I promised that my next blog would be about jeans, and I am nothing if not reliable. So here it is: three stories about pairs of jeans.
1. Get Out of My Pants!
When I was in the ninth grade I had a pair of jeans that had belonged to my Aunt Susan in the early seventies. They were bellbottoms with holes in both knees and a large hole at the thigh that had been mended with a yellow and orange mushroom patch. I loved these jeans more than anything.
Although the stores were starting to sell “wide-leg” jeans, it was impossible to get authentic bellbottoms, which was what I thought I looked best in, so I wore my aunt’s jeans at least three times a week. I wore them with a tie-dyed t-shirt or with a seventies leather jacket I’d gotten from a thrift store. I was wearing them when I had my first real kiss, and I was wearing them the day I met Nikki, who would become one of my lifelong friends.
Since the jeans were so old, the fabric was super thin and soft, and soon new holes began to develop. I patched up some of them – like the ones in the butt area – but I just let the knee holes get bigger and bigger. “Air-conditioner pants,” I joked.
My mom did not like the pants. She thought they were too old and ratty, and perhaps that I looked like a street urchin. One day, I couldn’t find my jeans. I went into my mom’s room to look for them and saw them in the trash can. I quickly snatched them out, brushed them off, and put them on.
One day, I was wearing my jeans in English class when we had to push our desks into groups of four to work on a project. Rob J., the boy sitting across from me, stretched out his legs under the desks, and his foot went directly into the giant hole in the knee of my jeans.
“Ahh!” I yelled. “Get out of my pants!”
“Oh, sorry.” He tried to withdraw his leg, and I heard the sound of fabric ripping.
“Stop!” I yelled! “Your ripping it!”
Everyone in the room was staring at us.
“Eva?” the teacher asked. “What’s going on?”
“Rob’s foot is stuck in my pants,” I said, trying to remain calm.
Rob’s face had turned the color of a tomato.
“Just pull it out gently,” I told him.
Rob turned his ankle to one side and managed to shimmy his foot out of my jeans.
That’s how one of the knee holes got even bigger.
2. Wide Legs
At some point I finally had to stop wearing the holey jeans because they were becoming more patch than pant. I gave them to my brother and asked him to make me a skirt using pieces of the old jeans. My brother happens to be an excellent seamster (I guess that’s what you say instead of seamstress), but he never did make me the skirt because Deven doesn’t like it when other people tell him what to do.
Around the time that I was falling in love with my aunt’s seventies jeans, Deven was falling in love with JNCO Jeans, the extremely wide-legged and impractical skater pants. He was in the sixth grade, and my mother had bought him one pair. When he asked for another, she put her foot down. Not only were they expensive, she said, they looked incredibly stupid.
But, just like me, my brother was not going to let my mother get in the way of his fashion. He pulled out some fabric from my mom’s craft box and set up the old sewing machine. He had never used it before, but he was good with machines and had soon figured it out on his own. Then he studied his one pair of JNCO’s carefully, cut out a pattern, and sewed himself some wide-legged pants.
The first pair was pretty rough, but Deven made himself another pair, and then another. He started to get good at making pants. He asked for a sewing machine for Christmas and denim fabric for his birthday. Our grandmothers were both elated. I had never really latched onto sewing, so now they could bond with Deven about threads and bobbins. (I don’t even know what bobbins are, but I know they have something to do with sewing.)
Deven started making himself some pretty decent jeans. They were like JNCO’s, with the absurdly wide legs and large back pockets. (Deven used to like to brag that he could fit his head in the bottom opening of his jeans.) He embroidered his own label on the back pockets and called them “Dublin” jeans. He also started working at a silk-screen shop and silk-screened his own t-shirts with designs he’d drawn, so by the time he was in the eighth grade, my brother’s wardrobe consisted of entirely his own handmade clothing.
Deven also started selling his jeans online, and he had a few buyers. In fact, I googled Dublin jeans today and found that it is still listed as a company, with our old home address as the company location. Deven made me a pair of black Dublin jeans that I wore to school sometimes, when I wasn’t wearing my aunt’s holey jeans.
My family and I all thought that Deven was going to become a fashion designer. But, when he got into high school, he stopped sewing jeans. Just like that. He had a job and could buy his own wide-leg jeans at the store. The homemade jeans phase had been, apparently, a necessity and not a passion.
Deven is not the only man in my life who knows his way around a sewing machine. The other day my boyfriend, Paul, got out grandmother’s ancient, hundred-pound German sewing machine to sew a patch onto his jeans. He has been wearing the same pair of jeans at least four times a week ever since I met him. They are completely falling apart, and yet he will not buy another pair – out of weirdness, laziness, cheapness, or some combination of all three.
I don’t mind this, of course. I understand that we all have strange connections to our favorite pair of jeans. I can’t fault him for wearing a pair of jeans that are becoming more patch than pants.
But it should be noted that the majority of the patches are in the butt and crotch area, which looks a little weird.
Anyway, I was half-watching Paul sew on the patch. The thread kept bunching up into knots, and he kept cursing under his breathe and adjusting things on the sewing machine. (Perhaps the bobbins?)
Finally, the patch was on. “Ta-dah!” he said. “Do you like how I patched my pants?”
“That’s wonderful,” I said. “But do you maybe want to go buy some new ones sometime?”
“No, these are fine,” he said.
He tried to step into one leg. But he couldn’t. Because as he’d sewn the patch into the crotch, he’d also accidentally sewn one of the legs together.
“Oh crap,” he said. He shoved his foot into the pant-leg, much like Rob J. had shoved his foot into my pants oh-so-many years ago. Again, there was the sound of ripping fabric.
And then his leg was in the jeans, and there was another large hole in the thigh of his pants, below the front pocket.
“Are you going to wear those to brunch?” I asked.
“Yep,” he said proudly.
He’s probably going to wear them for forever. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t come between people and their jeans.