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There’s more of me than there used to be. Not tons more, perhaps, but built low to the ground as I am, it doesn’t take much to make a difference. And not being self-delusional, the building doesn’t have to fall on me to realize the above mentioned fact. What I have been, however, is unconcerned.

The fact that most of the world has become quite laissez-faire about what has jokingly been dubbed the “pandemic 15,” a play on the infamous “freshman 15” of college fame, puts me in pretty good company.

Did I realize I was falling off the wagon? Of course I did!

Did I care? Heck no!

The current mindset has been that with life as we knew it being indefinitely put on hold and the very real threat of death by COVID-19 staring us all in the face, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy what we can while we can.

Remember the whole Titanic thing about having taken a pass on eating a cupcake?

“Take a lesson,” it said, and so I did.

With circumstances beyond my control having robbed me of the warmth of normal family contact as well as blocking me from enjoying most of the social activities that had given pleasure to my life, substituting food only seemed fair.

Another pandemic-related bandwagon I have enthusiastically hopped on has been the widespread acceptance of sweatpants as everyday fashion.

I have been a jeans person pretty much all my life. Other than a couple pairs of basic black slacks hanging in the closet for real dress-up occasions, jeans are what I live in. In fact it was jeans that drove me to join Weight Watchers a few years ago when going up one size more in jeans became a personal bridge too far. My stated goal upon signing up was that I needed to lose just enough weight so my present jeans didn’t hurt anymore.

But much as I like jeans, I have to confess that in my current stay-at-home life, basic black soft, stretchy sweatpants have become my comfy pandemic passion. They love me no matter what, never pinching, never binding, accepting me as I am with nary a hint that there may be a tad more of me than when our relationship began. And they’re warm. What’s not to like?

The problem, however, was that as mentioned in last week’s column, there was no room in my armoire for storing my new collection of sweatpants. Jeans were hogging all the space on the pants shelf.

A few days ago I finally went to work on clearing space, and not just for pants.

Shelf by shelf was methodically emptied. T-shirts were whittled down by two dozen. My turtleneck shirt collection by at least as much. One entire cubby full of socks of every style and description – none of which I am able to wear since breaking my legs three years ago – cleaned out in its entirety. That done, I tackled the jeans.

I knew several pairs on top would be keepers. What needed to go was the lower echelon of the stack, space occupiers that were no longer earning their keep, like the white ones and the unpleasant-feeling khaki ones that were fashion mistakes, or because they were too big.

Remembering the fact that I had gained a few pounds in the last several months, it suddenly occurred to me that it might be prudent to hang onto at least one of the old pairs, to see me through until I was able to slim back down into the newer ones. Standing right there in the middle of the living room (where the armoire has to live), I grabbed a pair and pulled them on.

It wasn’t as bad as that time years ago when I’d been tempted to lie down on the floor of the department store fitting room to let gravity help as I struggled to pull the zipper up in what was a ludicrous – and unsuccessful – attempt at forcing the jeans to my will, but the gap between one side of the waistband and the other still came as something of a surprise.

And so, with the end of the pandemic heading to what we hope is within sight, my diet has (sort of) begun.

Day #1 and the scale registered 124.8 pounds. Day #2 it read 125.2.

Hmm, I seem to be doing something wrong.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.

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