Yesterday When I Bought Skinny Jeans

(Zambones is out today so Jordan will post)

Jorge said they were “tapered”. He was a nice kid, probably just shy of 21. I had been on my way out of the store and it was his one last effort to help me find some jeans.

They were certainly tapered. They bagged on top and hugged the calfs.  Looking in the mirror, I thought…cool (?) They definitely were a smile. Another clerk passed us with a stack of shirts and a  Chesire grin. I was at the shop at Levi’s World Central in San Francisco. Levi’s invented work clothes for gods sake. There must be some reason for this shape. This was a cool throwback to something that I just didn’t quite get because I wasn’t privy to all the archives and, stuff. The dressing room itself was built of redolent  raw pine, I propped my foot on a freshly chopped log and breathed it in.

I would blaze a new trail with these, like the guy on the video monitor above me shaping surfboards.

I left the store walking north towards the ocean. I could feel that denim wrapping my legs. Coeds on spring break passed me, doing a doubletake, diggin’ my style. They were from Ohio and they were checking out raw San Franciscan iconoclasm.I could see these jeans going everywhere with me. They’d  become my signature risk. Today would prove to be like the day Tom Wolfe first wore that white suit that he’d go on to wear every single day.  This was what Cailfornia, Levi’s, and everything was about, individualism.

I caught my reflection squarely in the window of a tourist store selling T- Shirts, “Never a Dull Memento”. I saw a man with chicken legs and shoes like canoes. I paused, against my will, and looked. I was wearing skinny jeans. My puffy parka and skinny jeans made me an ostrich. A clown. A buffoon tricked by his own misperceptions.

Moments later I’m running,  I’m gasping out this plea over and over to anyone within earshot, “help me, help me, I bought skinny jeans, someone…someone help me….” I’m averting my eyes when I pass my reflection which is every cruel second. I turn to get away from the reflection and lose my way back to the store. I am a man wearing skinny jeans and I am lost. I am running and muttering this same plea over and over . Jesus get me to Levi’s Plaza. Two women in black  pass me and wrinkle their brows at the sight of mumbling crazy guy in skinny jeans. Christ I was just there, where is it?

But then I pause. Am I overreacting? I look again in a window.

No I am not.  I start running again. I dreaded dissapointing Jorge because I dread dissapointing people more than anything else. So much so that sometimes I do it on purpose just to see what it’s like because I never do it, but I really I fear it.  As I speedwalked the last block I made sure I had the reciept and braced myself. I had sweat through my shirt.

No Jorge. On break. Yes! I could do this. His relief was an asian girl who I told feverishly. “501’s, please, exchange, 34/30”

“Hi can I help you?” She said warmly, slowly. I repeated it.

“Okay. Are you a true 34?”

“What? They should be already pulled. Iwas just here…I got these, jeans.”

“Okay, but are you a true 34 because they shrink.”

“Yes yes I know, just please, yes 34.”  I looked around warily.

She was right. The 34’s were like a house around my hips, I asked for the 33’s and waited nervously in  the damn pine box.  I put them on, said I’d wear them out and headed to the register. Just then Jorge popped through the front door rolling coardboard boxes on a dolly. “Hey, you’re back!” he said smiling. He didn’t care. He happily went-a-shelving some new bags with a co-worker. They were laughing because they couldn’t tell if they were baby slings or messenger bags.

***

Later I walked the same blocks with the 501’s. The familiar shape. That odd new denim smell  like soil and iodine.  The last time I got the unwashed Shrink-to-Fits I was 14. I took a shower with them on. I had another plan today.

I stopped and looked into the glass of a cafe. I bent down and carefully made a cuff. About an inch and a half. I wanted to be careful as this would be the crease, forever. You shouldn’t do something like that lightly. After a few washes it’d be harder to change  that crease than my personality.

I took off my shoes, shirt. After two jumps in the bay I lay on the sand outside the South End wrapped in a grey wool blanket, my head on the sand. I could feel them start to mold around my shape. An old guy took out a solo row boat, carefully he oared himself backward out into the bay, looking behind him, and soon disappeared.

Nothing’s important. Everything’s important.

Now they’ve dried, but are still crisp, rigid. They fit. I need clothes to be a mirror of the way I want to feel in the world, like I fit perfectly. I know not everyone needs this.

But these hang right. I could wear these in my own pine box.

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