The Pants With No One Inside Them

October 29, 2007

I’m sure you’re familiar with the scene. Clothing discarded, seemingly at random. A shoe in the middle of the road. A shirt, torn and forlorn, left to decay in a school field amongst McDonald’s wrappers and discarded Timmy’s cups. Or, perhaps, a pair of pants with no one inside them, left to intrigue passersby. These left garments beg questions: How does one “lose” a pair of pants? Was it unconscious? Whoops, I lost my pants again. Did the wearer experience a moment of existential crisis wherein the pants were deemed superfluous? These pants impede my existence, therefore they are of no use. Were they simply discarded? Were they thrown from the window of a rusted pickup, the only evidence of a sinister deed? Whenever I see discarded bottoms – especially female bottoms – I feel as though I should call the authorities. A CSI team would then storm the scene and I would watch as my tip produced a suspect. You never know. Someone might be looking for those pants. They may be the last piece. I never call.

And what about that lonely shoe sitting in the middle of the freeway? Were the owner’s feet hanging outside a window when a strong crosswind loosed the runner, leaving the wearer to walk embarrassed with one shoe? Was there a fight in a car, the shoe used as a last-ditch weapon, thrown into a passenger window which shattered? Was someone drinking out of the shoe and threw it out like an empty bottle of Jim Beam? Perhaps most unsettling to me are found children’s shoes – especially in a schoolyard. In my mind, and this may sound deeply twisted / pessimistic, I conjure scenes of a candy offer refused, an arm-flailing struggle, and a violent abduction. Terrible, and again the police should be notified. The truth about kidless shoes is likely much more prosaic: Kids lose shoes all the time. Grade five: Daniel Martin throws my snowboots on the roof of the school. I caught hell for that one.

Once, in the sprawling field beside my childhood home, I came across two pairs of underwear (one pair men’s, one pair women’s), a 36” length of garden hose, and a bottle of glue. An odd combination, and ever since then I’ve been trying to put together a scene in which all those items go together. The underwear and the hose I can see, but the glue? Not really all that kinky, but who knows. Maybe the glue held someone’s hands together. Or maybe there was some old-school glue sniffing happening. Does anyone do that any more?

I hope all the lonely clothing out there gets a home. If nothing else those pieces of textile detritus deserve a slightly embellished back story. Those garments should never fade on the racks of discount stores, their whispers unheard.

Vignette #235

5 reader comments (closed)


Adam Snider

Abandoned pants and shoes are always slightly disturbing, in my mind. With shoes, it almost seems worse to see a single discarded shoe, than a matching pair. Not sure why, it’s one of those things that “just is.”

Sometimes, though, a pair of shoes can be more disturbing than a single shoe. Like the time, last winter, that I came home to see fresh footprints in the back-alley snow.

They led up to a pair of black running shoes, and just stopped, as if the owner of the shoes had vanished into thin air. There were no tracks continuing on after the shoes, and it seems unlikely that the owner would have backtracked through the tracks leading up to the shoes—especially with no shoes on.

I still have no idea what to make of that scene.

Oct 31, 2007 • 11:02



Interesting and bizarre. Really makes you want to know the back story. It’s with a combination of fascination and distress that I see these things.

Oct 31, 2007 • 16:13



I found a black pump in the middle of a snowy road once. A single, black pump. I kept it for years, as a reminder of the woman hobbling around in one shoe. I even imagined what she might look like. Now, I have a full-blown foot fetish, and black pump fetish, and snow fetish….It’s a dangerous thing finding one-ofs….I’m living, obsessed proof!

Nov 02, 2007 • 10:44


Mark McCawley

Typical Edmonton fare. More concerned with the clothing than those that fit into them. Out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. Close your eyes and recall the barely visible people you pass everyday, or the outright invisible that populate our city like ghosts.

Nov 12, 2007 • 06:25



The city begets anonymity.

Nov 12, 2007 • 09:41

Running shoes, September 2007

Running shoes, September 2007



StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

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