If you haven't heard of Improv Everywhere, immediately after reading this google them. They have done some amazing work. It's part performance art, part urban prank, part awesome. I heard about them on NPR a few weeks back and finally googled them last Friday. To my wonder and amazement the no pants train thing is everywhere, even here in little ole SLC. So I immediately sign up without a further thought in my head.
I actually did do some thinking about it. Not real deep thinking obviously, but thinking none the less. I've been thinking a lot the past several weeks about things I can do to make a difference in the lives of people around me. For the better. This is a whole other topic, but I think I found my dharma (not the same as kharma). I want to make people smile and feel happy and good. Besides being a great prank, the people behind this event really do want to make people smile. I am ok with looking silly if it makes someone laugh a bit. Also, I needed a good laugh myself.
A secondary reason I did it, was to prove to myself that I am comfortable with my body. I have not historically had a positive self image. Regardless of my actual weight or appearance, I always have an idea of myself in my head that is distorted and negative. I am finally developing some acceptance for my body. Probably my least favorite part of my body are my thighs, which were about the only part of me that was seen. I was bundled head to toe otherwise. It was a drastic way of declaring, here I am and I'm not ashamed, but whatever. I can accept my body and not show it off and that's ok too, cause no one else has to approve for my to like myself. But it was a reason that went through my head.
So what's this all about. A big group of us met at the Trax station at 3:00 Sunday afternoon. I saw a group of people standing around with backpacks and figured that is it. There isn't a lot of coordination. Just everyone board the train. At some point during the ride through the free zone, take off your pants. Then ride the trains around the free zone without pants on.
If you are wondering, it is not illegal to not wear pants in public or on Trax (the VP I think they said, rode along pantless the past two years). You have to have something on your bottom, and there are rules on what can be seen. In the meeting info they specifically told people to keep it tasteful, so there are no issues with future rides. This was the 3rd year they've done it in SLC and the 9th in New York.
Yes, I am kinda crazy, but I still have a set of personal standards I choose to adhere to. Modesty is one of them. I was sorely tempted by some cute ruffly undies, but unless you are like 3 or under, no one should be seeing your ruffles in public. 3 year old, so cute. 30 year old, trashy. I found some lovely candy cane striped boxers that brought the balance of humor and coverage.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous after getting on the train. The group was probably 50-60% of the train at the time. We all kind of sat/stood around looking nervously at each other. Well, I was trying really hard to keep a straight face, so I didn't look at anyone much. I pulled out my Sudoku and pretended not to notice anything. After the first stop the girl across from me took off her pants. I tried to watch the non-participants out of the corner of my eye. Pricelesss. As more people start taking off their pants, there's this look of confusion. Like, am I seeing what I'm seeing? And then smiling, like I am seeing what I'm seeing!
I kind of looked around like, what's that, oh, ok, back to Sudoku. Mid-ride I took off my boots, pulled my pants off (focusing seriously on not pulling my boxers down too, wore a 2nd pair of undies underneath just in case.), put my boots back on, and sat down in all my candy cane striped glory.
I have to admit one of my first thoughts wasn't "oh my gosh, I'm not wearing pants," it was, "merciful heavens, my thighs are touching the seat, where's this seat been?, gah, I need a disinfectant wipe". I got over it. And stood most of the time.
I heard from the other side of the train that after everyone took their pants off, some guy got off the next stop and ran away. I hope he was just in a hurry and we didn't scare him. Dear sir, if we scared you, I am so sorry. It was all in fun. We just wanted to make people smile. (Which in many cases we did.) If you were offended or scared, please forgive us.
One of the biggest reactions I noticed was people trying to act like it was no big deal. A guy sat across from me at one point and was trying hard not to stare. When I went to the door and looked back he was looking up and down the car bug-eyed. You know he went home and was like, you will not believe what I saw on the train today. There were 4 or 5 photographers from different newspapers there too. Maybe some of the people will see a story about it and understand. Or not, nothing wrong with keeping the mystery.
One of the most common verbal responses was, "aren't you cold?" I would just say, "Ya, the wind really cuts right through you, doesn't it."
I broke off from the main group after a while. Which was fun, cause I caught another train that some other guys were on and there was a young guy there totally worked up about the ones already on the train. Then I come hopping on pantless and he really gets going about how hardcore everyone in Salt Lake is. There was a photographer in that car taking pictures. So the guy says to the photographer, "Dude, I'm gonna take my pants off. Will you take my picture if I take my pants off?" The photographer just says totally sober, "Don't do that." I just shrug at him, like what are you talking about.
At one stop I was alone waiting for the next train and a guy and his kid are working the stop. He said his daughter's bag was stolen that had their money and train tickets on. Is he telling the truth? I don't know, but I do know it's freezing!!! His kid was bundled up pretty good, but I gave him all the money I had which was only $2. He thanked me, all the time trying to not look at my legs. He tried. I noticed later he was further down talking to another guy and they were staring my way. I don't know if they were talking about the state of my pantlessness or how nice I was. I will never know. Either way, I made them happy.
It actually surprised me when I was the only one on the train, how many people didn't looked phased at all. Someone said something about my shorts. I think a lot of people thought I was wearing short shorts. I'm ok with that. I really liked the dudes, in boy short cut undies, knee high socks, and dress shoes. You knew they were not in short shorts.
Another favorite moment was when I hopped off the train at one stop where a group of 4-5 teenage boys (dressed like a little posse of thugs) where waiting to get on. And I quote, "Whoah!", "Wow! Don't mess with that!", and the youngest looking one, "Nice legs!" I just said "Thanks guys" and moved to the other side of the station. I liked the look of surprise on their faces and how they just said what came at the moment.
When I would walk pass people, I would look back a lot and catching them staring. To your face, they act like no biggie, but once you're past it's all WTH. If I made eye contact I did smile. I was there to for smiles, not to just expose myself.
Another fun reaction was this old (I think homeless), loud guy. As I got off and he got on, he yelled back (and everyone heard he was so loud, and slurred) "You got guts wearing them!" I said thanks back.
I really did keep a straight face the whole time. When I got to my car and drove up for family dinner, I couldn't stop giggling though. I would giggle like a silly kid, stop, then giggle some more. I hope we spread a little whimsy and humor today, but if nothing else, everyone who participated spread a little joy amongst ourselves.
Also, I just checked the Deseret News, and I am in one of the photos. Search for "pants", and the story should come up. It's only a little blurb, but there is a picture gallery, and you can see if you can find me. :)
Mom, don't be angry. You know me. You really shouldn't be surprised. It's art. And it was tastefully done. Hahahahahahaha. Ah. I like me.