I don’t know how many times I have thought something was cool and fashionable only to find out later that there really was nothing cool or fashionable about it. I could travel back into my past and discuss the use of purple Toughskin jeans or getting my hair permed, but those were mistakes of an undeveloped brain and excusable. (Well, there really isn’t an excuse for getting my hair permed and then deciding it looked better if I didn’t comb it.)
As I get older I am less concerned with fashion or trying to fit in and that is the only excuse I can come up with for purchasing and wearing travel pants. You no doubt have seen this variety of pants: lots of pockets, zip off pant legs, and usually some puke-like color. Well, I saw some travel pants at REI several years ago and decided that I must have them. I imagined myself tramping around the world with my handy pants ready for any weather that I might face. For some reason, I thought I would look competent and worldly if I had a pair of travel pants. Little did I realize that travel pants actually send out the opposite message to the world: Here is a person who can’t even figure out if he needs shorts or pants today.
Other than looking like a dork, travel pants are really handy. Mine had a great little security pocket with a Velcro flap and a hidden zipper that was just big enough to fit a couple credit cards and a travel pass. Now if I had been traveling in Africa I would have just needed a Safari hat and rifle and I would have looked like some great white hunter, but I wasn’t in Africa, I was in Paris where I looked like an American tourist who dressed for the wrong Hemingway novel.
I was not completely oblivious to my dorkaliciousness, I realized that I looked like a large child whose parent’s dressed him for the day but I didn’t really care. I was in Paris by myself, staying in a hotel room about the size of an American elevator so I tried to spend my time outside wandering the streets. Unfortunately it was August, and believe it or not, August is the rainiest month in Paris, so I spent a good deal of time walking in the rain like Gene Kelly. That is if Gene Kelly wore travel pants.
I decided one day that I should go out to La Defense since I had not been out there before and because Matt Damon went there in one of the Bourne movies. I am not completely obsessed with being a spy, it just seems that way to everyone who knows me. Anyway, I took a Metro train packed with business people out to my destination and then proceeded to wander around aimlessly: I am a master of wandering, both purposeful and accidental.
I had some coffee, bought an English language newspaper, watched people and wondered how long it would take me to walk all the way back to my hotel. The sky looked clear, it was still early and I had nothing else on my list of things to do, so I started walking back toward my hotel and this is when things started to go wrong.