THE zip on my trousers has broken.
At the airport.
At the airport, in the lavatory. Hardly worth adding really, because I’m not in the habit of fiddling with my fly in broad daylight in an airport departure lounge.
Zips are a Good Thing. I’m a big admirer of zips, but not on trousers. They weren’t so bad when they were metal. Now they’re plastic they’re hopeless. I thought the faithful old button did an admiral job. When one fell off, the damage was limited. So long as you didn’t stoop, no one noticed.
Even Velcro has a more tenacious grip than a zip, although it would probably play havoc with your pubic hairs.
Zips — broken zips — gape. They grin up at you, broken-toothed, like some mad old bag lady.
And you can only stand around in a public lavatory frantically tugging at your trousers for so long without getting arrested.
I don’t even have a newspaper with me, with which to hide my embarrassment as I sidle furtively through checkout. And certainly not a safety pin, which are only carried by men who carry purses, which I don’t.
Besides, it’s almost impossible to get a safety pin to hold the two sides together vertically. It wants to swing itself sideways, and stick out, shouting to the world, “I have a tenuous grip on this man’s trousers and if you keep watching it could get very interesting…
“Well… amusing, anyway.”
Then there’s accident factor. How’s it going to look in the emergency ward when I’m trying to explain the injury to a doctor?
I have a paper clip. In the seams of my trouser pocket where bits of wool and five cent coins gather, I have found a paper clip. The human race is nothing if not inventive. A paper clip can be converted into an all-in-one needle and thread, if you’re desperate. But you have to take your trousers off.
I could ask someone to help me but let’s not be ridiculous. So I have locked myself in a cubicle and taken my trousers off.
I am in a men’s lavatory, locked in a cubicle, by myself. There is no need to be self‑conscious in these circumstances. No one can see me.
But in that ubiquitous gap that lurks beneath every public lavatory door in the civilized world, they can see my legs. They might identify me by my socks, or my shoes. I will be forever known as the man who goes to the lavatory and takes his trousers right off!
The rumours will fly thick as flies round a dunny. Why would a man take his trousers right off in the lavatory?
Is he a bad shot?
Has he, perhaps, had an accident?
Yes, you fool. But not that kind of accident!
I shall be the victim of vulgar ribaldry for the rest of my life.
I finally make a reasonably good job of the repair, and squirm into my trousers without ripping them asunder. I hear my name being called, impatiently, for the flight.
I run. A mincing kind of run to prevent my paper clip from unravelling. I dash through the security barrier. It goes off.
“Just step aside here, sir,” says the security officer. He waves his little hand-held terrorist finder up and down me.
Hovering over my groin, where the paperclip is, it scoffs me with an electronic raspberry.
If I’d been wearing a dress this never would have happened.