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The Old Fashioned Way

14 September 2010


low tech writer

These essays are now also available in book form, printed on real paper


Remember when new jeans came in one style and that style was “new”? (What an OLD man thing to say.) I can remember weeks of chafing and mailing tube stiffness when breaking in a new pair of jeans–only slightly less painful than breaking in a new pair of leather hiking boots. And when you’d really worked those denims for a good long time (like, years), they acquired a beautiful, velvety-soft, sky-blue, wonderfulness. Today, thanks to the wonder of whatever dark magic happens in jean factories, we never have to break in clothes again.

I like soft pants. Who doesn’t? I admit it: I’d choose faded jeans off the rack and leave behind the dark blue cardboard that is a fresh pair of 501s. But it’s kind of sad to me that I’m paying equal or more to buy clothes that have been washed with rocks and will therefore have a shorter lifespan. Aged cheese? Good. Aged wine? Mmm. Aged pants? Wha? Where can I get me a brand-new car with a thousand miles on it, covered with dents and scratches? Yes!

The New Fashioned Way

Now. I think the jeans pictured here look pretty good in a combat-boot-goes-to-the-prom sort of way, and I think the girl in them is also pretty great in that kind of way, and in many other ways too. But wow.

Every now and then, me and the kids (this one, who’s 16, and the boy, who’s 13) get a little punchy and end up wrestling on the floor, which is getting more and more dangerous (for me: I’ve broken parts of myself … and the 13 year-old recently took me down in the kitchen with one move). I can’t count all the times these kids cracked skulls while wrestling on the bed in the early years. We all know the risks of wrestling! And I thought we shared an equally casual attitude towards our wardrobes: I mean, look at those pants. But what do you think happens at the first sound of tearing? She shrieks: “You’re tearing my jeans!” Oh really.

The Old Fashioned Way

Then there’s me. This old pair of Levis has finally reached the point of structural failure. It’s possible these jeans are 20+ years old. I should be happy that I now have holes. No more of the shame that attends those whose pants are unventilated. I should feel different, but all I feel is a draft on my left knee. I tell my daughter with desperate pride that I put tears in my jeans the old fashioned way … I earn them. What an old man thing to say.