I’m just going to come right out and say it: may I humbly submit the suggestion that by many measures, it may conceivably be arguable that perhaps one might postulate that some parts of the globe haven’t completely climbed out of recession yet. But, reeling from the shock of this ruthlessly deployed ordnance of truth, and doing our best to digest this undiluted straight talk, still, we must ask: what can we as individuals do when the economy takes a beating? The common, glib advice is that we should all ‘tighten our belts’ when a recession hits, but obviously that would be completely unnecessary if we just wore spandex all the time. Imagine: both in times of high production and low production, our pants fit equally well. If a recession escalates into a full-blown suicidal depression, it’s conceivable that our pants could get just a bit saggy, but odds are good that the waistband would probably be snug enough that our pants would stay on. In a worst-case scenario, we can always throw on a pair of suspenders to help secure our limp lycra pantaloons. I know what you’re thinking, though: do I even need to wear pants in the first place? Yes, you do. Despite Jeffersonian claims about how “all men are created equal”, or more modern claims that go so far as to extend equality to those who identify as being of more exotic or arcane genders – even the female gender – the option to go pants-less remains the exclusive province of the rich. Some people would say that’s because the rich are always screwing you anyway, but I personally find those jokes offensive and not worthy of repeating, even in a self-contradictory sentence, and furthermore they don’t explain why everyone shouldn’t be pants-less.
And what happens when the economy really goes gangbusters? Again, the belt sartorial option doesn’t give us that much room to maneuver. Spandex wins again — as we continually ramp up our eating schedules and ratchet up our chowing intensities and our guts expand to a pleasingly enormous girth, the woven elastic fibres of our spandex clothing are able to expand to almost 500% of their unstressed length. It’s because of these virtues that spandex clothing has become by far the most popular kind of clothing in regions with volatile economies. Where an economy is heavily based on resource extraction or production, and hence vulnerable to unstable commodity prices and the consequent cycles of boom and bust, the entire populace tends to dress almost exclusively in garments fashioned of the stretchy fibre. This is the first thing to strike most visitors who have headed off to a remote logging camp, mining camp, or offshore oil drilling platform. While images in the popular media condition us to expect rugged, rough-hewn, macho, blue-collar workers dressed in dirty coveralls, cussing, spitting, engaged in drunken brawling and beer-bottle smashing, grunting and stinking of rancid vomit and urine and bile and furiously humping wild mountain goats while bellowing out ancient Norse battle cries into the shrieking winds and the endless chasms and spires of cold, unforgiving stone, in fact, those traveling to these places are often surprised to meet clean-cut, erudite, soft-spoken, urbane pansies prancing about in American Apparel leotards, giving each other oil massages, and making love to docile domesticated mountain goats. This unexpected discovery is easily explained by the fact that most visitors to remote work camps have a poor sense of direction and tend to end up at art openings in very hip neighbourhoods in cities of the Pacific Northwest.