One Leg At A Time

Edgar had learned from a young age that none of his heroes were, in fact, special, because they all had to put their pants on the same way.

“Miss Neumiller, my teacher, is awesome!” Edgar beamed at his father when he got home from kindergarten on the first day.

“Well, she still puts her pants on one leg at a time, like the rest of us,” his dad replied.

“Iron Man is the BEST superhero!” twelve-year-old Edgar hollered, buried deep in the pages of his newest comic book.

“Well, he still puts his pants on one leg at a time, like the rest of us,” his dad replied.

“Did you know that Gandhi led the successful campaign to free India from Britain’s rule?” Edgar asked one day while writing a term paper for history class.

“Well, he still put his pants on one leg at a time, like the rest of us,” his dad replied.

“I don’t even think Gandhi wore pants,” Edgar said.  But the message had already sunk in deep.

So as Edgar contemplated his future, he thought about all the things he wanted to achieve. He thought about working toward world peace, or curing cancer, or making a program that could do your taxes so that you always got a five-figure refund. But he realized that no matter what he accomplished, he would be doomed to the mundane life of just regular folk, putting his pants on one leg at a time.

Unless…

Unless his accomplishment was to free himself (and society) from the confines of one-legged pants-donning! And so, Edgar set out to find a way to put on his pants both legs at a time!

His first invention simply held the pants in place so Edgar could jump into them. Unfortunately, Edgar tried this machine out fairly close to the basement stairs. He jumped, but not high enough, so he didn’t clear the waistband. He tripped on the pants and fell head over heels down the stairs, leaving him bruised and naked from the waist down.  

After recovering, he came up with a second idea that involved a machine putting the pants on him. He lay on the ground while the machine attempted to pull the pants on over his outstretched legs. However, due to a miscalibration, he sustained a serious groin injury which the doctors said would likely affect his future fertility. Undaunted, Edgar continued on with his plan.

The next iteration of his machine involved a smaller hop, kind of like jumping rope. Edgar would jump up slightly, allowing the machine to quickly position the pants under his feet. With the appropriate timing, it could get the pants exactly under his feet so he could land neatly in the leg-holes. Then he would pull the pants up on his own, triumphant in his knowledge that he had achieved what no other man was brave enough to do. But after nearly 1,000 attempts, he still had not achieved the perfect jump. He had, however, tired out his leg muscles enough that he fell, landed on the machine, and snapped off the lever that aligned the pants. The lever impaled him in the thigh, requiring thirty stitches to repair. The ER doctors, remembering him from his previous exploits, implored him to stop his attempts at greatness. Still, Edgar heard his calling and continued to pursue its siren song.

Pants-of-greatness version 4.0 involved a button that was triggered by his jump, flinging out the pants on a lever so that he could land securely in them. Unfortunately, Edgar had run out of scrap metal while building his previous machines, so he used kitchen cutlery to build the prototype. The button he jumped off of was a small skillet, and the lever was made of an old kitchen knife which he had barely ever used (he mostly ate fast food, as he felt it inspired creativity). Since the knife was barely used, it was remarkably sharp. When the skillet slipped during his initial jump, he lost his balance and fell backward. The knife lodged in his popliteal artery, and some of his spurting blood coincidentally happened to splash the open circuitry of the machine, leading to a mild electrocution. By the time the ambulance arrived, he had lost enough blood and absorbed enough electricity that his leg was no longer salvageable.  

After the amputation and the barrage of psychiatric tests that followed showing that Edgar, while eccentric, was surprisingly sane and capable of making his own decisions, he returned home to recover. He was quite depressed for a while, realizing that he would never truly impress his father by achieving his dream of putting on his pants both legs at a time.

Channeling his energy into new pursuits, he developed a technique that allowed scientists to grow new organs, revolutionizing the field of transplant medicine. With only a few skin cells from the patient, doctors could grow new hearts, livers, kidneys, or spleens for their needy patients over the course of just 1-2 weeks. People lived longer, healthier lives, free of many of the diseases that had plagued society in the past. But no matter how he tried, Edgar never discovered how to re-grow a severed leg. In his old age, when he could no longer devote his pursuits to the study of organ regeneration, he retired to the nursing home to live out the end of his days.

Edgar’s roommate was a crotchety old man with dementia named Horace. Horace had been a nudist, and the nurses had a hard time getting him dressed before he would run off, streaking down the women’s ward of the Alzheimer’s unit, to many screams and much overall confusion. Edgar would watch the nurses wrestle him into shirt and pants as he kicked and clawed, shouting “let me be free!” It was the best entertainment Edgar had for the day.

After months of this, a new nurse was hired at the nursing home. Walking into Edgar’s room, she simply set Horace’s pants on the floor, then held out her hand. In it was a wrapped, full-size Hershey’s chocolate bar. Horace walked up to her and stood over the pants, trying to open the chocolate bar. The nurse simply pulled up his pants, both legs at a once, before he could resist or argue.

“Well, I’ll be damned.” Edgar said. He died of a stroke a few minutes later, knowing that he had finally, truly seen a great man, unconstrained by the rules of pants that even the best of us are resigned to follow every day.

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