Sunday, January 22, 2012

RIP: That Pair of Jeans.

I don't often buy jeans.
Frankly, I think the entire ordeal of taking oneself to the jeans emporium - wherever that may be - is not only disheartening (oh, how the weight is gained...) but also painful and altogether much too time-consuming.

Thus, when I buy myself a pair of jeans they don't get replaced until they're pretty much falling off my legs. That's no exaggeration. They will actually be in tatters before I acquiesce and buy a new pair. Some people will spend hundreds of dollars on fancy-ass legwear ... not this lady. I suppose too, that "lady" is the wrong word to be using in this instance. "Lady" isn't usually synonymous with dirty jeans never being washed, being patched up rip after rip, fusing themselves to the legs of the wearer like a grotty and faded black second skin.

And so, the time recently and reluctantly came around again. I finally caved. I bade farewell to Ol' Rippy (as they have just now been dubbed), the jeans that saw me through countless music festivals, many months of accumulated shifts waiting tables and making coffee, film shoots, a Eurotrip, a couple of interstate sojourns, and a South American adventure. They have been replaced by an identical pair, which have now been dubbed New Rippy (it's a pre-emptive moniker).

The long, painful and unnecessarily strung-out death of Ol' Rippy.

The first rip occurred where and when it usually does with a somewhat cheap-ish pair of jeans. A little less than a year after they were initially purchased, around the same time the zip began to splutter and lose the strength of will to stay up. The rip was near the crotch, and it occurred on the way to an early-morning film shoot.

I leapt into Jaz's car at around 5:30 in the goddamn morning, ready to head to who-knows-where-past-the-city for a shoot. As I fell into the back seat, I heard that familiar RRRRRIIIIIP sound, and felt the cold morning air on my inner thigh. I groaned, and inwardly patted myself on the back for never leaving the house without a little monster pouch that contains bandaids, safety pins, tampons, a condom and a sewing kit (A smart girl is a prepared girl, kids. Knowing is half the battle!).

I spent the car trip in the dark, half-asleep, sewing up the rip while the jeans remained on my person. It was a feat achieved mostly by feel. I stabbed myself only a few times.

After that first rip, the future of a pair of jeans teeters on the edge of a very slippery slope. That first rip was sewn up and re-sewn a number of times, as you can probably imagine. I can't help it if I'm prone to jumping around and climbing up and down things during moments of drunkenness. One big rip, a slightly worn out crotchular area and a bunch of coffee stains a pair of jeans does not kill. A trip to South America however, does.

The next big rip happened almost immediately after arriving in Cusco. It was eventually sewn up in Arequipa - a rushed job - and emerged again bigger and better than ever as soon as I returned to Cusco. Bolivia was next. La Paz was too much of a blur of lights and crappy music and ridiculous funtimes for sleep, much less pausing long enough to fend off sickness and sew up newly ripped jeans. Which is a shame, because I got back to La Paz after a sojourn in Copacabana with a brand spanking new rip. Watch them accumulate!

The initial rip very quickly spread. Like a jean-eating disease.
The childhood friends from New York I'd spent a night hanging out with on Isla del Sol headed across the border to Peru, while I decided to spend another night at Copacabana then head back to La Paz - for what would start as a stop-over and end a four-day bender. I'd had a lovely and relaxing evening to myself, eating at a nice restaurant, drinking more-than-adequate coffee, reading Brideshead Revisited. I then spied a cool-looking bar and headed in to do a bit of writing. There I met  a well-read German, and we got to chatting with the Radiohead-loving Chileno behind the bar. Eager to try new beers - a change from the Bolivian equivalent of Carlton Draught available at my La Paz hostel - I'd soon sampled a great and potent variety of the region's alcohol. Besides that, my company was interesting and eager to converse. So, by the time I emerged into the drizzly and chilly night my vague loneliness lingering from having recently left my close circle of friends in Cusco had faded to a warm and happy glow. Superb!

Not so superb, was the image that greeted me when I got back to my hostel. OPEN 24 HOURS, the sign had declared. Approaching the very large gate however, things looked decidedly closed. I shook the gate. No dice.
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!" A drunken roar echoed in the night.
I stared through the gate, up the driveway to where the reception was.
A group of guys standing at a nearby foodstand spied me yelling and sauntered over. They didn't look Bolivian, but weren't gringos either.
"What're you doing?" one asked in me in Spanish.
"My hostel's closed. I thought it was open 24 hours a day. I need to get inside!"
"Well, I guess you can't go home yet." Another said, grinning. "You'll have to come drinking with us."
I considered his suggestion for all of about half a second. No dice. No dice at all.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I have a bus to catch tomorrow morning."
"But how are you going to get inside?"
"Umm..." I looked up at the gates.
Suddenly one of the guys leapt forward. "Step on me!" His hands were held out and linked.

This is where the propensity I have for climbing things after a few beers came into play. The gate was high but I clambered to the top, the guys below cheering me on. I reached the top and from my perch I could see just how high I had climbed. It was really, really high. It was then that my German friend from the bar appeared, having heard all the commotion. He stepped forward and gave me a skeptical look, as if to say, "You were drunker than I thought you were." He proceeded to unlatch the gate and push it open.
"FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK." Another roar echoed through Copacabana. I clutched the gate as it and I swung forward. Suddenly, I realised that somehow I'd have to get down. The guys were doubled over with laughter, taking photos of the stupid girl who'd climbed the unlocked gate. I mugged for the camera, but dreaded what I'd have to do next.

