Monday, September 30, 2019



When I see some jerk wearing torn jeans, I curdle inside with rage, since once I had to wear ripped pants because I was poor.
It's not fashionable but offensive to the many in Canada and millions in the world who are forced to wear torn clothes or even to go without and shiver through the night.
Thank heavens that none of my relatives or friends or neighbours think it's really great to show strips of their flesh with fluttering strands as a frame because I would have to fight the temptation regularly to tell them to smarten up.
What exactly is the appeal? To say I want to demonstrate to everyone that I really can afford to buy jeans that haven't been torn or beaten but I've decided not to even as I climb into the latest hot car that cost more than many families make in a year.
Now I confess that my hatred of this dumb attempt to be fashionable was born that day in Grade 5 when Miss Thompson asked me to stay behind when the class broke for lunch. She said that I wasn't decent  and I couldn't come back to class unless my grandmother fixed the crotch of my breeches because various parts were in danger of swinging in the wind.
So I trudged home wrapped in a cloud of mortification. I didn't dare tell my grandmother because she probably would slap me for being too rough on my clothes. So Joyce and Joanne, my sisters who also had embarrassing clothing when they went to their grades just ahead of me, came to my rescue with some scraps of cloth that they wove into a form of basket with clumsy stitches.
So I waddled back to school (there was no cafeteria) and the approval of Miss Thompson who stood at the class door and inspected me, apparently not noticing the threads and unmatched cloth that sprouted below the military grey breeches.
It was an awful few months with me waddling around with a scratchy crotch and the resulting stubborn rash. I only had one other pair of  breeches. which are the worst form of clothing ever to be inflicted on a boy, but that pair was for church. Then came spring and the freedom of short pants which were a lot cheaper than breeches so I actually had a second pair. And in the fall the grownup joy of long pants.
You learn to be careful with clothes and money and just about everything else if there is no cash around when you are a boy. Indeed in all of Chesley money was tight as the town limped out of the depression only to be hammered by war.
So I can't shake that past when some of the nostalgia is more sour than sweet, especially when I see some plump teenager lounging on the subway with flesh bulging out of the slashes at the knee as she ignores the pensioners standing around her.
The idea of paying $70 or $250 for jeans that have been cut in the very latest style, or so the ad says, or buying jeans that have been bashed by stones and washed within a thread of their useful life, is so offensive to me that I list it as one symbol of how screwed up a wasteful society can be when trashy fashion survives even when it is offensive to common sense.

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