Just the Other Day: Tags

It was about four years ago, after aunt Di painted her bedroom, that I installed new bi-fold doors on her closet. A couple days later I stopped by to help move her mattresses back into the bedroom. We also moved some dressers and such, reassembled the bed, then put the bedroom door back on its hinges.

When we were done, Di began pulling the tag off her mattress. “What are you thinking?” I asked. “If you remove that tag, I’m going to have to call 9-1-1. The police will come to take you away and you’ll spend the next 20 years to life in the Lake County Pokey! Removing a mattress tag! What’s the matter with you?”

She left the tag on the mattress and we adjourned to the dining room where we enjoyed conversation over a cup of coffee and some fresh baked chocolate fudge brownies with walnuts.

It was about that same period of time when I bought a new pair of blue jeans at Old Navy in Duluth.  I still wear them today. They’re very comfortable jeans but they do have an issue – the tag. Well, I don’t have an issue with the tag, but my wife sure does! She’s been fighting that tag for over four years!

Admittedly, the design of the tag is rather odd. Most jeans, shirts and other apparel have a tag measuring about one-inch square. The tag tells the size and gives some simple, yet valuable information – like how to wash and dry the article of clothing.

Cleaning instructions are very important – especially for men who historically/stereotypically have trouble with the laundry process. I suppose such difficulties could be the reason Old Navy decided these jeans should have a tag that measures one and a quarter inches wide by two and a half inches long.  But a tag that big also causes trouble. The tag is stitched into the waistband of the jeans, which is one and a half inches tall.

When you consider the manner in which a man puts on his jeans (one leg at a time, then pulls them upward) you would think the tag would naturally slide down inside his britches. But not this tag. It magically works its way up, protruding above the waistband. Countless times we’ve been at a public event or visiting friends when Melissa whispers in my ear, “Your tag is out.” It’s almost as embarrassing as being told, “Your barn door is open.” I nonchalantly tuck it back into my pants…only to have it work its way back out again.

My wife is a wonderful photographer. I can’t even tell you how many times she takes a photo where everyone is looking forward and no one is blinking – even the dog and the cat cooperated for the photo. Then she reviews the photo on that little screen on her camera; “Tom! Your tag is sticking out!” Of course, it usually happens when I am wearing a dark colored shirt, so the shiny white, silk tag that reflects light, really stands out.

She’s told me over and over again, “Just cut the tag off!” But I’ll be darned if I’m going to jail for illegal tag removal just so she can get a great photo.

The other day in the living room, she told me my tag was out. I tucked it in and a few minutes later she told me it was out again so I tucked it in again. This went on repeatedly. “Enough!” I said.  It was time to take matters into my own hands.

I went to the kitchen and got the scissors from the junk drawer. I unfastened my belt, dropped my trousers and grabbed that stupid tag. I was a rebel out of control.

I had to cut carefully as to not accidentally cut out the stitches in the waistband. But at the same time, I wanted to remove all evidence of a tag. I mean, what if I get arrested some day and sent to jail? What if the person handing me my orange jumpsuit takes my jeans, see the stub of white fabric and calls me out for the crime?  “HEY! What happened to the tag in your jeans?”  The next thing you know, a S.W.A.T team shows up at my house. I mean, any man who would cut the tag from his jeans…

They’d smash in the front door with a battering ram. Men in black military garb with helmets and face shields would rush though the house, throwing bedding off to the side in each bedroom. A tactical member from the master bedroom yells, “Clear.” Another from the guest bedroom calls, “Clear.” A third member pulls out the hide-a-bed in the three-seasons room, sees the tag intact and calls “All clear.”

Meanwhile, Melissa, being interrogated in the living room, swears to the officer, “I told him not to cut the tag out of those jeans!” My dog June, and cat Edgar, nod their heads vouching for the validity of her story.  Right under the bus I would go. Yes, I needed to be very careful.

I cut across the very top of the tag in my pants – just above the dotted line.  I held the executed tag in my hand, closely examining it. There was an image of a pair of scissors between the dashes in the line. “Hmm. I wonder what that’s for?” I muttered softly.

In my own defense I will say, they should have just written “cut along dotted line” if they wanted the tag removed. How was I supposed to know what a picture of scissors between dashes means? Can we please stop using pictures and just say what we mean? Also, in my defense, it was on a tag with cleaning instructions! You know how men are about reading instructions.

Well, I put those jeans on this morning and looked in the mirror and what should I see? Like a villain in a scary horror movie that keeps coming back to life after repeatedly being killed, the tag was sticking up again!

It turns out there were tags on both sides of the jeans. A second tag on the right indicates the jeans are size 34X32 in the United States. Apparently, they are also 34X32 in Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, and it was necessary to attach another tag so we would know. “There’s too many tags.” I complained.

I thought back on that day when I stopped my aunt Di from cutting the tag off her mattress. Maybe I was too harsh on her. I didn’t actually read her mattress tag. I wonder if they still say you cannot remove them without subjecting yourself to imprisonment. I wonder if she went back into the bedroom and pulled the tag off after I left. I wonder if she needs my help with anything else? But mostly, I wonder if she has any more of those fresh baked chocolate fudge brownies with walnuts?