Skinny Jeans and Old Age

There are things I miss about being younger – chiefly the ability to pull all-nighters and keep working and working well; and being smiled at by girls I didn’t know who thought I was cute; and I wish I had the eyesight I had even five years ago… but that stuff feels pretty trivial. I’m happier than I’ve been at any time in my life these days.

Neil Gaiman

It started during this last extended trip to Spain. The Spanish have lunch at 2PM. It is difficult to find an open table at any restaurant at that time. We found out that by 3:30 the crowds thin out, so this is when we timed it to arrive at the establishment that we had chosen. They expect you to order a drink right after you are seated, and it is very unusual for them to give you a menu any sooner than a half hour later. Lunches are hearty affairs: most people eat a couple of tapas late in the evening and call it a day.

Being old, or older, we find it impossible to stay awake beyond 9PM. At that time none of us was hungry, so we went to bed without the evening tapas that Spanish people consume. Unbeknown to us, we were complying with the requirements of the 17-hour intermittent fasting regimen that has become so popular of late. Phyllis was the first to notice that she was losing weight. After a few weeks of her telling me that this was happening, I began to drop some pounds, or more accurately stated, kilos.

We have followed this routine since we came back. She has lost 23 pounds; I have lost 16. She looks great. I feel as if I look the same. That being said, I decided that some sort of celebration was indicated. I headed to the Nordstrom Rack store to buy myself something.

We go nowhere fancy any more. We downsized our closet space to less than half of what it used to hold. I have not worn a pair of shoes (other than sneakers) in months. I headed for the blue jeans counter.

It had been a long time. I bought four pairs of jeans. Not the blue kind: Lucky brand has gray and beige colors that try to fool you into thinking that you are wearing a pair of dress pants. I tried them on, and I was delighted to find out that I could pull them on without struggling. I wore them right away, and I warned Phyllis not to dry them, just in case they would shrink (In Málaga few people use a clothes dryer. It consumes power, it costs money to buy one, and few residential buildings are equipped to handle the exhaust. People use clothes lines and four-legged creatures that hold the larger items. They fold and unfold easily).

Four weeks went by. A few days ago, when I got home from work (Yes; I am back to work for a while. More on that at another time.) Phyllis made a comment:

“Those jeans are swimming on you.”

What do you mean?

I knew darn well what she meant. I had been pulling my pants up all day. Sometimes we do this: we ask a stupid question so that we can have more time to process what our loved one has told us.

“They are too big on you.”

I just bought them.

Again, a senseless statement. I had to process my reality. I had spent money on jeans that did not fit me well. Men do this. They are so relieved that their pant size has not increased, that they do not bother to check how well their purchase hugs their butts. It would be a rare occurrence to have a man make a comment about how his new jeans make his butt look good.

Women, on the other hand… Women will not buy anything that does not fit snugly against their glutei. No matter how comfortable it feels. It’s a thing.

I was embarrassed. I had made a bad purchase. Even if these pants came from the discount store, it felt like a failure. It is a sad reflection on my psyche that I do not tolerate my failures well. I had to find a fix for my incompetence.

Today I had a few extra minutes. I headed back to the Rack store and went straight for the Lucky Jeans table. I found Size 33 jeans, a drop of one from my usual size. I was able to get into them without difficulty. I bought two pairs.

I had to share my success with Phyllis. I called her from the parking lot.

I found Size 33 jeans. I fit into them.

“That is great! Congratulations!”

There is a problem.

She waited for me to continue.

There were two pairs of jeans in the changing room. The expensive kind: the ones that cost a hundred dollars on sale. Also, a Size 33. I was tempted. I tried one of them on. I could not get them past my knees.

I heard uproarious laughter coming from the other end.

Why do you laugh?

“That happens. Were they, by any chance, labeled “skinny?”


More uninhibited laughter.

What is so funny?

“There is nothing wrong. You just do not have the body build that it takes to fit into skinny jeans.”

Is there a problem with my body build?

More laughter. I did not sign up to be the source of her merriment today. I am a bit miffed.

“No; no problem at all. I run into this all the time. It is a different brand; some brands fit me better than others.”

I do not understand. I can see if they were a bit tighter, but these were different in the extreme. How can they get away with telling us this is a Size 33? Why are these things not standardized?

“They are skinny jeans. They make them that way. Now you know to stay away from them.”

I still think this mislabeling should not be allowed. There should be a law.

“The new president has been busy with the pandemic, and unemployment, and his many Republican enemies. I doubt that skinny jeans are on the agenda.”

As happens all too often, I must cave in to her logic.

We sold our downtown apartment. We have moved into a smaller place. It used to be owned by a couple in their nineties. Not much in the way of remodeling has taken place here for the last two decades.

The master bathroom is equipped with a huge mirror that faces you as you walk in. There are also two large mirrors in front of each sink, and a full-length one facing the tub. I am old. I look at myself in the mirror when I shave each morning. Maybe once a week when I comb what little hair I have left. That is it.

I decided to look in the mirror as I went in to take a shower.

Phyllis is right. I do not have the right body build to wear skinny jeans. I do not have a body build at all. There are segments of flesh that are loosely, and I mean loosely, arranged in some sort of semblance to a body. It is not something that Rubens would have wanted to paint.

I spoke to Phyllis.

Those mirrors must go. We are redoing the bathroom.

She gave me one of her looks.

Something more contemporary. Leave just a small mirror so I can shave. It will look nicer.

She nodded. We will start the job as soon as possible.

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