Plumber Pants

A number of years ago state legislatures passed laws that said, “If you’re going to be a plumber, you have to have to wear plumber pants, namely, pants that either stretch or droop or scoot or scooch down several inches, maybe as much as three-quarters of a foot, below your waistline in the back when you bend over or stand up suddenly from a seated position.”

These soon became known as the “Don’t Look, Ethel” laws thanks to Ray Stevenson’s song, “The Streak.” Remember the part that goes, This is your action news reporter once again, and we’re on the scene at the kitchen sink. Sir, did you see what happened?…Yeah, I did. I looked in there and Ethel was gettin’ her a cold drink. I hollered, “Don’t look, Ethel!”but it was too late. Ethel had already been mooned. Ethel and millions of other homemakers.

It seems as though there are always unintended consequences of laws, no matter how good the original intent. The “Don’t Look Ethel” laws almost overnight brought uniformity to the Plumber Dress Code, but over the years these laws have resulted in a skyrocketing demand for plumber pants. Just as you don’t have to jump out of a plane to wear parachute pants, you don’t have to unclog a drain to wear plumber pants. They are now turning up, or more accurately, working their way down, almost everywhere.

Both men and women are wearing these pants. Factories from Hanglow, China to Rearinsk, Russia to Butteocks, Montana are working overtime to keep up with the demand. You can see people wearing them anywhere that people stand and bend over, or kneel and bend over, or sit and bend over. Just hang around an airport gate. As people await their flight they sit on the floor or pick up their carryon bags or drape themselves over the chairs. If the flight doesn’t make you lose your lunch, the sight as you wait at the gate will have already done the job.

I don’t mean to be a rump grump, but America needs to have a discussion. One of the first things that visitors from other countries see when flying into the USA, and one of the last things they see when flying home, shouldn’t be seen in public. “Blimey, it’s a hynie!” If we don’t want to be the butt of the world’s jokes, we need to adopt a dress code, one that bans plumber pants.

And I don’t say this lightly. I endure without complaint several styles of dress. For example, there must be an extremely tall and thin professional basketball player who has a line of Tee-shirts. I say this because in my neighborhood there are young men, high school age and above, still thin and not nearly as tall as a pro basketball player, who wear these shirts tucked into their pants. What’s interesting about this is that they wear their pants and belt around their knees. I don’t see how they walk, but they do. I am okay with these guys. It’s hard for them to bend over without falling over. They can dress like that if they want.

Or if not a dress code, America ought to ban bending over or sitting down. That would take care of the problem, but I don’t expect such an idea to catch on in a country whose national pastime is baseball. The catcher behind the plate, and the umpire behind the catcher, need to bend over at times. Thank God that plumber pants haven’t caught on with them yet. But given professional sports’ goal of increased revenues at decreased costs, bargains on plumber pants will catch on sooner or later.

I don’t know what, but something has to be done to take the focus off the tokus. Every few seconds Americans hear the report, This is your action news reporter once again, and unfortunately we’re on the scene of yet another random mooning.


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