When I told one of my dear friends that I was going denim shopping, she let out a bit of a little-girl-squee, and then pouted for a minute when she learned I wasn’t taking her along for the ride.
“This is what I do” she declared, “You have no idea how important the right pair of jeans is.”
“I am not a denim person, don’t wear it often – maybe once a month, had maybe three pairs in 15 years, and I won’t let it become a big deal,” I reasoned. I declared my intentions to shop at a relatively normal department store before being convinced by this friend and a couple of others that I really needed to try Anonymous Fancy Denim Place.
A week or so later I wandered into AFDP and my bullshit sense immediately started tingling as an Extremely Attractive Red-Headed woman headed my way with a cheery “Good afternoon, sir.”
There are few times when the really beautiful people face discrimination for the genetic accident of good looks. When I enter a restaurant or retail organization and everyone is preternaturally haawwt, I assume the collective to be less qualified for their jobs because the applicant pool was so restricted.
“Good afternoon” I replied to the woman who could boil water just by looking at the glass. “I need to buy a pair of jeans” I stated to demonstrate my talent for declarations of the obvious.
“It would be my pleasure to help; would you like to have a seat so we can discuss what you’re looking for?” EARH asked while motioning towards two post-mod chairs with distressed leather finish.
As we took our seats, it felt more like a date at some coolly elegant lounge – which is, I think as the designers and managers intended – when another genetically fortunate person came over to offer me “cocktail, cappuccino, bottled water?”
My bullshit sense was now in overdrive.
I liked the fact that EARH didn’t make suggestions but just asked questions – what kind of fit, what kind of color, how did I feel about the pockets, how do I wear jeans?
“As loose as is reasonable, normal jean color, standard five pockets, and infrequently but most often with a sport coat and a collared shirt or sweater” were my answers. I added in the fact that I wear suits most days and really don’t like any trousers that fit more snugly than the ones in my suits.
After a bit more conversation, EARH declared that she was “ready to assemble a palette for me.”
I had a strong desire to explain that unless there was painting, or warehouse wooden flats were involved, she was misusing the word… but refrained mostly because pretense in response to precious is a vicious cycle.
After a few minutes, I was led into a fitting room and given instructions to don each pair and then come to the mirror for feedback. On one of this fitting room’s three shelves sat five pairs of jeans. The first pair was hipster tight to the extent that I saw no value in emerging from the dressing room to offer my feedback or get theirs. The second and third pairs were still too fitted for my taste but closer to my thoughts so I go out to the mirrors to explain.
There were the expected “those look good on you” comments before I explained my discomfort.
“I don’t like the look or feeling of tight trousers on me, and both of these pairs we’re too tight for my taste” I tried to explain.
“All of those are either relaxed or loose fit, and they’re tighter than I expected” EARH said before fumbling a bit to recover from “tighter than expected” as unintended dig.
“Styles have gotten much slimmer over the last ten years, but my tastes haven’t. I’m getting the sense that what some consider relaxed fit I think is skinny fit.”
I think we finally had a true understanding. EARH grabs another pair from the rack and said “Try these next – I think this is what you want.”
She was right – a conservative dark blue, ample room through the leg, sat well on my waist and seat – I was happy… and then I asked about the price.
EARH smiled brightly and said “Those are on sale for three seventy-five.” The number hung in the air for a minute.
“I am so sorry to have wasted your time. I understand that for some people that is a completely reasonable number, but it’s just not for me.” Because I felt a need to defend my financial priorities a bit more, I continued “The same people who would buy these jeans would look at me like I’m the crazy one for what I spend on cufflinks but it’s a question of what’s important to you… and I just can’t make a case for jeans being that important to me.”
EARH was earnest and undeterred “I have another pair with a similar cut that’s only three hundred.”
“I really apologize for having wasted your time, I guess that I didn’t understand what you all do here” I offered as I went to get dressed.
The opportunity cost of those jeans = (dinner at Central + drinks at Gibson) or (box of la flor dominicana cabinet selections #1 + a bottle of good bourbon) or 0.5(prescription drug cost for parental units for one month) or (too many other things that are more important to me)
EARH was professional and gracious to the end as she helped me with my jacket before giving me the valediction “If you change your mind, here’s my card and alterations are on me.”
All I could think was “At that price, you have to pay to have jeans altered?”
Let me see if I can answer some question before they make it to the comments:
No, neither her mobile number, nor any personal message, was on the back of her card.
Yes, I did eventually find a pair of jeans that fit to my satisfaction, at Macy’ and for less than seventy bills.