Last night I had a very good Italian meal. Some fine ravioli for an appetizer, a veal entree, a little wine, and a cup of black coffee. In a nod to notions of physical fitness, I even skipped dessert and walked a number of blocks from the restaurant back to my hotel.
Yet, when I returned to my room, I popped a button on my trousers — and all illusions of trim physical fitness vanished.
Let’s face it. Popping a button on your pants is a tangible, irrefutable demonstration that you need to hit the gym, and hit it hard. It tells you that pants that fit properly once really don’t fit any longer.
The humble button will remain comfortably attached to its binding threads, happy to permanently serve its designated function of keeping items of apparel attached. Buttons become uncomfortable and call attention to themselves only when they are put under enormous tensile strain by expanding human girth. They feel their threads loosening with growing trepidation. The final snap and pop is a button’s last, desperate bid to get the pants wearer to pay attention to the truth about his personal circumstances.
Sigh. A button is telling me it’s time to think about a workout regimen.
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.