I have a strange body. As is true of most of my fellow octogenarians, I have a small but significant pot belly, but unlike many others, I have a truly small bum. Consequently, my trousers – no matter which I wear – have a nasty habit of sliding down. They do so even when my belt is tightly fastened. Hence I spend a lot of time grabbing them when I am trying to cook or wash dishes, or even when out walking. In fact it was more than just grabbing: much of the day I had to hold on to my trousers while doing other things. It was beginning to be truly troublesome, and, at times, embarrassing.
Some of my family and friends suggested I try wearing different trousers. But, as I wrote, this seemed to make little difference. Others suggested I use suspenders (braces). I was reluctant to do so even though I had acquired several pair (is that really plural?) that were actually quite attractive. Well, at least they were unusual. My reluctance to wear them stemmed back to my childhood. At that time most boys wore suspenders. But then, as I assumed still would be true today, I realized that if I was wearing a sweater with them, I had to remove the sweater or jacket whenever I needed to make what we then called ‘number two’. For those who are mystified by this terminology the hint is that urinating was number 1. (Of historical interest, in those days if you had to leave class to visit the ‘bathroom’ you signalled the reason by raising your hand and showing one or two fingers. NO, I am NOT making this up!) Anyway, my point is that at that wearing suspenders was, at best, a nuisance and occasionally a disaster if you could not shed the layers fast enough.
Recently, however, I realized that my wardrobe had changed somewhat over the last 70 years. Specifically, nowadays I rarely wear sweaters or if I do it is likely to be a cardigan that is easy to remove. More often, I simply wear a shirt. All of which is to explain that adding a pair of suspenders would not pose the same problem as it did long ago. Accordingly, I decided to try them again. I did so and they are now incorporated into my regular wardrobe – such as it is. And … what a relief! How my life has been transformed!! I no longer clutch at my waistband or am vexed at ever-descending trousers. Free at last!
By the way, as I searched for a synonym for braces or suspenders, I learned that the word ‘braces’ was first used in the 14th century. It originated from the Middle English for Anglo-French for clasp or pair or support. These words derive from the Latin ‘bracchia’ – the plural of bracchium or arm. Suspenders, however, has no synonym and is simply defined as “one of two supporting bands worn across the shoulders to support trousers, skirt, or belt —usually used in plural and often with pair”.
So to be entirely safe, in future I shall refer to my things as ‘a pair of suspenders’. That should not be confused with the fussy phrase ‘belt and braces’ which is what our children urge me to adopt … that is, both belt and braces … just in case one fails and they, the family, is cast into everlasting shame.