I Accidentally Went Around With My Pants Inside Out And No One Said A Thing

by Colleen Dilthey Thomas
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Getting dressed in the dark is never a good idea, particularly when you’re grabbing for black and your eyes are getting old. At 42, my eyes are old and so, apparently, is my desire to follow house rules. We have very few, but the ones I have I stand by. One being your clothing must be turned right side out or they’re coming back folded inside out. Four kids equals no time for that shit. Of course, I found out the hard way that I don’t follow my own rules.

I was in a hurry. I am always in a hurry. Most days, I drop my kids off in my nightgown. But this particular morning I had to get dressed because I had lots of errands to run and didn’t have time to go back and forth. My husband sleeps in, so I try not to disturb him with a lot of light. So I ran into the closet, found the shelf where I keep my yoga pants (please don’t get confused, there is no actual yoga being done in these pants) and a shirt, and threw them on. I headed down to make breakfast.

Remember I have four kids, right? I talked to all of them that morning. I went back and forth from the family room and kitchen 75 times and they watched me coming and going. When it was time to head out, there were kids behind and kids in front. They looked right at me. All of them. Several times. Let’s keep that in mind.


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I dropped the boys at school and headed to take my daughter to her preschool. Then, I got out of the car, walked her to the door, said hello to the teacher and walked away. I then walked away with my back to them, you know, how normal people walk. That was two more people. We’re up to six now.

Next, I went to Target. I had a list, but it was long, so I took my time. I was feeling friendly that morning. And since you can’t see a smile through a mask, I was saying hello to strangers. They said hello back, nice and pleasantly. Some came toward me from the front, others passed me from the back. Let’s think about those folks, shall we? I mean, we try not to, but if someone is in front of you, you notice their butt. It’s just how it works. I would say at least a dozen people gazed at my ass at Target as they passed me. I have no idea how many others were just hanging in the aisles and caught a glance. But I have to imagine there were several, employees and patrons alike. Lots of people.

Next stop, Sam’s Club. They check you in at the door there. One person I spoke to for sure. I had to tinkle when I walked in, so I headed to the bathroom to do my business. As I was washing my hands I gave myself a once over. Looking pretty good, if I do say so myself. Well, you know, other than the fact that my pants were inside out! Oh for shit’s sake! Here we go again…..Another humiliating day on the street for Colleen.

I stood there for a moment and contemplated going back into that stall to change and thought, fuck it! I’m going to see how long it takes for someone to notice. I marched out there with a size 10/12 displayed proudly on my ass and the exposed seams. Now it was a social experiment. Who was going to tell me? Spoiler alert, not a single person!


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I decided to be extra friendly; making small talk with every person I met. Even if they didn’t notice the back, how about the giant inside out inner seams sticking out? You didn’t notice those either? I call bullshit. And you know why? Because I totally noticed the guy in front of me at the cave we explored that had his shirt on inside out, but I didn’t tell him because he pushed my mother to get in first. So, fuck him, he can be humiliated for all I care. But an overworked haggard mother? I know you noticed, throw me a bone!

Why do we feel embarrassed to tell people when they’re experiencing a wardrobe malfunction? Like, is this the Bystander Effect? You know, when someone is being mugged in front of you and do nothing? I flash my size to the whole store and you are afraid to get involved. Surely no one would be offended if you pointed that out, right? Embarrassed maybe, but pissed, no way.

I went home with my pants as they had been all day and asked my husband if he liked them. So, I said they were new, but I wasn’t sure of the fit. I did a twirl, conscientiously stopping for him to look at the back. Nothing! Not a word. Now I’ll blame the fact that he doesn’t give a shit and will say I look great in anything without looking because as he says, “I’m damned if I do damned if I don’t here.” But even when I pointed it out, he just laughed. Just like I know all of those people did behind my back!

Look, I have very little shame, that died when my mother accidentally posted a picture of me on Facebook minutes after I gave birth to my son and I was in the background of a shot of the baby in nothing but a sports bra, looking as if I had died during childbirth with my eyes closed and mouth wide open. You can’t really shock anyone after that. I’ve been to therapy, I’m fine. But there are other people out there who want to know their tag is out. I just know it.

I promise, if I see you with a pair of underwear stuck to the back of your t-shirt with the strongest static cling there is, I’m telling you. Never again will I let a tag go untucked. And I vow to point out an inside out shirt to every man I see. Unless you’re a senior citizen pushing asshole, because still, fuck you.