By Mary Lynn Bruny

Back when my husband was in his 40s and I was lovingly doing his laundry (okay, maybe not lovingly, but I was consistently doing it), he accused me of shrinking his clothes. Not just an item here or there but all of them. Despite the fact I had not changed our method of doing laundry one iota, suddenly all of his clothes were too tight, and obviously I was at fault.

But this theory didn’t make sense. His clothes from the dry cleaner were also too small. And none of my clothes seemed to be affected.

“Could it be you’ve packed on some poundage?” I asked with my usual grace and sensitivity while eyeing him up and down.

“Absolutely not,” he huffed in an offended tone. “I’m exactly the same size I’ve always been.”

People think love is the strongest emotion. Professionals who study feelings will tell you it’s shame. But I think denial takes the cake.

I just looked at my husband with raised eyebrows and said no more. All the clothes in his closet were magically smaller, and we would leave it at being some great mystery. He bought bigger clothes and gave the “shrunken” ones away.

But karma is a saucy lass and gives us a slap on the side of the side of the head when we least expect it. Because now the same thing is happening to me, and my case of denial is just as strong.

Early on in the pandemic I ordered a pair of jeans on sale, exactly like ones I have in my closet. They were backordered forever and recently arrived. When I shed my standard quarantine garb – sweatpants – and tried on my new jeans, I was annoyed to find I was sent the wrong size.

After pulling them forcefully up my body, I could get them zipped but not breathe, something I’m rather fond of doing. My organs were being smooshed together in a very unpleasant and certainly unhealthy manner. And my spine felt near snapping, probably not a good thing.

After peeling said jeans off my body – which involved a lot of sweat-inducing tugging – I noted the tag said they were my regular size, a clear lack of quality control. I took out my old jeans and visually compared the two. Amazingly, they looked similar in size, which really confused me.

Then I tried on my other jeans, something I hadn’t done for many, many months. They were all now organ squishers as well! I tried on more of my clothes; anything fitted felt like angry sausage casings! This is when I realized that – like my husband in his 40s – a lot of my wardrobe no longer fit, had shrunk, and this occurred without my knowing how it happened.

Chatting with other folks I found this was occurring to several of them as well: clothes unexpectedly fitting much more tightly. It seems many of us have a case of “COVID Closet Syndrome,” yet another byproduct of the pandemic which scientists have not yet been able to explain. Perhaps after years of expensive and extensive research this phenomenon will be understood.

Certainly it has nothing to do with the constant stress grazing and drinking we have all been doing at home. No, no, no, it can’t be that. That would be too dismal on top of all the bad news we encounter every day.

I am dealing with this syndrome as best I can. I’ve tried to exert a modicum of self-control with eating and drinking but have not had much success. Being realistic, I bought some larger pants. I really like being able to breathe and have use of my spine and kidneys.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Colorado freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected].