Elephant Pants

Elephant Pants

It started as a joke. Then it became much more. No, actually it’s still a joke.  

Last January, Yvonne, her sister Maria, and I took a trip to Southeast Asia. We had never thought about going there, but a friend told us we would love it.

So Yvonne, travel agent extraordinaire, did some research, and the next thing I knew, we were on our way to Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. 

The trip was fantastic—exotic, enlightening, sobering—but that’s not what I’m writing about. 

I’m writing about pants. 

The first time I noticed them was in Chiang Mai, Thailand: pants with pictures of elephants. They were made of soft, light cotton, with elastic around the waist and ankles, and they looked incredibly comfortable. Locals wore them, and so did tourists—anyone, really, who wanted to look and feel cool. 

“You should buy some,” Maria told me.
“Not my thing,” I said. “They’re silly.”
She grinned. “I’ll do it if you do it.”
I glanced at Yvonne. To her credit, she wanted no part of it.
“They’re a waste of money,” I told Maria.
“They’re two dollars,” she said.
Incredibly, it was true. A dollar per leg.

So, on our last day in Chiang Mai we headed for the shopping district, where racks of elephant pants lined the street—more elephant pants, it appeared, than shoes or ball caps or little plastic geckos. 

We picked out a bunch of pants—twelve dollars, tops—and took them back to the hotel. We were with a group, and for our farewell dinner that night, everyone (except Yvonne, of course) wore elephant pants. How did we look? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

When we returned from Southeast Asia, I started wearing a pair of them around the house. I had bought three pairs, so I sent one to our daughter Maggie, which left a pair for some lucky person. 

One name leaped to mind: Mike Starbird. 

I’m not sure how to describe Mike, except to say he was a perfect candidate for elephant pants. I sent them, and he texted back a photo of himself wearing the pants. Mike reports that he may never remove them. 

Which is a good thing, because we were told they fall apart in the wash.


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