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February 24, 2004
Letter to the Pocket Man

Dear Guy Who Invented the Pocket-Inside-a-Pocket,

Seriously, what is the point? Every once in a while I put on a pair of pants, slide my right hand into the pocket, and discover you have been there before me, weaving your demonic threads. What, exactly, is so important that it needs its own room inside my pocket, yet so unimportant that it can be stored in my pants? Are there really so many objects in the world that fit this description?

Another question -- have you ever tried to use your invention? Do you have fingers the size of a raccoon's? Having normal, man-sized fingers, I find this little capsule of cloth utterly useless. I can't even get a penny out of there. The other night I was at the store and needed change -- change I had on my person, mind you -- but couldn't get to it without doing either a cartwheel or some inappropriate groping of myself. I'm getting too old for both, Guy Who Invented the Pocket-Inside-a-Pocket.

You think you've served mankind with your little invention? Not so much. At best you've broken some of us of a bad habit of keeping our keys in our front pockets, which always creates an unsightly bulge. The reason I refrain now is because inevitably the wad of keys finds its way into the little pocket inside my pocket. That little pocket is like a Roach Motel for keys; they check in, but they don't check out. To release them I have to drag the entire pocket apparatus out of my pants and tug, pry, and curse. My children don't need to see this.

Furthermore, you need to understand something about decent people. When they see a grown man hunched at the waist, straining and tugging at his crotch region, they don't generally look closely enough to see exactly what he's doing. So even though I'm doing nothing more than trying to get MY keys back from YOUR little pocket prison, I look like a pervert to my fellow citizens. Being neither a street person nor the 42nd president of the United States, this is a humiliation to which I have been unable to grow accustomed.

Guy Who Invented the Pocket-Inside-a-Pocket, I must ask you to cease and desist. The other day I put on a new blazer and dropped my keys inside its waist pocket. I discovered that your handiwork has now spread to upper-body garments. As I struggled to free my keys, I wondered where you will strike next. Perhaps you'll team up with the Glad baggy people, and create a little baggy-inside-a-baggy. Or maybe you can sell movie theaters on a popcorn bucket with a little compartment that traps those last few pieces of corn that are the only thing that gets me through a Julia Roberts movie.

The possibilities are endless -- cars with seats too small to hold even a baby doll, newspapers with sections in size-one font, refrigerators with vegetable bins that can barely hold half a jalapeno. Just think of all the useless additions you can inflict on a host of valuable products. The opportunity for needless economic destruction rivals anything available to the Department of Agriculture.

Guy Who Invented the Pocket-Inside-a-Pocket, I wish you a painful end befitting the damage you have wrought on this earth. Perhaps some kind of hotel bed accident, wherein you suffocate after accidentally slipping between two tightly fitted sheets.

Repent before it is too late. Give up the Devil's work and dedicate the remainder of your miserable life to designing wide, luxurious pockets, the kind that can hold my keys, 99 cents in change, AND my Blackberry without the slightest bulge. Turn your talents to good rather than evil, Guy Who Invented the Pocket-Inside-a-Pocket, before you give the entire pocket-making industry a bad name.

Posted by Woodlief on February 24, 2004 at 08:50 AM


While I can commiserate with you, I can do so only up to a point. I think that pocket inside a pocket is actually a watch pocket, because that's where I store the watch that my wife's great grandfather used while working for the railroad. We're probably showing our age difference here.

Posted by: greg at February 24, 2004 9:35 AM

The Guy Who Invented Cargo Pants is just as bad. An abundance of oversized pockets is completely unneccessary. Even worse is that nestled amongst the plethora of ample pockets is surely a pocket-inside-a-pocket.

Posted by: Josh at February 24, 2004 10:45 AM

Not to mention that Cargo pants make you look like a lumpy potato. Just a big lumpy potato covered in pockets. Heaven forbid they're beige potato-color!

Posted by: Lucy at February 24, 2004 10:51 AM

Well, my uncle Fred was a 'Gentleman's bespoke tailor', and as a kid I learned many of the mysteries of the art watching him work. These pockets-within-pockets could be found either in the trousers or the suit jacket. Down below, they make more sense for loose change if the pants are baggy, as they used to be three generations ago. Fred always said the variety in the jacket was a ticket pocket (in the days when most people used public transport). I should have paid more attention, but as a seven-year-old I didn't get beyond the fascination of "left or right side, sir?", which governed the hang of the lower garment . . .

Posted by: Kevin Morrison at February 24, 2004 11:01 AM

re: the pocket-inside-a-pocket -- on my blue jeans, that's where I carry my car keys. And getting them in and out of the little pocket is no problem, because I always put them in with the key ring facing up, so that I can just hook my finger in the ring and haul 'em out. (Besides, it won't fit with the key ring facing down.)

Posted by: Chuckg at February 24, 2004 11:27 AM

A pocket-in-a-pocket (a metapocket?) is also handy if you carry a small pillbox. In my regular pocket it always rattles around and works itself into awkward leg-poking angles. In the little change pocket it sits snugly and quietly. A little buttoned pocket sewed into a widened front beltloop is even better--but I actually like wearing cargo pants, so my taste is probably suspect. :)

Posted by: Bryan C at February 24, 2004 5:37 PM

I am fairly certain that the pocket-in-the-pocket was one of the more nefarious results of Keynes' economic policies early last century. I heard that it was part of a federal work program venture under FDR in which the unemployed intelligensia were put to work designing superfluous material accessories. Also arising from this period: loop tags on the back of shirts, cuff links, and the double-backed hat made famous by Gallagher.

Posted by: John Coleman at February 27, 2004 12:48 AM

I think some people are confusing the watch pocket with the pocket-inside-a-pocket in question. The former is a separate, smaller pocket above and somewhat overlapping with the main pocket. The latter is an insane invention whereby the lower portion of a pocket is choked off to create a small secondary enclosure within the pocket itself. I had a pair of shorts with such a monstrosity once and it was never useful. Usually my change or keys would end up lodged in there, and since it's so deep in your pocket and only about two fingers wide at the opening you have to really dig around to get stuff out. They are, of course, an invention of none other than Satan.

As to watch-pockets, I love them. I wish more pants than jeans had them because they're very useful. Sometimes I put movie tickets or miscelaneous small items (such as a paper clip) in them, where they don't get jumbled up with and smashed against all the flotsam and jetsam that usually inhabits my pocketary spaces (keys, change, knives, tools, etc.) Lately I've taken to putting those little breath strip packs in there, and this configuration certainly ranks up there along with the marriage of chocalate and milk.

In summary, pockets-inside-pockets: bad; watch pockets: awesome! Watch pockets killed NAZI's ya know. 'Struth, look it up.

Posted by: Robin Goodfellow at February 28, 2004 12:17 AM

it's been perhaps 8 years or so. good to see that you are still in the land of the living and writing.


Posted by: lester spence at March 3, 2004 6:25 PM