Fact Check

Poopy Pants

A tale of a first date from hell involving a messed pair of pants, a train, and a wrong package.

Published Jan. 30, 2001


Claim:   A young man on a date messes his pants, buys new pants, throws old pants away, then discovers his shopping bag contains a sweater instead of pants.


Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 1996]

Bill Gale was here on Saturday night, and he told us the funniest story I have ever heard in my life, about one of his friends (and it's true). (It doesn't matter if you don't know Bill Gale; this is still a great story. However, if you do know Bill Gale, try to picture him telling this one at a bar.)

This guy lives in Westchester, NY and goes to school at Ithaca College. For two years, he has wanted to ask a certain girl (who is also from Westchester and also goes to Ithaca) out on a date, but has never had the courage. Finally, one day over the summer, he sees her at home and musters up the courage to ask her out. She accepts, and they make dinner plans for Saturday night.

Friday night, this guy goes out with all of his buddies, and drinks like Prohibition is coming back. Saturday, he is in such bad shape that he can't make it through twenty minutes without either puking or shitting. After several hours of this, he is able to stop puking, but he is still running to the toilet every 20 minutes to shit. He doesn't want to cancel the date, because he's afraid he won't ever talk to her again.

So they meet in Westchester, and take the train to New York City (about a 30 minute ride). They get to the restaurant, and he excuses himself during the appetizers to use the bathroom. They enjoy the rest of the appetizers without interruption, but he has to go back again during the entrees. They decide to get dessert. During dessert, our hero feels another rumbling, but doesn't want to look like a complete bathroom freak, so he holds it. After a few minutes, the rumbling subsides, but he still has a bit of gas stored up. He decides to let this little bit of gas fly right there at the table (discreetly, of course). Unfortunately, this little bit of gas came with another little surprise. "Oh shit," he thinks (and feels). Instead of running to the bathroom right away, our hero immediately leans on the

arms of his chair to keep from sitting on this surprise. He maintains this yoga position for the rest of dessert, trying to figure out what to do before his tan pants (a) start to smell, or (b) start to show stains on the outside.

He quickly pays for dinner and they leave the restaurant. Oh, by the way, he is walking like a cowboy. On the way to the train station, they pass the Gap.

"Do you mind if I run in and buy a sweater that I was looking at last week?" he asks.

"No problem, I'd like to look around too," she replies.

They go into the Gap. Fortunately, at the Gap, men's fashions are on the right, women's fashions are on the left. They split up. Our hero grabs the first sweater within reach, and hurries back to the khakis. After selecting a pair that most closely resemble his current outfit, he brings both items to the register. His eyes are on his date (still on the other side of the store) to make sure that she doesn't see him buying the pants. He doesn't even want the sweater, so he says through clenched teeth (just in case his date can read lips from 40 feet away) "Just the pants."

"What?" asks the Gap girl.

"Just the pants!" (Eyes still trained on his date.)

Gap girl: "Oh, OK."

He pays for the pants and walks over to his date, then they leave the store.

They board the train just before it leaves the station and find two seats in the middle of the car. Without sitting down, our hero excuses himself and walks to the bathroom in the back of the car. He gets to the bathroom as the train departs, and quickly rips off his pants and boxer shorts. He rolls them into a ball and throws them out the window. After cleaning himself off, he opens the Gap bag and pulls out...just the sweater.


As you must have realized, the only solution is to wear the sweater as pants. So he squeezes his legs into the arms of the sweater and pulls the rest of the fabric tight around his waist. He can only keep himself covered by hunching over. Walking will be a new challenge altogether.

Rather than going through the absolute trauma of returning to his seat and explaining (or creating an elaborate lie to explain) the entire incident, our hero waits in the bathroom until the train stops at the next station. He waits until the moment the train starts to pull away from the station, then dashes out of the bathroom (as quickly as a hunched over cowboy with sweater pants can dash) and jumps off the train. He is lost and stranded somewhere between New York City and Westchester.

He hasn't seen the girl since.


Origins:   The usual telling of this dating disaster legend involves a fellow who has a bit of an "accident" so he leaves his date standing outside a store while he dashes in to buy a pair of pants. Inevitably, there's a woman buying a sweater at the same time; he grabs his purchase, reclaims his ladyfriend, they get back to the train station, he goes to change, throws the soiled pants out the window, then finds out he grabbed the wrong package.

A British version tells of a henpecked husband who drinks too much at the office Christmas party (which he wasn't supposed to have been at in the first place), throws up on himself, stops to buy clothes so the wife won't know, and catches the train home:

[Dale, 1984]

A friend wasn't feeling well, but just couldn't see how he could miss the office Christmas party, so he took the train to town and over-indulged himself enormously, with the result that he was really very ill in several directions at once. So on his way back to the station he stumbled into an army surplus shop and asked for a pair of trousers — "38 waist, quick, here's a fiver" — the assistant stuffed them into a bag, and the man just managed to scramble into an empty compartment on the corridorless train back home. He removed his mucky old trousers, rolled them up, and threw them out of the window. Then he opened the bag, and found that somehow he had bought a denim jacket.

Plain and simple, this is an urban legend that plays upon a standard embarrassment theme of someone's being caught without clothes in public. As great a story as it is, we doubt it ever happened to anyone.

Applying the acid test of logic to the story reveals its fatal flaw. Suppose it happened to you. After you'd bought fresh clothing, would you return to your date still in

the smelly, soiled outfit and together make your way to the train station? Or would you hightail it into the store's changing room and change your pants then and there?

In February 1996, this legend surfaced on Z100, a New York radio station, during a program called "Love Phones." The female caller claimed it had happened to her, with the only unusual embellishment being that after sneaking off the train she later called her boyfriend to explain her disappearance, and he refused to believe her. One suspects the embellishment was added as an excuse to get the tale on the air. (If one is going to ask advice, one needs to present the story in the form of a problem, after all.)

In closing, let me leave you with a related tale out of a 1954 joke book:

A farmer brought some products to town and sold them. While there he decided to "live it up" a little and went to a sexy burlesque theatre. After the show he thought, "I will surprise my wife." He bought a suit of clothes, a hat, a pair of shoes and put them under the seat. On his way home he stopped at the river. There he took off his old clothes and threw them in. Then he looked under the seat for his new clothes but they were gone. Finally he got into the buggy and said, "Giddap, horse, we'll surprise her anyway."

Barbara "surprise closet" Mikkelson

Last updated:   4 October 2014


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