In 9th grade English, we read The Merchant of Venice, I think. And among all the macho posturing we found many perplexing references to the size of the characters’ codpieces. My bawdy English teacher explained with relish that a codpiece was the crotch decoration men wore to connect the two legs of their pants, back in the day when pants were just two legs. The more manly a fellow was, the larger his codpiece would necessarily have to be. Much discussion ensued about codpiece styles and symbolism, and by the end of class, Shakespeare had scandalized our delicate 14-year-old sensibilites yet again. But at least it makes a little more sense now why we wear a plural “pair of pants.” Keep in mind that my knowledge of pants history is based on just this one encounter 15 years ago, so it may not stand up to the wikitruth.
That brings us right up to the current moment. My interest in pants has been reignited by my sewing class where I have just completed the very newest member of this illustrious haberdashic family. I would have thought pants started as two pieces: a front and a back. But no, they start as four pieces (front and back of each leg), probably because sewing patterns haven’t changed since the pair of legs were separate. We sewers consider pants a complicated project, and I glowed with pride as I finished the final hem. Then I insisted on wearing them home, to the indulgent mirth of my teacher and classmates. I didn’t catch anyone on the street casting me funny looks, wondering what on earth I had attached to my legs. Aaron didn’t even notice I was wearing self-made pants when we met up at the fruit market. He asked me whether I had finished them, and only when I burst out laughing did he realize. “I see. Well, I guess we better hope they’re finished,” he recovered himself. Now my pants and I do everything together.