It hurt me, and it hurt Ol' Rippy. 

I jumped. Then fell. Then I woke up and limped to the coffee shop before getting on the bus, my left side of my person aching. Then I realised I had ripped a truly awful and gargantuan hole in my jeans. So then I put my long-johns on underneath my jeans. That's how big the hole was. The kind of hole in which the unshaven leg underneath would cause even the most hardened Bolivian to vom on sight. It pretty much cut the leg in half, from my crotch then down my thigh.

What happened next was four days of me taking off those jeans maybe ... twice? To shower. I think I put on a dress one of those days (I was meeting up with a friend, you see). Then I went to Sucre and showered. Then I headed to Potosi and didn't shower again until after I crossed the border into Argentina. In fact, Sam and I went down into the mines in Potosi, where it's BOILING HOT, and chose the eat-then-bus-to-Uyuni option over the shower option. What I'm trying to get at is the fact that the jeans were filthy. They were DISGUSTING. They hadn't been washed in a truly disgusting amount of time ("a few weeks" is a mere ballpark figure), they were pretty much in tatters, and they'd just about fused themselves to my legs. And the fact that the salt flats were FREEZING and I could only take a portion of my backpack meant that I had neither the chance or the the inclination to take my jeans off to fix them.

In fact, I don't think I actually sewed up the rip until ... sometime into Argentina. Buenos Aires maybe?  By then, a couple of things had become apparent. Firstly, that all this time spent with my jeans (over my  long-johns/thermals/whatever the fuck they are) meant that they had pretty much become a part of me. They'd pretty much fused themselves to my body. Sure, I had shorts that I wore in the jungle, I had dresses that I wore whenever I felt the situation was appropriate (good thing I did, seeing as the inhabitants of Buenos Aires are rather fashionable indeed). But every travel day was spent in jeans. Secondly, that with all of those rips spending time with each other, a number of romances had obviously blossomed, bringing into life a myriad of baby rips.

By the time I got to Chile, Ol' Rippy had faded to a kind of sickly grey-ish colour around the knees, with different coloured string peeking out of the sewed rips, gaping holes revealing either my tights or thermals (good thing the Chilean south is deathly cold). I'm pretty sure there's a photo Jesse and I took of our feet, with his proud black jeans next to my on-death's-door grey ones. I feel it really conveys the wheezing extent of Ol' Rippy's drawn-out demise. However, don't for a moment be thinking that all I was wearing were these jeans. I think I managed to have a pretty good wardrobe during my trip over to SA, Bolivian dirty-times notwithstanding. I even made sure to always have my undercut freshly buzzed whenever possible. Out of all the items of clothing I took though, Ol' Rippy by far fared the worst.

Anyway. I got back to Australia. And I REFUSED to buy new ones. Partly because I wanted to lose weight before I went through the whole buying new jeans ordeal. Partly because I just wanted to know how long it'd take before the jeans were physically impossible to wear anymore.

Please to observe.

The crotch.
Inner right thigh.
Note the two giant rips spanning the entire width of the leg. 
About four different sewing jobs to be seen here. 
Inner left thigh.
Ol' Rippy next to New Rippy. Note the difference in colour.
In the end, Ol' Rippy's death was without ceremony or a grand story. I was on the plane to Perth. To be honest, looking back I felt as if I was about to head to my next location in South America. A rainy day, I was in my beleaguered old jacket, worn out from months of being strapped to the outside of my backpack. I was wearing a dirty old bright yellow t-shirt emblazoned with "VERMONT", given to me by a lovely boy hailing from there. I was wearing a dorky-ass Peruvian beanie, complete with llamas and a tail. I was wearing Ol' Rippy. Like old times. Nostalgia plus. Then I sat down and I heard a RRRRRRRIIIIPPPP I knew in my heart that it was the end, as the cool air hit my inner thigh once more. It was the end of the road for Ol' Rippy. 

Strike me down with a broken zip, I actually felt a little glum. These jeans had taken me through the UK, Europe, Adelaide, countless days and evenings of work at a cafe, of festivals and gigs, through Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. They'd seen the Amazon, the drizzly and snowy south of the motherland, a hazy adventure through Amsterdam, had propelled me onto the stage during Italian karaoke. They'd seen the spilt beer of a thousand pubs. The smoke of a thousand cigarettes had latched themselves onto Ol' Rippy's threads. The stench of a thousand chocolate drinks had followed me around after a shift while still wearing Ol' Rippy. Ol' Rippy had seen bands that had bored me to tears and moved me to tears. Ol' Rippy had made me struggle to free myself from its grip during drunken and fumbling sexy adventures. 

And pain of pains above all, I'd have to go shopping for a new pair. Goddamn, that shit is annoying.

I realise that was a really long-winded post about what essentially is just a piece of material that one wears on one's bottom half in order to keep those around them from gagging in disgust/to keep one's nether regions safe from the elements, but I do believe Ol' Rippy had a very full life for a pair of jeans. A very full life indeed. He lives in my closet still, setting an example for all future jeans.


1 comment:

  1. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!