The Grey Labyrinth is a collection of puzzles, riddles, mind games, paradoxes and other intellectually challenging diversions. Related topics: puzzle games, logic puzzles, lateral thinking puzzles, philosophy, mind benders, brain teasers, word problems, conundrums, 3d puzzles, spatial reasoning, intelligence tests, mathematical diversions, paradoxes, physics problems, reasoning, math, science.


Threading the Pants

I have a pair of shorts (cutoff pants for people who don't know what shorts are) with an elastic waist band. In the front of the pants the waist band is visible and forms a loop through belt, like the strap on a daypack. On either side, the band disappears into the lining of the shorts. Thus, by tightening the band, it keeps my pants up. I'm sure you're all familiar with this "belt" invention, but the point I'd like to make with these pants is that other than the two ends which come together at the front, the belt is entirely within the lining of the pants. Much like the drawstring on a pair of swim trunks, or the drawstring on the hood of a sweatshirt.

"Fascinating insight into your wardrobe," you think, "But this isn't much of a puzzle."

Well here's the problem I ran into. Once, after I ran the pants through the wash, I discovered that one end of the elastic belt had slipped back into the lining. It seemed to disappeared about half way around, and no matter how I squeezed and pulled, I couldn't get it through. If you've ever lost the drawstring of a sweatshirt into the hood, you can imagine my predicament.

Puzzle time: How could I get the end of the waist band to come back out of the lining on the side it belongs? Consider this to be a "real-world" puzzle, your solution must be practical. Incidentally, the solution works on the dreaded sweatshirt hood problem as well.

Extra credit: The lead tag for this puzzle makes reference to an ancient conundrum. What ancient conundrum would that be and how does it connect back to the Grey Labyrinth? Hint: Its solution would not work particularly well here.

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