The official title of the Dr. Seuss story is What Was I Scared Of? but growing up we always referred to it in my family as “The Pale Green Pants with Nobody Inside Them,” because that’s what it’s about. This topped the list of freaky weird tales that creeped me out. Yet it was one of my favorites.
The protagonist keeps encountering these spooky pale green pants (with nobody inside them) in various settings, and is understandably shaken. He runs from them and otherwise does everything he can to avoid crossing paths with these disembodied trousers.
This really is an odd concept if you stop to think about it. Wouldn’t you be disturbed if you came across a pair of levitating leggings? Not only that, but they are capable of independent movement. And they’re that weird monster-green color. If you’re not familiar with this story, you should be. Check out those pictures.
So then our friend has a meeting he can’t run away from! He’s now face-to-face (so to speak) with the strange free-standing tights! Screaming in terror is the only option! What will happen?!
Something we didn’t expect. The floating breeches quiver to the ground and start to cry. They were just as frightened as our hero, and all that screaming didn’t help, thank you very much. The narrator then sits downs and comforts the sobbing slacks, and they become friends.
This reminds me of the time I had a live mousetrap and the big noise that was coming from it. I envisioned some rat that would be at home in the sewers of Paris (forgetting that it wouldn’t have been able to fit in the trap in the first place). In reality, it was a little mouse, looking up at me with those big eyes, quaking in fear, probably from looking at my even bigger eyes.
(I must insert here that I once went out with a guy with whom I was completely smitten. I kept learning all these things that convinced me we would be perfect together. The icing on the cake was when he mentioned that this was his favorite Dr. Seuss story. This alone would have been, to me, sufficient justification for an ongoing relationship. Alas, he did not return my feelings.)
I think the takeaway here is that we shouldn’t assume we know what’s going on with others. Even those who appear confident may have as many insecurities as we do. Rather than despise them, we should reach out, as we might have more in common than we think. And in doing so we might make the acquaintance of someone who could become a really interesting friend.