Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Faded Jeans Blues

Have you ever loved a pair of blue jeans? Whether they be Levi's or some designer label, stone-washed or acid-washed, boot-cut or bell-bottom? You know, just an incredibly comfortable, worn-forever pair of blue jeans?

I just had to part ways with a pair that I've worn literally into rags. It was hard to do. They were just so danged comfortable, so familiar, so dependable.

It takes a while to get jeans "broken in" so that they fit like they were created from whole cloth just for you. These jeans qualified. They were comfortable, well-broken-in, and pulling them out of the dryer while folding laundry felt like opening the door and seeing a long-lost friend.

Whenever I would look in the bottom drawer of my dresser for pants, if they were there -- even on the bottom of the pile -- I would dig them out without a second thought. If I was playing on a worship team at a church, there might be a brief hesitation, but 99% of the time, they got worn anyway.

They were getting pretty thread-bare, by now. Holes in the knees had been followed by holes in the thighs. These holes eventually began to not only get larger, but conspired together to grow towards each other. The cuffs were hopelessly frayed from countless times of scuffling along the ground. The pockets -- once trust-worthy repositories for coins, guitar picks, and a flash drive -- began to betray my faith in them by developing escape routes for valuables.

The belt loop where I always clipped my car keys with a biner (pronounced "beener") was now only attached at one end, and had become merely an impotent reminder of its former useful self.

Clearly, it was time to send these once-functional, well-loved friends to the Great Denim Warehouse In The Sky. Yet, it proved more difficult than I first anticipated. Familiarity, and a sense of shared history, when combined with many good memories of times past, can make it difficult to do what should be obvious.

Sure, these faded, worn-and-torn, ripped up blue jeans were hardly even functional by this point, but they were comfortable, familiar, and getting rid of them would mean starting all over with a new, unbroken-in, unfamiliar pair. It was surprising how tenacious the desire to just keep wearing them was.

Finally came the day when I pulled them from the dryer, glanced at the inside, and saw (A) that the back pocket had obviously had a "falling out" with the rest of the leg, meaning my butt would be unceremoniously exposed, and (B) the crotch was about to go at any second, and I'm just not young & hip enough to wear some crazy boxers underneath these rips as if it were actually stylish.

So, facing the inevitable, yet not without a twinge of remorse and nostalgia, I wadded my denim companion into as tight a ball as possible, and slam-dunked the faded and tattered remains into the garbage can that resides benignly under our kitchen sink. Farewell, good and faithful steed.

Well, what do you think?

Is this story a metaphor for something else, or am I really just writing about an old pair of jeans?


  1. ...the parable of the tattered blue jeans...

    Sounds like the beginning of the "Gospel According to Levi's"...

  2. As somebody who has recently had to get used to leaving his trusty old, holey old, well-worn and worn-out leather jacket hanging up (haven't yet disposed of it though) I'm definitely inclined to just read this one as it is and not metaphorically.

    Although, now you mention it...

  3. Hmmm...

    Or there is the person who ditches their jeans at the first sign of a flaw.

    Or the person who never really attaches to a pair of jeans.

    Or the person who has many different favorite jeans, each loved for a different reason.

    And don't even get me started on the people who only wear khaki.

    Sorry you lost your faves. Great writing (as usual).

  4. So now that you have to shop for new jeans, do you look for something as close as possible to the old favorites, or is it time to launch out into a new expression of denim-ness?

    Of course, you have to be careful because some jeans bring out the best in a person, while others can be really unflattering.

    Good luck in finding a pair that will grow into a good fit for you.

    I think that's all I have to say about jeans. ;)

  5. hehe...grace and robby, the great jeans parable tellers.

    good stuff, except that you could have recycled that denim... but where would THAT have left your parable? ;)

  6. okay, just a couple more thoughts...

    I really hate it when a perfectly good pair of jeans gets ruined prematurely.

    Makeesha, speaking of recycling, ever since my kids were little, I took their old jeans that couldn't be passed on and cut squares from them, thinking that maybe someday I could take all these pieces from jeans we've worn and have them become a part of making something new, like a quilt.

  7. I've always thought that was a great idea, taking pieces from the kiddos clothes and making a quilt - - I'd have to hire someone to make it though since I don't quilt...or sew, or cook....hehe

  8. I've stockpiled materials collected from old, unwearable faves. I never did make the quilt though. Someday... someday...

    ~Andrea B.

    P.S. Hope you find another pair that you eventually like just as much, Rob. *hugs* :-D

  9. recylcle, hmmm, denim thongs are the future???

    i vote for a story of a man and his trusty jeans, i've got a few pairs like that which my wife is always conspiring to put to an early than naturak denimise...

  10. Why wait and do all of the work to have that worn in, lived in and loved look? Don't despair! Act now! You can actually BUY them that way - holes, frayed cuffs, faded, and almost already ready for that Great Denim Warehouse in the Sky.

    No one has to know that the relationship between you and your jeans isn't born out of shared memories and lots of quality time together. :^)

  11. Though, it won't be the same...

  12. I'm betting its a metaphor...I'm on to you McRob.

  13. Hey Rob,
    I'm hoping it's just a story, metaphors have wrecked so many good stories. Relating comfy jeans to church life? What a great way to ruin my opinion of a trusty pair of jeans.

    p.s. Come visit some time.

  14. Metaphors aside,
    The quilt idea is a good one, and I actually did it with squares cut from remants left over from sewing clothing for myself in college, including a few squares from the bridesmaid outfit I sewed for my sister to wear. Lots of memories.

    I once went to a workshop where they were making paper - yes, paper - out of old jeans. That could be a group project for your DTS students :)


  15. I too have my keys fastened to a handy carbiner, but I keep it in my pocket because I have not found a pair of jeans I trust so much as to hang my keys from their loop.

    True or metaphor?

    "They shiver with doubts that were left unattended then they toss away the cloak that they should have mended" - Steve Taylor, "Harder To Believe Than Not To"

    Oh and it was a gift from a friend who also received it for free...from Mountain Dew!

  16. Sometimes...

    a pair of jeans...

    is just a pair of jeans.

    This was, in fact, just a story about a pair of Levi's, whose time had come last week.

    But now that some of you have jumped on the metaphor bandwagon, you've gone and got me thinking. Perhaps I'll need to do another Laundry post to explore just a bit...

  17. Oh, and I really should mention that my wife Wendy made a duvet (doo-VAY) cover out of our kids' old jeans. My teenaged son loves it.

    Although it's kinda funny to see so many back pockets and brand names on a duvet cover!