Last week, I was wearing my carpenter jeans, the ones Sarah more or less picked out for me last year, and they got a hole in the knee. So, the next day, I had to wear my khaki cargo pants. Later in the day, those got a huge hole in them, too, in the rear under the pocket. So, long story short, I was beginning to run out of comfortable casual pants that fit well, so I thought I better go find some new (comfortable) pants. You must know, however, that I pretty much don’t like jeans, except for those carpenter jeans, so I was looking for something similar (and, like most guys who don’t like shopping, I’m a hunter shopper, get in, find it, and get out).
I took off for the mall at about 4:30 this afternoon. I knew the mall would be busy but I thought I would be able to ignore the crowds. I had looked at the pair of jeans that I was replacing and thought, "it’s fine, all I have to do is ignore the crowds, ignore the salespeople, ignore the other jeans. I’ll just walk in to the Gap, find the style and size I need and walk out." Well, of course I’d pay first… then walk out. It turns out it wasn’t so easy as all that.
Of course, I make it to the mall and everyone and their brother has decided that it was time to go to the mall. I didn’t choose the best time to go if I wanted to ignore crowds. So, I spent ten minutes driving in circles looking for a place to park. I finally found one near Lord and Taylor. So much for ignoring the crowded parking lot. As I got out of the car I steadied myself. It’s okay, I say, you can do this. It’s just a little shopping. No big deal. I head into the mall.
Now, I could make the story great and say that I ran over three people once inside the mall, but I didn’t. Still, it was kinda hard to walk down the corridors for all the people that were there. You really did have to watch where you’re going. As I was headed to Eddie Bauer I was nearly run over by a stroller. That’s right, a stroller… no one pushing it. At least, that’s what it looked like. Turns out the person supposed to be in the stroller was behind, just ramming straight ahead, almost at a run. I lucked out though, as the little person got close, almost to my feet, he fell forward, pulled down by the three or four shopping bags he was also trying to carry as he forged ahead. I’m sure he was fine... I was fine. Mom and Dad ran to his aid, scolding and picking things up. Oh well, so much for ignoring the crowds of people in the mall. But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.
I looked at the map online before I came to the mall, so I had a good idea of where I was going, but had to check again before I was sure of where the Gap was. I walked past the store front for "Gap Women." Good, I thought, I don’t have to worry if I’m looking on the men’s side or the women’s side of the store, I just have to look for the "Gap Men" sign. Not that it doesn’t become obvious very quickly, but still it’s a little embarrassing when you walk into a store looking for jeans for yourself, turn left and all of a sudden you’re looking at miniskirts, fluffy sweaters, and skimpy t-shirts. You suddenly try to look as if you’re shopping for your wife, pretend to lose interest quickly and move into the men’s stuff. Anyway, I didn’t have to go through that ordeal. Now, onto the quick in and out shopping.
I walk around the store once before I find the jeans… I chose the wrong way to start, but I saw a nice sweater I thought I might try, so there was a bonus. Looking at the jeans I think, figures, they don’t make the style I want anymore. I briefly consider walking right back out, but I talk myself into staying for a frustrating evening. I drove all the way here, I say to myself, I better try to find something. So I start looking for something else. Nothing is in my size. Nothing. I think there is a law against stocking clothes that are longer than they are around. Finally, I found one pair of jeans that will work, loose boot cut. I don’t wear boots often but I think I’ll give the jeans a try. Of course, the last pair of boot cut jeans I tried on during a previous shopping trip looked cut for a woman, so I’m a little skeptical. I'd been looking for a size for ten minutes by the time I found that pair so now the salesman finds me. I tell him I had hoped to find a pair just like what I already owned. He tells me they don’t make it anymore but to try the jeans on the other side of the store, they’re similar. I look for a size. They have a couple. Okay, so now I’m in business, two sizes in each of three styles. Yikes. I go to try them on (along with the sweater I saw earlier, they only have S or XL, so I try the XL).
