Can We Talk About Zippers?

I’ve recently had an insight into the unfortunate phenomenon known as ‘flying low’. That is, forgetting to zip your trousers zipper and, you know, wandering around in public. Wikipedia, incidentally, lists an excellent set of international euphemisms for this.

Zipping one’s fly and buttoning the top button are rote activities. Two simple gestures: zip and button. We do them several times a day for most of our lives. I’ve done it for, what, at least thirty years.

I’ve realized that my risk of flying low increases dramatically when my trousers have more than two fastening steps. For example, a lot of suit trousers have a hook-and-bar system in addition to the usual button and zipper. This makes for three fastening gestures, with the third being the critical zipping step. On auto-pilot, I’ll sometimes get through the first two and just stop.

This is doubly bad because my wearing a suit often implies a speaking gig, where I’m able to advertise my misstep in front of dozens or hundreds of people.

Similarly, I have a pair of surfer shorts which have two buttons at the waist. Again, three gestures makes for a high risk operation.

Button flies, interestingly, never cause a problem. I guess this is because, in one sense, the fastening process is one gesture.

Am I alone in this? Should I just concentrate more when getting dressed?


  1. Absolutely! I find the belt to be a real culprit in in this instance. I’m accustomed to doing two things to get the job done, when there’s a third, my autopilot often misses the last step.

    I like the Danish euphemisms : “You forgot to lock up the livestock”

  2. I can’t say I have that problem, Darren. However, on another note – euphemisms for flying low? Is there anything Wikipedia doesn’t have!?

  3. You know, it was only about 5 years ago that I learned that you have to flip the little tab on the zipper down, and then it helps to lock it in place.

    You’d think this is something they’d tell you as a kid…

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