I’ll spare you any photographic evidence because I’m a loooooooong way from pointing a camera anywhere near my midsection. But today I did it. I tried them on. I call them “The Khakis.”

Anyone who’s done the diet thing or experienced a weight gain of any significance can count on that seminal day when they come to grips and clear out their closet of old clothes that used to fit. Perhaps they do it in resigned defeat or because they finally realize that no matter how long one holds onto that Angel’s Flight leisure suit, it is never coming back into style. Probably a little bit of both.

But there’s always a keeper. Maybe it’s a shirt or a blouse or a pair of pants or a dress… whatever it is, you used to fit into it and you’ll be damned if one day someday you won’t fit into it again. Buried it goes into the back of the closet. An exiled vestige of hope that the you that used to fit into it will return triumphant.

For me I dumped a bunch of clothes when I moved in with Susan at the end of July 2004 and then again in the fall of 2005. This last time was under the guise of uncramping a cramped closet, but we all really know the truth: at 260 pounds with a waist pushing beyond 44″ in circumference, the long unworn stuff — the medium-sized shirts and the 38- and 40-inch pants — that I yanked from hangers and stuffed into plastic garbage bags for the drive over to the nearest Goodwill was never going to adorn me in my present state again.

Until I came to that pair of khakis — and they are nothing of note. Pleated and 100% cotton and very well weathered, I purchased them at Ross, most likely in 2001. They are from the Savane “No Wrinkles” Collection, whatever that means.

But for as nondescript as they are they were part of defining moments of both my fitness and my slide away from it. I was wearing those very pants one day at work in October of 2003 when a coworker commented how absolutely skinny I’d become. Having only shortly before that completed the eight-day, 475-mile bike ride down the California coast I was the leanest and meanest I’d been since my early 20s.

Trouble was after the bike ride, I totally quit exercising and totally started eating badly and packing the pounds back on. By the next month’s annual Veterans Day-weekend trip to Death Valley I brought those khakis with me for dinner at the Furnace Creek Inn with my friends Rachel and Eric. I noticed that instead of almost falling off me, they were suddenly a bit too snug around my waist.

That was my last time wearing them, and because of those memories, they became The Keepers that day — but not without me making the mistake of putting them. Oh boy had I fallen far. Even sucking in my gut as far as I could, I couldn’t even button them. Thoroughly dejected I almost ejected them onto the donation pile. But back onto a pants hanger they went and deep inside the closet I put them with me dreaming noncommitally of the someday I’d be able to put them on again. And be proud.

Well that day was today. I decided to run the risk of disappointment and give them a try-on. Retrieving them from the dark depths of the wardrobe I coached myself to be pleased with any improvement and not get down if the button couldn’t make its way to the buttonhole.

Well dammit if the button didn’t find the buttonhole with ease — and no gut sucking required! Sure, there’s room for improvement. While they’re not dangling off me like they were In October of ’03, instead there not quite as snug as I remember them being in Death Valley.

You’ll have to pardon me for patting myself on the back so profusely, but I just can’t deny the elation at being able to supplant the awful memory of these pants just a few months ago, with this wonderful new one today.