After yesterday’s disappointing search for a new pair of jeans, I woke up today with a renewed sense of vision and hope. I thought, This is possible. I’ve bought jeans before. I can buy them again. So after breakfast and yoga, I ran a couple errands, parked my car outside Central Mall, and thought, Fort Smith, don’t fail me now. Well, I quickly discovered that stretchy jeans have become a serious thing. Like, they’re the new bell bottoms, or whatever. Everywhere I went, it was stretch this, flex that. I’m surprised each pair didn’t come with a gym membership. So–even though I admittedly have a bad attitude about stretchy jeans–I actually tried some on.
Well, nothing even came close because–again–small ankles, big butt. (Emphasis on the big butt.) Well, one pair did come close–my thighs looked great–but there was a big wrinkle right across my crotch. It was like one of those huge speed bumps in the middle of an otherwise perfectly inviting road. I thought, Oh no, this won’t do. This won’t do at all.
Before I go any further, I should say that I’m a fashion snob. My therapist says it’s okay to admit it–I’m vain. I mean, I’m not above wearing certain brands, like the ones sold at Walmart, but I’m above wearing certain brands, like the ones sold at Walmart. Mostly I get something in my head and go out looking for that. Like, I know Buffalo jeans fit me really well–I’m familiar with them. I like how the pockets look just so. Maybe it sounds like vanity to you, but I like to think of it as having standards. So I guess I shop with certain expectations.
My friend George says an expectation is a frustration in the making, and boy is he right. By the time I got to American Eagle, the last place on my list, I didn’t see a single pair of non-flex (regular) jeans anywhere in the damn store. When a lady asked if she could help me, I said, “Do ALL your jeans stretch?” and she said, “Yes. They’re what EVERYBODY wants.” Well, everyone has their breaking point, so I said, “Well not EVERYBODY wants them because I don’t.” Granted, I realize I’m probably too old to be shopping at American Eagle, but I almost called her a whippersnapper and said, “And why are there so many SKINNY JEANS? Don’t fat thighs matter anymore?”
Fat. Thighs. Matter.
Totally pissed at this point, I left the mall and tried to talk myself down off the ledge. You don’t HAVE to have a new pair of jeans for your birthday, Marcus. Okay, just breathe. Well, I finally decided to lower my standards and shop for pants at Target. Don’t tell the internet. (Whoops.) And get this shit. I found a pair I actually liked. I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but they’re Levi’s–AND THEY STRETCH. Talk about eating humble pie, which–of course–is okay because now my pants will accommodate the extra calories. That’s right, I’m admitting it in front of God and everybody. I’m okay with stretchy jeans, at least I think I am. I’ll try them out next week. But apparently I just needed to find the right pair.
I hate it when I’m wrong.
This afternoon before The Great Jean Search of 2017, I ran into my friend Missy, who runs the Young Actors Guild, and she said they were putting on a show in at the King Opera House in Van Buren this weekend. So when I finished at Target, I looked at the clock and thought, I can just make it. Well–get this–when I went to buy my ticket, the lady behind the counter said she was buying it for me. Turns out, we’re friends and she reads the blog. Her name is Kim. It just took me a second to make the connection. (You know how it is when you see someone out of context.) Anyway, it completely made my day, especially after all the denim drama at the mall.
The show tonight was called Uncle Pirate and was about a young boy who’s being bullied at school and is pretty much afraid of his own shadow. As luck would have it, he has a long-lost uncle who’s an honest-to-goodness pirate. Having recently lost his ship and all his crew, Uncle Pirate shows up for a family visit, and he and the boy end up saving each other. It’s adorable. Also, I couldn’t tell for sure, but I think most the kids on stage had stretchy jeans, so I both blame and thank them for what I went through today.
One of the themes in Uncle Pirate has to do with fear. When the boy tells his uncle that he’s afraid of the bully at school, his uncle says something like, “Half the time, being afraid of something only makes you more afraid.” In other words, we often use fear as an excuse to NOT do something, and that just makes matters worse. But when we “feel the fear and do it anyway,” we better solve our problems and gain courage in the process.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but whenever I like I song, I play it over and over. Well, today’s song was “Take Me Home” by Cash Cash. There’s a line in the song that says, “But I still stay because you’re the only thing I know.” Honestly, if you listen to the rest of the words, it doesn’t sound like the singer is in a good relationship, but she stays because it’s familiar. At least, that’s my take on it, and I’ve been thinking today that I’ve been there. I’ve stuck it out longer than I should have because I didn’t know a better way. I assume this is true for all of us.
As my friend Suzanne says, “You can’t know what you don’t know.”
I’ve heard that the ego can’t see what it will stand to gain, only what it will stand to lose. I take this to mean that our fears only show us one side of the story. It’s a little thing, but as I was shopping for jeans today, I was only thinking about what wouldn’t go well, how terrible stretchy pants would be. But when I bit the bullet and tried something new, it actually worked out. On a much grander scale, I remember being in a miserable (miserable) relationship several years ago and being afraid of ending it, but I did. Then I was so sad and afraid of what would happen next that I didn’t think things would ever get better. But they did. I ran into my friend Ashley at the mall today, the topic came up, and she said, “You’re so much happier now.”
So once again, I’m learning that a lot of my fears are full of crap. Also, life doesn’t always suck–it’s pretty good sometimes. So whether it’s a new pair of pants, the unexpected gift of a ticket to see a show, or even a miserable relationship that ends up being the motivation you need to get some damn standards, I’m reminded that life is kinder than I previously thought it was. Also, in this moment, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Quotes from CoCo
"If another's perspective, another's story about you is kinder than the one you're telling yourself, surely that's a story worth listening to."