Friday, January 3, 2014

Epiphany #2

Two days ago:  Among the guests at our house, there is a young, teenage girl whom I am teasing about her jeans.  "You know," I tell her, "my wife has denim patches.  She could fix all of those holes in your jeans."  The girl has on stylish, probably new for Christmas jeans with carefully-chosen threadbare spots all over the pant legs.

Yesterday:  As we head out to lunch, I am reaching for a coat in the closet and hear a slight tear from behind.  I reach back to my butt and remember that these are the jeans with the tear in the ass.  They are old, worn out, very light blue in color.  

"Is that tear in the back noticeable?" I ask my daughter.  
"Yes, Dad.  You're not wearing those.  Go change."  
I ask, "What if I pull my shirt down lower?"  
I've shortened the back and forth of the conversation.  I change.

Yesterday, I was wearing blue boxers with a sailboat on them.  Quite friendly, actually.  Not obscene at all.  Some jean tears are fashionable; some are unacceptable.  Age? gender? Tear placement?  Sailboat boxers?  Such a confusing world!

My family makes fun of me for wearing jeans that are "almost white."  They bought me a pair of very dark ones, which I suppose I will wear only until they are not dark enough.

Back in the 70's, I came by my jeans honestly.  My friend Adam and I would walk down to Kaufman's department store to buy our brand new bell bottom jeans.  They were Levi's.  When brand new, they were blue as night and stiff as a plaster cast.  They wouldn't be worth anything for weeks.  We had to wear them and wear them and wear them, and have our mothers wash them and wash them, and sometimes we'd put them on wet out of the washer so that they would dry to our skin.  

It would be months or more before we had them the way we wanted them--faded, comfortable and soft, worn on the bottom cuffs from dragging on the ground.  The "sweet spot" for jeans came when they were well-worn, but not yet beginning to split at the knee or fray on the thigh.  But jeans also lived an entire life, and we loved them throughout that life--from the new store smell to the begging our suburban mothers not to toss them in the trash when they were all but falling apart.

I can't shake that mentality.  And the older I get, the more it seems to apply to everything--my 13 and 1/2 year old car, an iron skillet that I dropped and the handle broke off of, a favorite pullover fleece I wear most every day of every fall or winter weekend or holiday, all the stuff I live with.  If I get something new, I want to be able to use it for a long, long time, which is why I'm nursing an "old" phone and an older iPod.

Seems to me that if you don't live the full life of things alongside your own life, you lose the reminders of what they once were when new, what they went through, how they survived to get here now.  I am not interested in getting a pair of jeans or anything else in their most desirable state, which they will quickly pass out of and then be cast aside.  I want to live with them, age with them.


Billy said...

Being fashionable requires the loss of significant brain cells, or at least the ability to ignore all rules of logic and reason.

troutking said...

My 15 year old car and I are with you. Unless something breaks and becomes absolutely unusable, I'm keeping it. That's why I buy shirts on eBay now--already broken in, plus you can get J.Crew or Banana Republic for 10-15 bucks. Also, of course, Jerry has addressed this subject:

Jerry Seinfeld
"Men wear their underwear until it absolutely disintegrates. Men hang on to underwear until, until each individual underwear molecule is so strained it can barely retain the properties of a solid. It actually becomes underwear vapor. W-we don't even throw it out, we just open a window and it goes out like dandelion spores. That's how men throw out underwear we just go (blows on the mic) and it's gone."