Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Tailor's Son

We do not just live in the present. We also live in the past. How neat when a song or phrase or even just a word transports us back to a time and place we enjoyed in a year gone by.

Judy and I were watching a rerun of M*A*S*H* the other night. The episode had to do with a practical joke that Hawkeye and BJ pulled on Charles. It was exactly the same joke that my room-mate and I pulled on our other room-mate back at RAF Bentwaters way back in 1969 or so. We were three to a room in the barracks back then.

My two roomies at the time were Seth and Ron. Seth was the son of a tailor and was an absolute whiz at alterations to clothing. He made a few bucks on the side sewing on new stripes at promotion time or adjusting waist or length of uniforms pants. He could also whip up a great suit of civvies from material provided to him. Ron was a fitness fanatic. He worked out at least twice daily and was very careful of what he ate. He would lecture us about fitness and health quite often. And just as often it was a huge relief when he left to go work out at the base gym. Ron's Sunday afternoon workouts would last for hours.

One Sunday Seth was sitting on his bunk after Ron had left for the gym following a particularly stirring diatribe on the evils of fat. A broad grin spread over Seth's face.

"Ut oh Seth. What are you thinking?"

"I think it is time for ol' Ronny to gain some weight!" Seth then went to Ron's closet and got all his uniform pants (7 pair) and his needle and thread. 25 minutes later all of Ron's waist bands were 1/4 inch smaller. Since Seth worked a different shift than Ron, he had time the following morning to make a similar adjustment to Ron's civvies.

The following Sunday and Monday another quarter of an inch disappeared. By now Ron was noticing something awry. On Saturday afternoons we would generally split and share a large pizza from the NCO club. For the first time Ron passed on the pizza. By the time and inch had been removed Ron was skipping breakfast and spending a bit longer at the gym.

After and inch and a half was gone Seth decided to reward Ron's new diet and work out efforts and a quarter of an inch reappeared. For the next six weeks all those lost partial inches were regained and Ron was smiling again.

The problem was that now the pants were going in the other direction and not stopping. The pants were gradually getting baggier and looser. Ron was a little less in a hurry to go work out. And he actually bought and extra pizza one week and ate the whole thing himself. Snacks between meals became the order of the day.

Seth waited a few more weeks and then redirected the waist lines until they were all back where they had started. Ron never suspected a thing.

A few weeks after the conclusion of the magical waist line gag, we were again sitting in the barracks on a Sunday afternoon. Off Ron went to the gym. Seth was just sitting there reading a book when he burst out in laughter and fell out of his chair.

"What is so funny Seth? Something in the book?"

"Nope." He got up and headed for Ron's closet.

"Ut oh!"

"Yep", he said. "It's time for Ron to get taller!"

A year later Seth headed back across the pond to get his discharge and, presumably, take over his father's tailor shop. Ron and I shook his hand as he departed and waved good-bye to a good and wonderful room-mate. As we walked back to the barracks Ron said, "I sure will miss him when I need some stripes sewed on or something. He was a whiz with a needle."

To this day Ron has no idea how true that statement was.

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