A few weeks ago I went to one of our local chain clothing stores looking for some "basic" black pants for work. There was a varied selection of fabric choices, cuts and styles, some ready to wear, others needing a hem or two to complete them. I gathered up a selection and brought them with me to the dressing room, sure that I would find something suitable. I must mention that I wear and odd size--36x36 though 36x38 is often better for dress pants. As I made my way through that stack of pants, I was amazed that each pair seemed a looser fit than the last; I run a lot, so it's not that unusual for me lose about 1/2" on my waist line, especially when I am training for a race, but I didn't even have to unzip or unbutton these pants, I could just pull them on and off. I went out to the sales floor, grabbed a 34 waisted pant and gave them a go, same thing, easy on and easy off. I was perplexed. I asked a sales clerk if there was some label problem of if they'd redone the sizes or something; her reply, "It's the comfort waist feature. There's a hidden elastic band on both sides of the hips, it expands. Isn't it a great feature?" I'm sure she must have seen the abject look of horror on my face as I asked, "Why not just call a size 40 a size 40; now we have to call it a size 36 Comfort Waist?" She just gave me a wan smile and explained that most men need a little extra give in the waist area. "No," I replied, "Most men need to lay off the beer and potato chips while watching NASCAR and exercise a few times a week. Problem solved." Blunt, I know. I asked if they had any pants sans comfort waist feature, but apparently when 85% of the town's population is overweight, the rest of us are stuck dealing with the fallout. The salesperson mentioned that I could always order from their catalog, as they carry the extended collection of sizes and additional features. I could even have the selection shipped to the store to avoid paying shipping fees... Curiously, I failed to find any blue jeans in the store with this new Comfort Waist feature; apparently if you are overweight and wish to go casual, you must cede to actual waist sizing. A trip to a competing local chain clothing store yielded much the same results; they did, however, have a wide selection of pleated pants which were available with standard sized waists. A word on pleated pants, IMHO, if they aren't reverse pleats, nobody looks good in them; it's like having origami attached to either side of your hips, I think the extra vertical lines are supposed to imply length and slimming features, but all that extra fabric and hemming just makes you look like a japanese fan that met a roll of milled rayon. I eventually found the pants that I was looking for, at one of our small independent local clothiers; the selection was of such array that I could have spent all afternoon trying on pants. And the Comfort Waist? I'm sure they existed somewhere on the racks of the shop, like mythical beasts waiting to be discovered or destined to be forgotten. Sizing, as I discovered, is no longer set; many objects are indeed larger than they first appear.