the crater. This action reduces stress. I lost that stone. I worry about it. I’ve lost many good luck pieces, but I keep calm and carry on. Life is a series of losing things. Not everything is in the last place I look.

It took forever to lose that key chain bearing the first names of the wedded couple I barely knew.

I hope they haven’t lost a wedding band.

Al Batt’s column appears every Wednesday in the Tribune.