Green Pants

Glenn Dykstra

Joey O’Leary, an Irish boy, lived in a very small town with his mother, father and two younger sisters. He was born many years ago, even before the invention of the computer, maybe as much as twenty years ago.

Joey’s father was a school teacher and his mother, most of the time was a homemaker, though she did sell cosmetics from their home, to earn a little extra money.

School was starting in just a few days, and it was customary for the O’Leary children to get a new set of clothing each year, so they would look well dressed on the first day of school.

Joey’s little town had no clothing store, no bank, no restaurant, or even a swimming pool. The only store in the village was a small grocery store, a post office, a gas station and a barber shop.

It was Saturday, the last free weekend of the summer, and mother said that it was the dreaded day of school shopping. Beth and Carole, the two younger sisters were up early, happy as a couple of larks, as they giggled and chattered over breakfast, anticipating the “day of glory and excitement” in the big city mall.

Joey, on the other hand, was not that enthusiastic. He wanted to stay home and ride his bicycle, throw rocks in the pond, or do anything but go shopping. He finally agreed to go, however, after his father gave him a talking to. It seemed for ever, but thirty minutes later, mom, Carole, Beth and Joey were in the big town, entering the huge shopping mall.

Following the girls around in the shopping center was sheer torture for Joey. He was tired and crabby. He wanted to sit down, but he couldn’t. He wanted to go to the sporting goods store but he wasn’t allowed. He wanted a new baseball, but mother wouldn’t hear of it. All he could do is follow and watch the girls as they tried on new

Finally, after what seemed like hours, mother and the kids approached a boy’s store. With little enthusiasm, Joey tried on a new shirt, new shoes, new underwear, and a pair of green pants. He didn’t like the shirt much. He didn’t like the shoes much. He didn’t like the underwear much, but he did like the green pants. Joey said, “If I ever get out of this mall alive, I’m going to wear these green pants for ever.

School started the following Monday, and Joey put on his new green pants. All the other kids had new clothes too, but his green pants, in Joey’s mind, was the most handsome of all. He continued to wear his green pants every day. Even when they were dirty, he would insist that they be washed and ready, so he could wear them the next day. Mother looked at him kind of funny every morning at breakfast, but said, “Well, as long as your pants are clean, I guess it’s OK.
Months went by, and soon the school year was about over. Joey still liked his green pants, but a small problem had occurred. He had grown over two inches in the last year, and his green pants were not growing with him. Joey was now ten years old.

One day, mother asked Joey to go to the grocery store to pick up some things for supper. She told Joey, “Here is some money. Run to the store and pick up some hamburger, some tomato sauce, and some noodles. We’re going to have spaghetti tonight.”

She also said, “And Joey, don’t let me see you in those green pants anymore. They’re too small for you and they’re looking thin in knees. Don’t you dare go to the store looking like that.”

Joey went to the store alright, but he ignored what his mother told him about his green pants. He jumped on his bicycle and quickly peddled down the street to the grocery store. He was really hungry, especially for spaghetti. It was his favorite dish.

Entering the store, Mr. Jenkins, the store keeper, said, “Hello Joey. How are you today?” Joey said, “Fine, Mr. Jenkins. Here’s my mothers list of stuff that she needs.”

Mr. Jenkins read over the list with one eye, and looked at Joey with the other. With a slight laughter in his voice, he asked, “Aren’t those the same green pants that you wore last year, and last week, and yesterday?”

Two little girls in the store started giggling, pointed at Joey and said, “Yes, Joey, aren’t those the same green pants you wore all year in school?” They teased..

Joey didn’t say anything, just picked up his groceries, hopped on his bicycle and headed home. A few minutes later he was in the kitchen placing the heavy sack on the table. His mother took one look at him and raised her finger in the air.

“I thought I told you not to wear those green pants to the store,” she raged. “You disobeyed me. 5ow you are going to bed without your supper. And I do not want to see you in those green pants again.” She was one mad mother.

The next morning, Joey’s father felt sorry for him. It was Saturday, and he told Joey that he had a good idea.

“Joey,” father said, “let’s go fishing and take those green pants along. We’ll get rid of them once and for all.”

And so they drove down to the river with their fishing poles and sat on the riverbank. It was a beautiful day. “Here’s my idea,” he said. “let’s put a couple of plastic half gallon milk jugs, one in each leg of those green pants, and float them down the river. Maybe we could put a note in one of the jugs, so whomever found them, would know that they were your favorite pants. You could put your name and address on the note, and possibly you could hear from them someday.”

Joey thought that it was a terrific idea, and so they did just that. The green pants floated away, just like father said they would. Joey said, “goodbye green pants.”

The green pants floated down the river for weeks. In days to come, the river current took the floating green pants into the Missouri, and then into the Mississippi. Finally, the slow moving Mississippi carried them all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

One day, much later, a Mexican boy and his father were fishing in a small boat off the shore of the Yucatan, near Cancun. They were very poor and had little to eat, only one banana. They had fished all day, but had not caught anything that they could eat. Pablo, the little boy, spotted something bobbing in the waves.

“Look father,” Pablo said. “Let’s snag that green thing to see what it is.” Pablo tossed his hook and line over to the floating object, hooked it and reeled it over to the boat.

“Look father,” Pablo said. It’s a pair of green pants. They’re just what I’ve always wanted.” And to Pablo’s surprise, two large fish that were living in the pants, fell into the boat as he pulled the pants from the water. Pablo’s father dried out the pants for a few hours, and when they were ready, Pablo tried them on. They were perfect. Then they discovered the note in one of the jugs that had Joey’s name and address plainly written on a piece of white paper.

Pablo’s father was excited. 5ot only did they find a pair of green pants, but also caught two fish for supper. “It’s a miracle,” Pablo’s father said.

When Pablo got home, he immediately wrote a letter to Joey, stating that he had found the green pants in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon Pablo and Joey were writing letters to each  ther every week. They became good friends.

Many year later, Joey and Pablo met at the University of Kansas. Pablo came to America as an exchange student and graduated with a doctor’s degree in medicine. Joey wanted to be a science teacher and a basketball coach, so he graduated with a teaching degree.

Pablo went back to Mexico, and is a doctor. Joey is a teacher and a basketball coach in a small town in Missouri. Both call each other by telephone and now, a new invention, called email, and are life-long friends. And it was all because of a pair of green pants.

Life is a puzzle, ain’t it.


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