The first pair of jeans, loose straight, they feel funny right away, even before I get them all the way up. I try both sizes, just for kicks. Nothing. Next, loose boot cut. These are better, but they still fit funny around the waist. No dice with the bigger size, either. So I try the industrial jeans, the salesman’s suggestion. These fit pretty well, both sizes fit well. The only thing is they are too short. I noticed this right away, too. I’d have to go with a 36. But, like I said earlier, they don’t stock jeans longer than they are around, so, despite trying two or three pairs, I can’t find a 34 long enough to be comfortable. (I try the XL sweater, too. The arms fit nice, but you could fit three of inside the rest of it). Now my fifteen minute, in and out trip is more like 30. Briefly I consider giving up, going back home to eat ice cream. Again, I talk myself out of it saying, I’ll try to find something at Eddie Bauer…
So, it’s back to the store map. I look at it for five minutes. I find Eddie Bauer on the list, and American Eagle, too. I look on the map, but have to look back at the list, was EB in A and AEO in M or vice versa? I get it figured out and head towards Sears. I get halfway there and realize I don’t know where I’m going. Oh well, it’s either EB or AEO towards Sears, I’ll just look for both. I find it, it’s EB. They have men’s and women’s together, so I spend a minute or so looking dazed as I decide which side is the men’s. I figure it out and find the jeans easily this time. I start looking for a size in relaxed fit. I find one (just one) and head to the fitting room. On the way, I find the sales rack. 19.99 marked down from the 39.99 pair I’m holding in my hand. That convinces me to look for more in my size, even though I’m still not happy to be there and would rather be quick and get out. Now, I’ve got 5 pairs of jeans. One is actually a 36! I can hardly believe it. The 36 is long enough, but the waist still feels weird. So I move on to AEO.
Now, the waist on jeans is actually why I pretty much gave up jeans. It was probably eight years ago or more. In fact, besides the pair that I bought with Sarah last year, I don’t think I’ve bought a new pair since my mom bought me one about eight years ago, and I still have that one in pretty good shape. Of course, I don’t wear it, so why shouldn’t it be in good shape? But, I do have a pair of jeans! Anyway, my final reason for giving up jeans was pretty much that I began to think they are just made wrong, at least for me. In fact, sometimes I feel they are made backwards, that they’d be more comfortable if you just put the zipper in the back. Actually I tried this with the old uncomfortable pair of jeans when I got home, put them on backwards… It actually wasn’t too bad! Anyway, last year Sarah went shopping with me and I tried a pair of carpenter jeans on her suggestion. They fit me very nicely (with the zipper in front), and that’s the pair I was trying to replace.
On to AEO. Here I’m kinda getting tired, so I’m a little more frustrated when I have to look around for two or three minutes, from side to side, before I can be sure of where the men’s jeans are (v. the women’s). I find two or three fairly quickly, a couple boot cut, and head to the changing room. I quickly whip through them, not expecting to find anything. One pair almost makes the cut but I stopped myself pretty quickly from buying them. They still weren’t right, and as long as I was against wearing jeans, I couldn’t convince myself to buy an acceptable pair just to have a pair of jeans (especially for upwards of $40).
About this time I remember that Panera bread smelled really good when I walked in the door, and now it’s about 6:30. So, I decided to go ahead and eat out. I figure I owed myself something. I had just tortured myself by asking myself to go shopping (ugh). I tried on at least twenty pairs of jeans that didn’t fit, and braved the crowds and strollers to get nowhere. I didn’t feel like going home to an empty cupboard and trying to figure out what to eat (it probably would have been spaghetti). So, I had a nice, hot Panera panini sandwich and headed home.
And that’s how I went shopping for jeans and came home only with a full stomach. Now I’ll have to spend some time online to see if those Gap jeans come in a 36. I won’t get to try them on, but, at least there won’t be any crowds or salesmen. I could always wear the jeans I already have backwards, but that is probably less than stylish.