Hardly ever does any good news come out of a study… at least nothing to your advantage.

The odds are stacked. And mostly against you too.

Call it whatever you might: “research”, “in-depth examination”, “statistical analysis”, “undercover investigation”, “scientific scrutiny”, etc. The naked truth is that the only winners in ‘snooping around” are the government, the authorities –or someone else who is decidedly” not you”. (You will, no doubt, recall that time the IRS “wished to study” your tax returns.)

It can be hazardous to even be informed of the results of a study. Now you become privy to information that you did not want or need to know—changing forever, life  and the universe as you knew it. Take a most recent episode…

A few days ago, someone got the bright idea to study men’s pants. This is a red flag if I ever saw one (I don’t know what gets into people. Anytime a party of the first part goes poking through the pants of a party of the second part, disaster is being courted and danger lurks close by.)

Anyway, it’s Katie Couric who reports the story on her TV network’s evening news.

It seems that the party of the first part is on—he says—“a mission from God” to saunter into a men’s clothing store in Manhattan–tape measure in hand–and verify the waist sizes on men’s pants. The ‘idea’ is to see if pants labeled’ 36 ‘truly measure 36”; if ’38’ measures 38”, etc.

As I listen to the woman on television describe this caper, two thoughts come to mind. The first is “Why would a guy even think to do such a thing?” (On page 27 of the Handy-Dandy Universal Male Testosterone Guide, it says that the centuries old, authorized practice in answering such queries is “… just take the ‘party of the second part’s’ word for it and get on about your business…”). The second thought is since apparently anyone can meander in, unannounced, unfettered and engage in such kind of mischief, then your average, garden variety Manhattan men’s pants emporium most assuredly has a security apparatus that is terribly lacking.

In any event, as you might expect, the outcome of the proceedings is not a good one. (I warned you.)

The study shows that manufacturers of men’s pants have been lying to us the whole time.

The chart below shows the findings[1]:

Party of the Second

Part                             Label                                          Actual

Alfani                            36”                                            38.5”

GAP                              36”                                            39”

Haggar                          36”                                             39”

Dockers                        36”                                              39”

Old Navy                      36”                                             41”

It’s the very last segment of the newscast and at the end of the story Katie looks right at me, smirks and says that this whole ruse is called ‘vanity sizing’. “Furthermore”, she says “women have had to deal with it for ages… Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow”. Couric exits stage left but you can see her laughing—presumably at men …and giggling into her hand the whole time that she’s walking off stage.

Obviously this vanity sizing business has been going on for a while and without the knowledge of men. I’m taken aback…outraged at the deception and the fact that women have been keeping all of this information from us–and for all this time.

It is an elegant caper and deception that has been pulled off.

After I compose myself, I decide to approach the first female that I can find. Surely not all of the information that Katie Couric reports can be true. Can it?

“What are you upset about today, Cantrell?” asks my forty-somethingish neighbor Cici. She’s trimming the hedgerow between our yards. The air smells of freshly cut boxwoods.

“I’ve just learned that my pants have been lyin’ to me.”


I explain to the neighbor woman about studies and pants and all—and how this means that men are really fatter than we’ve preciously been led to believe.

“What are you complaining about? Women have been going through this for years.”

“That’s what I hear, Cici.  Katie said that women have known about vanity sizing all along. We’ve been duped.”

“Well, I must say that we’ve known about it for awhile. Who the hell wants to buy a size ten when they can buy a label that says eight? It’d be just like payin’ full price for something when you can get it wholesale. Who needs that? Even you can understand that, Cantrell.”

“So let me get this straight. This means that if your dress size says that you’re a ten, you’re really a twel…”

“Stop it, Will. Don’t go there. Stop it right now.”


“But nothin’, I’ve already told you too much. You’re gonna get me in trouble. We’re all sisters beneath the skin you know. ”

“But we had no idea. Y’all coulda told us. Why didn’t you tell us?”


“Men! Us…us…us men.”

“What good would it do? You guys wouldn’t have listened anyway. You never do. You’d rather hear it from someone else …like Katie”, she says derisively, obviously  resentful that Ms. Couric has told …well, secrets.

“When have we not listened?”

“You guys never listen. We’ve been trying to get you to stop leaving the toilet seat up since the dawn of man. And I do mean the dawn of m-a-n!”

“Hmmnnn. So what else have you people been keepin’ from us? Come on, fess up. For instance, is it true that women’s bathrooms really look like the Taj Mahal on the inside? That’s the rumor you know. Ours are like cesspools. It’s a wonder we even use’em at all. Just what else are you people hiding from us? Come on. Tell me.”


“Come on, just tell me one more thing.”


“Oh, come on.”

“Nope. You’ll  just have to ask that hussy, Katie. You guys think that she knows so damn much. I can’t believe she did that.  Bitch.”


“Well she was the one who told!”

“I bet that someday we’re going to learn that you women have weighing scales in those ornate Taj Mahal bathrooms and that the scale is set so that there are 19 ounces in a pound. I’ll just bet…”

“Shhhhhish…hush your mouth, Cantrell! Not so loud. Someone might overhear you.”

Before either of us can say anything else, her cell phone blurts out what can best be described as a loud, noxious and interminable rap concerto–“Jay-Z in G Minor” perhaps. Someone’s calling.  I try to ask another question but Cici ignores me and  holds up her hand as if to say, “Stop! Can’t you see that I’m on the phone talking to Jay-Z, you idiot?”

Before I can assert that I am not an idiot, Cici is off and on her way inside her house. I am left to ponder what Cici and Jay-Z are talking about, what else women are keeping from us, why my trousers have been lying to me all this time…

… and vowing to be very wary of studies… and guys snooping around my pants.

© Copyright 2010 Will Cantrell

[1] 2010 Study conducted by Abram Sauer, Esquire Magazine.

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell

Will Cantrell (a pseudonym) is a writer, storyteller, and explorer of the milieu of everyday life. An aging Baby Boomer, a Georgia Tech grad, and a retired banker, Cantrell regularly chronicles what he swears are 'mostly true'  'everyman' adventures. Of late, he's written about haircuts, computer viruses, Polar Vortexes, identity theft, ketchup, doppelgangers, bifocals, ‘Streetification’, cursive handwriting, planning his own funeral and other gnarly things that caused him to scratch his head in an increasingly more and more crazy-ass world.   As for Will himself, the legend is at an early age he wandered South, got lost, and like most other self-respecting males, was loathe to ask for directions. The best solution, young Will mused, “was just to stay put”. All these years later, he still hasn't found his way but remains  a son of the New South. He was recently sighted somewhere close to I-285, lost, bumfuzzled and mumbling something about “...writing' his way home.” Of course, there are a lot of folks who think that “Cantrell ain't wrapped too tight” but hope that he keeps writing about his adventures as he finds his way back to the main highway.