Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And the answer is ...


Okay, so about three years ago, when my last good pair of Levi's gave up the ghost, I went to the store and bought a new pair. Just looked for my size, took it to the front counter, paid with plastic, and went home. How I always did it. My waist didn't change, so why should my order? Only, when I got home and put them on, I found myself not in a pair of Levi's, same as Elvis and Jimmy Dean wore, but something better suited to a Sir Mix-A-Lot video.

I looked at myself in the mirror, my legs somewhere within the baggy folds of blue, my ass lost in a sea of denim, and I -- no, I didn't cry, but there was a great loss in my spirit, I felt it like a crack running through a great shelf of ice, and so I reacted as only a writer would. I wrote a letter. To Levi's. Cursing them this way and then that, saying how dare you? How can you possibly change the 501, the maypole around which American culture dances? Because that's what they'd done. They changed the 501. I'd looked on the internet and read the articles saying just that. So I wrote and I wrote, asking, How dare you infidels take over and do such a thing? These are Levi's!

And the response that came back, well -- I went searching for it, wishing I'd kept it in the backlogs of one of my email accounts, because it should serve as a historical record, a testament to the stupidity of America at the start of the new millenium -- it said, owing to changes in style and the American diet -- the American diet! -- it was believed that a change in the design of the 501 was necessary to keep up with current trends. Hence, they were looser, baggier, bigger.

So because some fat ass went to the McDonald's drive-through one too many times while listening to MC Hammer on the stereo, you're going to take away my blue jeans?

I could have written them back with these sentiments and many more, but I realized they were lost souls, wandering along toward their own little private Apocalypse, the whole sick crew wearing baggy blue jeans and damned to the core.

So instead of writing another letter, I returned my blue jeans and went scrambling around looking for the last of those made the original way. I thought I found some in Texas, when I went to visit my grandmother for Thanksgiving, but I don't know -- after a couple of years, they still don't feel right. They're better than what I had, but still all wrong. Made in Guatemala. By people who've never seen Rebel Without a Cause.

Cut to the present day: Kyiv, January 2006, the Globus shopping center on Maidan Nezalezhnosti. A Levi's store. I go in, like a pilgrim. And what do I find? Blue jeans. That fit right. Close to the leg, high in the seat. I look around and see more. A Levi's corduroy jacket with sheep's fur lining. Just like I couldn't find in America anymore. Just like I used to wear in middle school. I wanted to hug the sale's girl, my girlfriend, the men working at the store with hair that stood up in back. I was home, in Ukraine. And how funny would that be, I thought, if my friends found out and asked me to bring a few pairs back to the states.

"You're going to America? Bring Levi's! They go crazy for Levi's over there. You won't have to buy a thing!"

It used to be what you heard when you went to Eastern Europe, not from it. But now the times have changed, and you have to smuggle American fashion back into America.

So yes, I bought a pair of Levi's. And a jacket. That's what's in the bag. I'm sure I'll get another pair before I leave. You need one?

P.S. Levi's still sucks, if only for the sacrilege of changing the 501. Do not view this post in any way as an endorsement. I dislike their corporate model, their business plan, the people working in their offices in San Francisco, even the cars they drive to work.

4 Comments:

Myfanwy Collins said...

Hilarious! I was going to guess peanut sauce, though, but this is much better. I covet that jacket.

Richard said...

Levi's--cool. Do they have any alligator boots over there?

Kevin McMahan said...

My wife calls those types of jeans, "Squeeze Pants!"

And, after walking everywhere for 2 years, I fit into them pretty nicely.

Since coming back to America, I don't fit into them so well, anymore...

Anonymous said...

By God I'm with you on this. Found this post via Google while looking for the older-style 501s online.