Have you ever tried to wrestle the last piece of candy from the chocolate-smeared fists of a chubby cousin? Or tried to extract a decaying tooth from a tiger? How about corralling 10 5-year olds carrying South African noise makers while hopped up on sugar and caffeine?
If you can at least imagine the above scenarios, then you might be in the neighborhood of what it was like to take my boyfriend dark jeans shopping. Not jeans shopping; dark jeans shopping. There’s a difference.
Jeans shopping is when a man walks into a department store, grabs three pairs off the rack and buys the one that falls at the intersection between cheap and comfortable (i.e. looks the worst). The pants are usually a weird cut and at least two sizes too big so that his “legs have room to move around.” As if he’s going to wear them in the next flag football game.
Dark jeans shopping is when a man walks into a department store with the goal of finding quality pants that are both the correct size and cut to flatter his shape. Oh, and they’re comfortable. And affordable. And if he does “high knees” in the dressing room, all of the seams stay intact.
For some men, this is a fun experience or at the very least a minor task they can complete without supervision. For others, they might as well be a quadriplegic trying to hike Himalayas. My boyfriend is the latter.
Make no mistake about it– I love this about him. I love that he has a “Slap Ya Mama” t-shirt in 80’s yellow and one in kelly green that reads, “Who’s Your Pappa,” both of which he got for free. I love that he would rather hang out in these random t-shirts than having to match the undershirt to the button-down to the belt to the shoes to the man-purse. To me, it’s very masculine.
I just can’t get past his jeans. They’re wide-leg gangster cut, acid washed and have a hole in the crotch that has been resewn so many times the material is starting to disintegrate. Apparently they were nice jeans once upon a time, but as they presently stand, I’m not sure Goodwill would take them.
So after a year of dating, prodding and gentle “suggesting” we made a trip to Bloomingdale’s.
“Hey babe, what size are you?” I asked in front of about 50 racks hung with jeans in every shade, size and cut.
“Uh, I don’t know– I used to be a 33/32 but I’m probably a 36 now.”
Got it, 34 it is.
“What about style?”
“I don’t want them to be too skinny.”
“Oh, I don’t like bootcut either.”
So I won’t show you the tag.
I pulled one pair at random from the rack.
“What about these?”
His face twisted in a grimace.
I put that pair back. I held up another that had nice fading on the legs. “Ok, how about these?”
He marched over to inspect the tag, “nope– I told you I don’t like bootcut.”
“But you have jeans that are bootcut.” That you rarely wear.
“I know, but they’re not comfortable.”
“How do you know you don’t like them until you try them?”
“Because I know! Babe, these are my jeans.”
“Ok, ok, you’re right,” I said, putting them back.
It was clear we were going to work better alone than as a team so we split up, piling different brands, cuts and dark colors onto our arms until we were tripping over inseams.
“Can I help you?” The voice of a flamboyant (and impeccably dressed) angel descended upon us.
“Yes!” I said, a little too enthusiastically. “He’s looking for jeans.”
The angel stared blankly as if he was expecting me to go on. After a few awkward moments he continued with, “Ok, what kind of jeans?”
“Dark ones.” As if that was going to narrow it down.
He looked at my boyfriend for help, but the bf just stared back as clueless as I was.
“Okaaay. What kind of dark jeans?”
“Jeans that fit and look good.” Yes, I realize we have no idea what we’re doing.
Rolling his eyes just a little, the angel set about pulling the most popular brands of dark jeans he thought would fit well (all of which we missed) and then he took them to a dressing room leaving us to carry the remaining bounty ourselves.
When we got to the dressing room, I saw that he’d given us the biggest space available– smart angel.
Without a plan of attack, the bf began pulling on the jeans at random. He would pause for a peacock moment in the mirror, do a couple squats, ask me my opinion, counter my “yay” with a “nay,” or vice versa, and then fling the ones he liked in my lap and those he didn’t into a corner of the room.
After about 20 minutes, I had 10 pairs in my lap that all looked the same. This is when the fun really began.
Each pair was tried on at least three more times, the squats turned into side lunges and eventually high knees, and then there were a couple of fake free throw shots just for kicks. After every pair he’d say the same thing, “I don’t know babe. If a game breaks out, I just, I need to be able to go! You know what I’m saying?”
No. I don’t know what you’re saying. This is not a Nike video. You are not RGIII.
“You’re going to wear these jeans to dinner, not to the Combine. They need to fit you as well as be comfortable. The ones you have on are at least one size too big; so were the ones you tried on before.”
“Ok, will you go get me the right size?”
I ducked out of the dressing room to somehow find the one right pair in a sea of wrong pairs and gave up after about 10 minutes. I grabbed jeans I thought looked similar and got to the dressing room in time to see the bf do a fake dribble around a fake player and put up a fake 3.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“What?” He said with the smile and swagger of a kid who always gets his way.
“How about those? They look good.”
“Yea they’re alright. Let me see those.”
He snatched the replacement pair from my hands and immediately threw them back, “These aren’t the right ones.”
“Then maybe you go grab them instead of finishing you’re one-on-one with the mirror.”
He smiled, took them back, tried them on, then discarded them in the “no” pile.
“So where are we?” I slumped into the one chair, closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead. I was developing a headache.
“I’ve narrowed it down to five and I’m thinking we do a bracket.”
“Sure,” I said without opening my eyes.
For those of you who have never heard of March Madness, a “bracket” in this instance refers to comparing two pairs of jeans against each other, choosing one, and then comparing the winner to the next pair. Ideally, you’re left with a single pair at the end. We were left with two.
“How can I help you make a decision?”
“Which one do you like better?”
I hesitated. If I tell you which ones I really like, are you going to choose the other ones just so it’s “your decision”? Or do you really want my opinion?
After a minute of trying to gauge the brand of poker he was playing, I answered.
“I like the ones you have on.”
“Ok, I’ll get these then.”
“What?! That’s it?”
“Yup. You like these, right?”
“Yea, but I liked them, like, 45 minutes ago. You said you didn’t–” I looked at the carnage around the dressing room and stopped myself. Fuck that if I’m going to do this all over again.
“Ok! Let’s go!”