In yet another cosmetic attempt to persuade myself of my vitality, I threw caution to the wind and hit “Place Your Order.” Less than a week later, my T-shirt arrived in the mail (no skulls this time — those are for kids). I took a deep breath, let it out, then donned the shirt. Wonder of wonders, it fit! I'm still a “Medium”!
Or am I? I'll admit the shirt is a little tighter around the middle than I'd like, but there's still room to move, if not grow. In terms of fit, it's not unseemly for me to wear the shirt. But the fact of the matter is this is the winter I “hit the deuce” and nudged the scale's meter over the 200 lbs mark. And yet I'm wearing jeans with a 34-inch waistline. I had a 34-inch waistline when I got married 15 years — and 50 lbs — ago. What's going on here?
Following a hunch, I went to the basement and foraged through our collection of paint rags. At the very bottom lay my old Hendrix shirt — a “Medium” I'd purchased and worn 20 years ago. I laid it over top of my new shirt, and sure enough, “Medium” has indeed been super-sized into a “Large.” Ditto, with a ragged pair of blue jeans: no matter how I sucked in my gut, the button would not close. The label on the jeans might lie, but the tape measure does not: my waistline is 40 inches, end of story.
I mentioned this experiment to my wife (who remains lithe enough to fit into her wedding dress). She told me about some clothes she'd purchased online from a US outfit a year ago. She'd used her correct measurements, but when the clothes arrived and she put them on, she found she was swimming in them. “If the clothes are being manufactured for North Americans, they're being made much larger than the label admits,” said she.
This is a trend that I find vexing, and not a little depressing. Vexing because the next time I order a T-shirt in “Medium” I just might get what I asked for (in which case I'll have to persuade one of my daughters to wear it). And depressing because ... well, geez: I'm a 43 year old male with a 40 inch waistline. Do you really think I can't handle the truth?
Then again, I did order a rock 'n' roll T-shirt....