I was thinking it in my head as hard as I could, “Please don’t come near me, please don’t help me, please don’t help me”…. my mind-meld hasn’t been working very well lately, soooo… he helped me.
“Oh-my-god, you would look SO TIGHT in BANANA!!!!” he sang out to me (and I had to admit he wasn’t bad, he nailed the BA-NA-NA!)
Me: “Um…. excuse me?”
The young man with the name tag “Zappo” (real?, ironic? who can tell anymore?) had noticed me looking over the jeans racks and decided to offer his two cents. I think he genuinly wanted to help me (in an ironic way?), but I quickly realized it wasn’t in the offing– we spoke different languages: I spoke English and he spoke Glee. He looked to be straight out of central casting: early 20’s but could still pass for high school, Asian– with that cool Asian hair that can go a thousand different directions all at the same time and still look hip.
He jumped and clapped and did some little dance move that I was instantly jealous of and continued to sing at me: “OMG……loooook at theeeeze, they are SO HOT!”
I’d come looking for jeans and had clearly taken a wrong turn and landed in the middle of auditions for “Sales Associate, The Musical”
Another jump and a combo clap/spin and he’d moved the both of us 10 feet further down the display rack.
I was stunned. And daunted. Stunned and daunted was I. Trying to look anywhere but at the whirling, dancing dervish and his awesome hair, I glanced towards the ceiling at the huge neon sign that screamed “BUCKLE”. It was about this time I noticed that the floor was thumping– bass filled the air and some echoey, mysterious voice was singing about throbbing (I might have that backwards, maybe the floor was throbbing and the voice was singing about thumping?) Instead of a trip to the mall to hurridly buy some jeans, I’d been transported back to Graffiti’s in 1986– only instead of some gum-snapping girl in acid wash asking me to dance, it was some young Asian man trying to get me to try on a banana. (And I truly thought I’d never in my life feel more awkward than I did at Graffiti’s- ha!)
“Yeah dude, I don’t think these are for me….. they’re, um…. yellow.” (Yes, I called him dude…. stunned, daunted… remember all that?)
“HAHAHAHAHA, omg…. they’re BANANA…. and they’re skinnies…. and they ROCK…. HAHAHAHA”
Two more quick claps and another pretty slick dance move and it was high time for me to get the hell out of Buckle or Muckle or whatever the hell it was and head back out into the mall for greener, or at least less-yellow pastures.
Long gone are the days of just walking into County Seat at Southdale and having to choose between two different kinds of Levi’s. I didn’t have to “shop” for jeans– it was more like picking up take-out– walked in, grabbed a pair off the rack and gave the sales-girl my 29.99 and was on my way. If it was a cute girl from one of the Bloomington schools I might even try on a pair, even though I already knew what I was going to buy. (I might have said Edina or Wayzata girls, but none of them had to have jobs.)
Now it’s just chaos. I counted no less than seven specialty jeans stores at the Park Meadows Mall last week– all of them made me feel like I was walking into a bar at some European boutique hotel. Low light, pounding music and scantily clad women dancing in cages. (Ok, I made one of those up, just sayin’)
“MA MA MA MA MA MA MA Poooooker Face” blared from speakers as two types of affected teenagers swirled around me: those from Glee who danced and welcomed me, and those from Twilight who brooded and shot me “eff off” stares. I was equally intimidated and put off by both of them. Good god, I felt like the creepy math teacher chaperoning the high school dance: old, fat and stupid. Yellow skinny jeans, wtf???
Them: “Uggggghhhhhh, can I hep youuuuuuu?”
Me: “No thanks, just looking….. sweet pop ‘n lock though”
I realized that I didn’t even know how to ask questions in this place… Do you have any jeans that are like…. new? Are they supposed to hang off your ass like that? Does the price go up 40 dollars for every hole they have in them? What’s cooler: a full on hole, or a hole connected by 15 distressed threads? When did I turn 90? Seriously, are they all named after old songs by Cutting Crew? True Religion, 7 for All Mankind, Joe’s Jeans, Diesel, Lucky, Silver, Ezra Fitch, APO, Nudie, Edwin, Chip and Pepper. (Did I really just use the “errr, you dern kids and yer jeans hanging off yer ass line?…. and no, I didn’t make up “Nudie”)
I stare helplessly at these piles of jeans with the same recognition my dad would have reading Lil Wayne lyrics and it seems to me that the music of Lady Ga Ga has been replaced by the Glee cast chorus (the kids working there) serenading me with: “you are stupid. you are old. you have no place here. you’re making us more uncomfortable than we’re making you. just go home and put your sweatpants back on”
The truth is, things began to tip a long time ago– even back when I was still in high school. I remember I was a sophomore and we were all just sitting there in the lunch room in our Levi’s with an odd pair of Lee’s or even Wranglers thrown in, minding our own business (or whatever the complete opposite of that is). Then the needle scratching the record moment: sauntering into the lunch room comes one of the sweet daddies of the school, a senior, star of the hockey team, wearing…. CALVIN KLEIN jeans! Huh? I said HUH? SAY WHAT?
It was, as they say, a game-changer. Oh, there were sniggers ahoy, catcalls, what the H’s…. “what are you supposed to be, Denny Terrio?” haw haw! But it had been tipped, it would stay tipped and there was no looking back. Soon the lunchroom was filled with Guess?, Girbaud and others. There was rolling, pinning, home “distressing” and coming down the pike very quickly was…. acid wash. (Did we give birth to power metal or did power metal give birth to us?)
Years have passed and trends have come and gone faster than Skid Row, but it seems like buying jeans today is a lot like trying to dance at Graffiti’s back in 1986: you’re never gonna get it right, but ultimately nobody really cares. Which leaves just one question:
Do these banana skinnies make my ass look big?