A few days ago the button on my shorts — after gamely attempting to deal with the enormous tensile strain caused by my middle-aged spread — abruptly fell off. I immediately thought of the crucial line of a ’70s commercial for a product called The Buttoneer that claimed to securely fasten buttons. As the ad showed footage of buttons dangerously exploding away from pants, shirts, and other articles of clothing, an announcer grimly, and repeatedly, intoned: “The problem with buttons is they always fall off!”
With times being tough, it would be dumb to pay a professional to do something I should be able to do. So, I decided to re-anchor the button myself, using one of those tiny sewing kits you get at some hotels. Although I had never used a needle and thread before, I was acquainted with the basics. You thread the needle, tie a knot in one end of the thread, and then insert the needle in and through the fabric, pulling the thread through and working through each of the the four holes in the button until it is snug against the garment. Fortunately, the needle was already threaded, and I didn’t stab myself in the thumb more than once or twice. Admittedly, it’s not a professional looking job, but the button is back on and functional. And when my sewing exercise was done, I felt a pleasant sense of accomplishment.
As I was moving the needle back and forth, I idly wondered what I had missed by not taking home economics during high school. In my school, that really wasn’t an option. Boys took shop, girls took home ec. These days, though, being able to cook and create and repair clothing seems a heck of a lot more useful that being able to create a candlestick on any lathe that might be nearby.