I am on the phone with Melanie, a customer affairs specialist for Levi Strauss & Co.
Me: I would like to discuss your product and its magical, mystical slimming powers for the restorative rejuvenation of the male physique.
Melanie: All right!
Me: Are you able to discuss these magical powers, or are they proprietary — a trade secret, like the formula behind the nooks and crannies in Thomas’ English Muffins?
Melanie: I am free to discuss anything relating to the product and how it fits. We value our quality and put a lot of effort into every single pair!
Me: Swell. When I first started wearing Levi’s, I was 25 years old, and wore a size 34 waist. Now, I am 60, and have thickened like the plot of a bad whodunit. I am basically shaped like Huckleberry Hound — not big-waisted so much as waistless, an amorphous quasi-cylinder of goo. I have gained 20 pounds, yet I STILL wear a size 34 waist in Levi’s jeans! When I am wearing your product, I am apparently the svelte young man I was at 25, with a tight 34-inch waist, though my my kazoo-like voice unfortunately has not changed. Are you still with me, Melanie?
Me: For some reason, though, when I buy dress pants from other companies, I find I need a 36-inch waist. So I tried 36-inch Levi’s, but they were so loose that when I walked across the room, my pants slowly fell down to my ankles, unassisted. I performed this act several times for my family, to their profound amusement. So, now I’m back to my size 34 Levi’s, and feeling young and manly again. Can you explain, scientifically how Levi’s accomplishes this?
Me: Now, everyone knows that ladies’ sizes have changed over the years in deference to the frail vanities of the fairer, weaker sex, whose sensibilities presumably would be shattered if they were forced to confront the fact that they might have gained a pound or two since the time they starved themselves for an entire year so they could squeeze into a sequined white dress that would fit exactly one day in their lives, after the first but prior to the second helping of hors d’oeuvres. Women are like that, and we love and cherish them for it, and the dress industry has accommodated them with a patently fraudulent — and arguably patronizing — size-deflation system. Over the last 20 years, my wife has gone from a size 4 dress to a size 0 dress, without having lost a pound.
Melanie: I do know that is happening, yes.
Me: In women’s clothing.
Me: Yet we both know this cannot possibly be the case with Levi’s, since men, being men, are completely without vanity. We both know that Levi Strauss would never insult men in this preposterous, emasculating way.
Me: My editor, Tom the Butcher, has an even more amazing story of the restorative, slimming rejuvenating powers of Levi’s jeans. Though middle-aged like me, Tom plays tennis and eats more nutritious foods than I do — he is an ardent proselytizer for a healthy lifestyle, so much so that I have considered jamming an umbrella up his wazoo, opening it (the umbrella), and hanging his slim and muscular middle-aged body by the handle from a chandelier. But my point is, though Tom has not gained or lost a pound in the last 20 years, he reports that he has recently gone from size 32 to size 31 waist in Levi’s jeans. He got skinnier! How can we explain this amazing phenomenon?
Me: I am taking my pants off now, Melanie.
Melanie: Oh, my.
Me: Please remain calm. I think you know what is about to happen.
Me: I am applying a tape measure to the allegedly 34-inch waist. And the measurement is actually . . . hang on a second . . . 36 and a half inches.
Me: Maybe my tape measure is broken.