My favorite jeans became disreputable approximately one year ago. One week ago, 50 weeks after they had moved from faded-but-tidy to holey-and-disreputable, two separate incidents forced me to recognize the end may have come for the favorite jeans.
Incident 1: Mel and I were scoring targets at the archery range. I held the clipboard with the score sheet, pencil poised. Mel said nothing. I waited. Still nothing. I glanced up. Mel was looking at my jeans. Or rather, he was looking at the holes. Each knee was exposed, with rips running about 5 or 6 inches north and south of the rip epicenters. In that area of my pants, there weren’t so much pants as knees with flaps of pants framing them. “Looks like you’re falling out of your jeans there,” Mel gestured at the place where my jeans should be in case I wasn’t aware of the areas of offense. “Huh,” I said. I cavalierly dismissed his concerns because Mel is Methuselah and may have conservative notions of appropriate attire.
Incident 2: The WideEyedSpouse and I were selecting new spectacles at the Optician. Expensive process. We take our time. Try on everything. And why not? I thought I looked cute as a button in my Joan of Arctics, little blue blazer and favorite jeans. The Spouse said to me, “Man, you really need a new pair of jeans.” I peered at him through the Kate Spade frames I was trying out. I opened my mouth to say something rude but the Optician from across the room beat me to it, “Yeah,” he agreed with The Spouse, “when they get that bad you have to be careful about bending over in public.”
Slumped on the sofa with a glass of wine that evening I picked at the fringes of denim along the tears in my jeans. I thought about all the places, all the countries we’d been to together. Reviewed all the really fantastic outfits we’d made together. I’d given professional papers in these jeans. Taught in them. Worn them for uncountable hours of research and writing. Flip flopped through summers in them.
I am now wearing a new pair of jeans. They are awkward and stiff. I look like someone else in them. I feel like I am wearing someone else’s pants. The waist feels funny. It is distressing and I keep thinking about my favorite jeans, washed and carefully folded in the bottom of the pants drawer of my bureau. Are they lonely in there? Will the new jeans gloat about our forthcoming adventures? I want to go put them on. But I can’t, I mustn’t. The much loved, favorite jeans can only be worn in memory now.