The policeman was standing at Main and Boxtop without pants, and all I could think of asking was whether a policeman without pants was still a policeman. Not what happened to his pants, nor why did he not seem to notice he had no pants, nor was he cold in our moderate climate without his pants.

And my mother looked at me and said: this is the kind of person that you are.

She was right, of course.

I last saw the policeman – and he was still very much a policeman, with or without pants – gesturing to pedestrians to cross with the light. As they stepped out it was most important at that moment that they were being directed by the heft of a policeman and that I had been silly enough to worry about his pants, to consider whether they made any difference at all.

His jacket, from the start, should have been, clearly, enough.

He surely had a pair of pants at home. Even now, his wife would be ironing them, fixing the crease just so, elaborating the cuff, aligning the waist band with her spider silk fingers, as pernicious as the exhaustible flies of August. Her face would be the round O of belief and her breasts would happily get in the way. She would be thinking that this is all there is to it. This is what matters to my policeman.

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