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The battle of the bulge
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I made a major decision recently. I decided to buy myself a pair of blue jeans.

A 41-year-old man should not take on such a thing without first giving it a great deal of thought, which I thought I had done.

First, I asked myself if this was a first sign of middle-aged craziness.

Men do a lot of strange things when afflicted by that condition. They quit their jobs at the bank and go off somewhere to become wood-carvers or fishing guides.

Others leave their wives and buy themselves sports cars, while still others have hair transplants, date girls — girls whose first names end in i (Tami, Debbi, Staci) — and wear gold neckchains.

But, I decided, none of that could be happening to me. I’m not looking to quit my job, I have plenty of hair, and I took out Tami, Debbi and Staci (one at a time) and none worked out. I had underdrawers older than all three.

Second, I had to ask myself if I could still fit into a pair of jeans.

I stopped wearing jeans after I graduated from high school. I was quite thin in high school and my jeans fit me perfectly.

I am by no means obese now, but I have noticed my body taking on a different and more rounded shape in an area that may be described as the navel and surrounding areas.

It’s caused, I thought, by fallen chest arches.

But don’t they advertise those jeans with a "skosh more room" for the mature jean-wearer?

I went to the department store and found the menswear department.

"How may I help you?" the salesman asked.

"I’d like a pair of jeans," I replied.

"And what waist size?" said the salesman, eyebrows raised.

"Thirty-four," I answered.

"Let’s start at 36 and see where it takes us," the salesman suggested.

I couldn’t get the zipper all the way up on the 36s.

The 38s fit OK in the back, but they were still a bit too tight in the front and gave me the distinct look of being about three months pregnant.

I even tried on a pair in the 40s. I have a rather small backside. There’s enough room in the seat of that pair of jeans for a small company of Chinese soldiers to bivouac.

"I’m afraid, sir," said the salesman, "you have the two-bellies."

"The two-bellies?"

"Indeed, sir. What happens to some men who reach middle age, they develop two distinct, shall we say, midsections?

"They have one just above their belly button and then another one below it. The two-bellies make is almost impossible for one to fit snugly or comfortably in a pair of jeans, even one with extra ‘skosh.’"

So I had only been kidding myself when I thought I could still fit into blue jeans.

I’m a two-belly, and my blue-jean days are sadly behind me.

"Could I interest you," the salesman asked, "in a fabric with more give? Say, polyester?"

God, the ravages of age.


Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.