I’m not much of a clothes guy, but since I have been asked (and by “asked,” I mean “ordered by a judge”) to be fully clothed any time I appear in public, from time to time I have to go shopping.
Last weekend was just such an occasion – I had to buy some new jeans. And, at the risk of sounding like an old fart, I’d like to ask a very simple and very sincere question: What the fuck is up with jeans theses days?
Back in the day, buying jeans was simple. There was one manufacturer – Levi Strauss – and one style – 501s. You’d buy them two inches too long and two inches too big in the waist because you knew they’d shrink like crazy. Plus, they were stiff as a board. In fact, you’d have to ask your mom to wash them a couple of dozen times before you wore them; otherwise, you ran the very real risk of abrading your genitals down to a nub.
Those days are gone. Today, jeans come in a dizzying number of styles from a plethora of manufacturers. And yet, it seems impossible for me to find a pair I’d actually wear.
As I said, I went out last week to buy some new jeans. I was doing so mainly because my wife said I needed them. She didn’t come out and say, “Dear, you need some new jeans,” but I’ve been married to her so long that I can read her like a book. For instance, I’ll put on my favorite pair and she’ll say something subtle, like “Gosh – is it time to mow the lawn again?” or, “Say, that reminds me – I just sent 50 bucks to Clothe the Children,” or perhaps, “So — working undercover at the homeless shelter, are we?”
Anyway, I go to the mall on a quest for denim. Five (OK, maybe 10) years ago, I bought the aforementioned favorite jeans, and they were a thing of beauty — dark blue, no fraying and no holes. If you’re under 30, you’ll just have to take my word for this, but they actually looked new.
I was hoping to buy a similar pair but everything I saw – I swear to god – looked worse than the jeans I was trying to replace. One looked like it had perhaps lined the bottom of a litter box for a year. Another appeared to have been involved in some sort of industrial accident. For a fleeting moment, I thought I was in a Goodwill store in Bangladesh – only no self-respecting Bangladeshi would have been caught dead in these rags.
I have to hand it to marketers — anyone who can convince the jeans-buying public to pay sixty bones for jeans that the Salvation Army would reject is a genius. An evil genius, sure, but a genius just the same. In fact, I bet that when he’s not busy pimping his book or drowning puppies, Karl Rove consults for these guys.
At any rate, I still don’t have any new pants. But I refuse to give up. I’m going out again this weekend, and I don’t care how far I have to go in my quest for a wearable pair of jeans. Does anyone know how to say, “Driver, take me to the nearest Goodwill,” in Hindi?