Forever in blue jeans
It took a long time for my mom to get me into a pair of jeans. I wore dresses and cotton pants almost exclusively when I was younger. Kids at school always asked me why I didn’t wear regular pants. I didn’t think it was really any of their business, and as long as I was wearing something why’d they have to question what I wore on the lower half of my body?
Still, I didn’t like being the only kid on the playground that didn’t wear jeans and eventually asked my mom if she’d buy me a pair.
I looked for jeans that looked like my classmate’s – worn, faded and comfy. Distressed denim wasn’t so much a fad at the time so the only option I had was to buy a new pair and do all the distressing myself. I left the store with my first pair of jeans in my blue plastic bag. It seemed everyone at the mall had a plastic Gap bag in their hand and it felt good to be part of the “jean crowd.”
I decided to wear my new jeans to school the next day with a red flannel shirt tucked in. At the time, flannel felt like the appropriate partner for denim, so I went school dressed like a lumber jack. As soon as I stepped out my front door I felt uncomfortable. The pants were stiff and way too long, so I had to cuff them — four times.
There were two boys – a couple years older than me – who shared the seat across the aisle from me on the way to school. As we exited the bus, I heard them whispering and giggling and tried to ignore it, but one boy tapped my shoulder to get my attention. I turned my head slightly, but not all the way around. I wanted to show them that ,whatever they had to tell me, I could really care less.
“What?” I asked.
“You’ve got something on your butt,” he told me while his friend snickered.
My face went hot but I didn’t react. Boys that age always made butt jokes at girls like me. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of tricking me into thinking that I actually did have something foreign on my behind.
“Whatever,” I told them. They continued giggling as we shuffled off the bus, and I tried to droop my backpack as low as I could to cover my posterior. I moved quickly so they wouldn’t be able to follow and continue to tease me. When I was sure I was in the clear and the boys weren’t behind me, I casually slid the palm of my hand down the rear of my jeans.
Sure enough, I felt something sticky. I speed-walked to the washroom and locked myself in a stall. Luckily I was able to peel the object off the back of my jeans — it was a Junior Mint. I cleaned the spot off a little but there was still a little stain.
It didn’t bother me though. In fact, I kind of liked it.
I also liked the way my now-sloppy cuffs looked and I was pleased to see they were already starting to fray from when I stepped on them. I knew my mom wouldn’t be too thrilled of the condition my new jeans were in after the first day of wear, but I didn’t care. I was falling in love.
Denim used to be a much simpler product. Over the years it has really evolved. The options are endless, compared to back in the day when really the only decision was whether to buy zipper or button-fly. These days we can have any kind of jean (and any kind of wash) imaginable – bootcut, straight leg, “jegging,” cigarette, trouser … it goes on.
But with all the different options comes a higher price tag, not to mention a more shallow relationship with our denim. Isn’t that one of the things that makes denim so cool – that intimacy of knowing where each shred originated? What’s great about having a pair of jeans for years and years is knowing that no tear was deliberate and every stain was a happy accident.