Monday, July 30, 2007

trousers of terror

Sometimes I meet new people. Not that often, but sometimes. I’ve noticed that when I do, people enjoy talking about growing up and junior high and high school and all that crap. I suppose those are formative years. I don’t remember learning all that much. But it is amusing to hear other folks’ horror stories.

I usually wait until they’ve told their cute little tales of woe; about that time they farted during a quiet moment in a school assembly, the day they had their period while wearing white pants, that time they got caught in the friend’s parent’s liquor cabinet and vomited on the kitchen table.

All embarrassing. All rather pedestrian, in my opinion.

What follows is my story of adolescent horror.

When I was very little my mom made me my clothes.

At first, it was pretty cool. She made me cool jumpsuits with stripes down the sides, cause it was the seventies and my little kid mind was already in love with the idea of practical clothes. One thing to wear, plus a pair of sneakers, and I was off to climb the garage and jump off of it with my parachute made of garbage bags. Don’t worry, I wore my plastic fireman’s helmet, so I was safe.

I got older and Mom kept making clothes for me. It started to be annoying, but I couldn’t hurt her feelings. I wore the little suits she made for me with the little bow ties that she somehow made as well. She always said that I looked ‘sharp’, which confused me. It didn’t seem the right thing to say to a kid with chapped lips, being stuffed into an unpleasantly tight, itchy brown suit with matching bow tie on class photo day. What has the word ‘sharp’ got to do with that.

It was a small Alberta town and no one cared what 8 to 10 year olds wore.

When I was twelve, we moved to the big city of Edmonton.

Things began to change for me then. I was no longer cute. I was awkward. It was puberty after all. Everyone is awkward during those years. However, I don’t feel sorry for those kids now and I didn’t then. How can I be so callous?


These were not the kind of jeans that could melt into the background with everyone else’s jordache, levis, and GWGs. Nope. The yellow thread was extra bright, so from several dozen feet away, everyone knew something was up. Something about those pants just looked wrong. I think it was something in the cut. There were always a couple of inches of space between my shoes and the cuff. I do remember that they were either too wide at the bottom, or too tapered around the bottom of my legs. I did have more than one pair, and I did try and get Mom to adjust them, but she is a woman of extremes, not subtlety.

By the time the other rotten kids got closer, and I had turned to head off in the opposite direction, the tag on the back flashed the words ‘MADE WITH LOVE BY MOM’ where it should have said ‘Levi Strauss’.

As all of you who were cool in junior high know quite well, a loving mom was the last thing you advertised to the world. Instantly I was that guy. You know the one. The goof, the spaz, the dork.... I dreamt of being a geek.

I feel I would have done better to not wear any pants at all. At the very least, it would have shown some level of confidence.

I couldn’t tell mom how horrible the jeans were. I think it would still cause her great sadness today. I should have said something. It did get worse.

Anyone that grew up in the eighties will remember parachute pants. I’m not sure why they were called that. Maybe they were first made out of parachutes. I thought at the time that they were meant for parachuting. For a couple of months, they were the pants to wear.

Horrible pants, really. I’m glad they haven’t come back in style. All that nylon swishing back and forth. Shiny zippers in silver and gold with ineffective pockets. There was nothing good about those pants. But all the cool kids wore them, for about three weeks.

I told my mom that’s what I wanted, thinking that she would have to give up looking for a pattern and appropriate fabric and just go to a damn store full of ready made clothes.


Mom saw a pair and said ’38 dollars for that?! Just look at the stitches! I could do better than that.’


They were tapered and hard to get on with many stupid pockets and zippers. I had to wear them and the jeans until I either out grew them or somehow wrecked them otherwise the guilt trip would be marginally worse than the next day at school.

By high school I was fully in charge of making my own clothing choices. It took several years to escape the legacy of those trousers of terror. As a side note, I did not get laid in high school.

Someone after hearing my story told me ‘I could tell you why you didn’t get laid.’

Because she is a sister of a very dear friend of mine, I did not immediately wack her upside her head. I just said ‘I already know why, thanks’ and walked home.

I suppose if I learnt anything from the experience it was how to show restraint and just walk, and in some cases, run, away.


French Panic said...

Do you have pictures of these jeans?
Do you have pictures of you wearing these jeans?

I wonder what sorts of awful things she will do to her grandchildren.

Wilma said...

preaching to the choir.

you've brought back all the horror, the embarrassment, the humiliation, the shame of homemade clothing. jeans were undoubtedly the worst.

my mother also did my hair. home toni perms. home bowl-cuts. add glasses & braces. it ain't pretty.

wire monkey mama said...

God I love this story. I too would like to see photos...
You are right, your jeans trump all childhood trauma.

Bruno Rocco said...

ok this is too funny , i too had to live through the horror's of home made clothes.

parachute pant's those were funny swish swish and the packages nothing hidden their