Monday, October 19, 2009

$200 Jeans

Who knew?

Apparently, everyone but Amster and I did.

But now we are initiated, and I wonder if we will ever go back.

Here's how it started: 18 months ago, TBG was recruited to be on a mock jury for one of Amster's trials. He spent a marvelous full day listening to arguments and then participating in deliberations with a real cross-section of Tucson's population. At the end, he was rewarded with many thanks and a crisp, new $50 bill.

He came home to my Harriet Housewife incarnation : chairs were on tables, rugs were rolled up, ottomans were resting on couches as the floor was being mopped to within an inch of its life. The kitchen counters were sparkling, the stainless steel appliances had nary a hand print nor a streak, the fallen french fries had been removed from the oven's floor, the bed linens were fresh and the bathrooms were gleaming. I had been busy, and I looked it. Bedraggled and sweaty, my manicure destroyed, I leaned on the mop handle and said "Hi". Without skipping a beat, my favorite husband reached into his wallet, took out the fifty, and handed it to me with a flourish. "You earned this more than I did, today."

This was the first money I'd earned since the Big Cuter was born 26 years ago. It deserved to be spent wisely. I placed it carefully in the top drawer of my vanity table and began to cogitate.

Laughing with Amster over weights at the gym the next morning, we tested and rejected many uses before we hit upon exactly the right place to spend my windfall - we'd invest in jeans. Our work-outs were going well, our bodies were responding appropriately, and if we waited til our birthdays we could even justify the expenditure as self-gifting (a concept near and dear to my heart). We had a plan.

But by the time winter was ending and our birthdays were arriving, the temperatures here in the desert Southwest precluded the wearing of anything heavier than corduroy shorts. There was no reason to buy the jeans and have them sit in the closet until the weather cooperated with our new purchases, so we waited. And we procrastinated. And we got busy. And life interfered, and with it our shapes changed again. So we hit the weight room with renewed energy this summer and (she) began cross-training and (I) concentrated on aerobics and then the perfect time arrived: my reunion.

I'd decided on the outfit for the event itself, but I'm going to be in New York City for 6 days, and fancy jeans will be the perfect thing to pack. So, off to Loop we went.

We were the only patrons, at first. One salesman, two women and two dressing rooms. Seemed like it would be a quick and easy experience. Not.

I had a vague recollection of the Little Cuter telling me I'd be there for a while, trying on all the brands until I found the perfect pair. "Have fun with it, Mom!" I tried, but it was scary.

Who knew there would be an interview before we were allowed to begin trying them on? Low rise.... mid-rise... boot cut... boyfriend jeans ..... dark wash.... flap-pockets.... whiskering (?!?).... distressed.... stitching.... embroidery..... Amster and I were caught in a fashion tsunami.

Wranglers. Levis. Gap. These were the designers I knew. Simple, single names that didn't confuse me. Did we like 8 for the People, or something like that? I shrugged at Amster, she shrugged at me and then she rescued us by announcing "We don't speak 'cool'". Ted got the hint. He handed us each a stack, and sent us into the dressing rooms to try on and show him every pair, whether we liked them or not.

In and out we trotted, turning, discussing, rejecting, approving, suggesting, questioning and trotting, once again, back into the dressing room for more. And more. And then some more. It never ended. I'd bring out three rejected pairs and be presented with 5 more options. I rolled up my sleeves and I sweated. This was hard work.

I've always let life tear up my jeans, and I don't understand the need to purchase something that is pre-ripped. Like my wrinkles, I've earned every one of the holes in the knees and the seats and I love them all. All the "distressed" options were thus removed from consideration.

Embroidery and obvious stitching were also non-starters. I'm a short person and I was going for a long look; there would be no distractions on these pants. One solid straight line from hips to heels, elongating mightily on the way. Ashleigh Burroughs is tall and willowy with legs that don't stop; the body which will be attending the reunion shares with her literary counterpart only the fact of having legs. I'm taking all the height-help I can get.

Did I want to struggle to latch and unlatch the obviously very cool but impossible to grasp - literally and figuratively- clasp? Did I like the hardware? How did the back pocket look? Were they comfortable? Suddenly, the entire purpose of blue jeans was being called into question -- aren't they supposed to be comfortable by definition ???

But the store was getting crowded and Heather and her boy-toy wanted to check out, so I put off my existential musings. Figuring that Heather had obviously shopped there before, since she was nodding sagely as Ted was pinning and selecting and dismissing and suggesting, her opinion was sought and received and agreed with mine and I bought the damn pants. By that point, I think I'd have agreed with anything just to have it be over with. My brain was awash in a sea of denim.

I'd always worn jeans to blend into the crowd. They go everywhere, here in Tucson and on Madison Avenue. As long as my other garments were sufficient, I never worried if I had blue jeans on the bottom. And my criteria for choosing them were simple - inexpensive and comfy and not ugly. Having spent the better part of an hour being schooled on the finer points of wearing my default clothing, however, I realize that time has definitely passed me by.

I remember taking a 4 year old Little Cuter into our favorite sandwich shop on Webster in Chicago (it's a fancy shoe store now, but that's another story...) and being snickered at by two middle school girls sitting at the first table. "Can you believe she is wearing blue jeans???" "She's so old." I turned and smiled sweetly and told them that I'd been wearing blue jeans since before they were born and that my generation had virtually invented the genre and they were wearing my fashion statement and ....... at that point, if she'd been a few years older, the Little Cuter would have dragged my ranting self away from them. As it was, the tirade sputtered and we ate our tuna.

Now, though, I begin to wonder if jeans have passed me by. People of all sizes, shapes, ages and colors were in and out of the store as we fine tuned our purchases. None of them were surprised at the prices nor at the depth and breadth of the selection. A woman "just back from eating myself across Europe" bought a pair of "fat pants" until she could lose her vacation weight. $200 fat pants? What ever happened to sweatpants and the gym? Somehow I don't believe in her determination to slim down. Or maybe she has a range of sizes of expensive jeans?

Expensive jeans. It even looks oxymoronic. What happened to me?? Where is the grounded, sane woman who knows value and refuses to be swayed by the tides of fashion? I'm lost, I fear, lost and drowning in .....

Oh, enough already. All that is true, but I just picked them up and tried them on I have to say that they look pretty good.

Yes, G'ma would be appalled, but THAT's the view you get. Because, as Ted reminded us, "It's all about the butt."


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