A long time ago, in an AA meeting far away, a friend of mine took a peek at the leather label on the waistband of my 501 Levis.
“Thirty-one!” he exclaimed. “I can’t remember when I had a thirty-one-inch waistline.”
Obviously, I can. But I assure you, it’s waisting away. I give up ground grudgingly, inch by inch.
FOR YEARS AND YEARS, I wore thirty-ones and thirty-twos. That measurement survived a bilateral nephrectomy (both my diseased kidneys removed) that resulted in a part of my stomach pooching out, a kidney transplant, years of hard action and rough exercise (“Larry, you’re looking positively brawny,” said another friend at one point, a year after I had taken up tennis), and parenthood.
Granted, in one dimension, height, I have been shrinking steadily for years. Take prednisone every day for 30 years, as I have, and the bones soften up. I am now a smidge shorter than my younger son’s godmother, who came over for a visit last week and compared herself to my sprouting older son, proclaiming her stature as five feet six.
Gravity works its wonders, year by year. A picture stuck to our refrigerator shows me at our younger son’s christening in 2002. I am wearing a luxurious pair of wide wale corduroy trousers bought from the late J. Peterman catalog, a skimpy size 32. My hair is brown, too.
Within three years, I was being congratulated by a new friend of ours at the kids’ taekwondo school, who complimented me on my luck at having such a young wife at my age.
I always did say Sally would look as good at 50 as she did at 30, and I was right.
FAST FORWARD TO MY DISCHARGE from my last emergency hospitalization. I pulled off the hospital gown and got out my clothes, not seen or worn for a week, and failed by six inches to be able to fasten the waist button of the trousers. The hospital had bollixed up my dialysis, given me peritonitis, and run a succession of IV infusions. I had packed on nearly 40 pounds of fluid weight.
I went home in sweat pants.
Over the next week, under my own care on home dialysis, I peeled off the excess fluid at the rate of about five pounds a day. I had had Sally buy me a pair of Dockers in waist size 40, which I expected to wear for no more than that week, and indeed I didn’t.
But I never have gotten back to my former stable size, which, in later years, I had surrendered to a 34 — and I had hated doing that.
Now, I find, Dockers does not make pants in 35-inch waist sizes — only even increments of two. So I have two pair of size 36 stay-press Dockers, which I intend wearing only so long as I wait for a kidney transplant — and a closet full of 34s, many of them very nice, which have been relegated to the “someday” category.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?