amaze magazine :: winter 2005

with judy gruen

If the Pants Fit, Keep It Zipped


Sometimes, even the best-trained husbands are capable of colossal judgment errors. Just last week, mine sauntered over to the dinner table sporting a haberdashing pair of elegant black slacks and snazzy shirt and tie.

“Look!” he announced. “My wedding pants still fit perfectly. Not bad after seventeen years!” Believe it or not, he even twirled around.

I shook my head sadly.  “We were this close to our eighteenth anniversary,” I said. “Why’d you have to blow it now?” I brooded in my seat, where I wore a comfy garment ingeniously designed with an elastic waistband. It was unarguably a size larger than my wedding dress. Maybe two.

“Does your wedding dress still fit, Mommy?” our daughter asked.

“Certainly,” I said. “The sleeves, anyway.”

Could I actually shoehorn my body back into the wedding dress? My inquiring daughter insisted on knowing, so I was buttonholed in more ways than one.

Even as I began to unwrap the lace and polyester confection from its plastic, I could see the dress had shrunk alarmingly over the years. No doubt this was caused by oxygen deprivation. What else could I expect? It had been sealed off for nearly two decades in a zippered plastic bag, shriveling its very molecules. Really, it was a miracle there was any fabric left at all. I pulled the dress over my head and slid my arms into the armholes, but in a horrid moment of clarity, I realized that my arms, now hoisted aloft, were stuck in that position, as if I were being held up at gunpoint.

Fortunately, I discovered that some of the material was caught on a hook! I released the material, which permitted the dress to fall a few inches and rest on my hip bones. Unfortunately, this was the last outpost, where the rubbery part of me met the unforgiving textile road. Short of ripping a seam (an irresistible temptation) the dress would travel no further. If only I had given the dress more oxygen, it never would have come to this.

A few minutes later, I cracked the door to the dining room a few inches. 

“Okay, now you’ve seen me,” I whispered.

“Open the door!” my daughter demanded. “Why is the dress so short? Why are the shoulders falling off? It doesn’t fit you at all.”







“I don’t remember the neckline being that revealing,” my husband added. 

“Well. . . ” I could hardly speak, since now I was the one dangerously oxygen-deprived. Still, I had managed to zip the dress up only about a quarter of the way up, creating the unintentional cascading effect of the dress neckline.

“It’s much better to see the dress on video,” I said, “even though as we all know the camera adds ten pounds. After dinner we’ll all sit down to watch it.”

“When are you coming back to serve dinner?” a son asked. He wouldn’t notice if I wore an ill-fitting wedding dress, a roll of aluminum foil, or a chicken suit, as long as the hamburgers were on the table.

“Sure thing,” I said, backing away from the doorway quickly and feeling a draft on my back. With relief, I slipped back into something more comfortable. Something with an elastic waistband. 

Back at the table, I observed that fitting into one’s wedding dress decades after the event was highly overrated and typical of the shallow values in our society. “Men can wear dress slacks to any number of occasions and look appropriate,” I reasoned. “But where is a woman going to wear a ten-pound dress with pouffy sleeves other than to her own wedding? To the UPS station? The supermarket? Even if she wore a wedding dress to someone else’s wedding she’d just look deranged.”

“Please pass the potatoes,” asked my husband. I dished out a schooner’s worth of potatoes on his plate, not that it would help. His metabolism runs faster than a marathoner from Kenya; mine is slower than a camel ride across Egypt. In fact, after I’m gone I’m thinking of leaving my metabolism to the National Institutes of Health. Maybe they’ll have better luck with it than I did.

My humiliating reunion with my wedding dress simply reminded me that my training of this husband is far from complete. My next lesson -- given in stealth as all other lessons have been -- will undoubtedly zero in on the unspoken rule that if your wedding pants still fit after 17 years, just keep the information zipped.

about judy gruen

Judy Gruen, also known as "Whatsfadinner?" by her four children, lives in Los Angeles. When not writing or carpooling, Gruen's main occupation is lobbying the federal government to create a Division of Cellulite Studies at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Gruen's first book, Carpool Tunnel Syndrome: Motherhood as Shuttle Diplomacy, catapulted her from complete literary obscurity to only partial literary obscurity.Her latest book is, Till We Eat Again: Confessions of a Diet Dropout. Read more of her columns on

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