Monday, 22 February 2010

You jeans like fit good sir?

Today I tried to buy jeans. Fuck knows why I bothered, but I tried. It is no overstatement to say that jeans and I are a modern reinvention of the Capulets and Montagues ; the irreconcilable forces of human flesh and sweatshop denim trapped in an eternal war across the stars, yet destined to produce one breathless, harmonious union that winks out of existence almost as soon as it is born. Although with less hanging out around the fish tank with Leonardo.

This perfect union is still clinging on for dear life around my shapely buttocks. Purchased almost five years ago these jeans hug, flare, slip and ride my legs in a delightfully indecent manner. Such is their power that wearing them I feel I could conjugate the above verbs into any context with any man who takes my fancy, and I’m not just talking about Advanced Level Grammar classes here people. This is saucy stuff.

Sadly however, having seen me through thick and thin these jeans are now mostly just experiencing the thin. Predominantly around the sculpted derriere area. Indeed, the area classified as “completely fucking worn through– I can see your arse flapping out” by Straight Best Friend has spread in recent weeks from crotch to hip pocket, fuelling a fear that my Suppressed Homo is attempting to break free via the medium of home-made chaps. In an attempt to avoid this horror and in acknowledgement that my relationship with torn trousers is a little relaxed, I ventured out to buy a new pair.

I will not bore you with the details of my inability to find a suitable repurchase. Suffice to say it was a complete fucking car-crash of a day and the manager of GAP will require reconstructive surgery. Upon my return home Design Partner listened patiently to my woes, made a sad puppy-dog face, and announced that the solution was obvious; we needed to start an online custom-made jeans company! Of course! Sometimes I wonder how so much entrepreneurial genius fits into such a travel-ready package.

A quick internet search later and we had learned two things. 1) There were already plenty of companies like this catering for Americans who had passed beyond the “Elasticated Waistbands = Bad” threshold back when they ate the family dog in ‘98, and 2) there was only one company in the UK, a certain “Jean Machine”. With two denim-clad ladies trapped in a wind tunnel on their homepage we could see they had the custom-made jean business sewn up in contrasting stitch detailing, so we gave up on the business plan and settled in to order me my Perfect Jeans.

Step One: choose your style. No worries here, although Design Partner was slightly disconcerted that there were 11 styles on offer yet only eight images. Also one picture appeared to be of a Levi jean. Hmmm. Moving swiftly on.

Step Two: choose your material. Ah this we can do. Real-posh-looking-yet-remarkably-cheap-dark-denim please. We is on a budget here. Sadly that particular choice was not available so we went for not-quite-as-Eurovision-nasty-looking-as-the-others blue.

Step Three: take your measurements. We started with my waist, which I am pleased to say has been a gentlemanly 32 inches since puberty. The tape measure, however, seemed to indicate an actual size of 36 inches, which earned Design Partner a thorough beating for his clumsiness. 36 inches indeed. Astonishingly, repeat measurements confirmed that thirty-six was indeed correct. It seems the fashion industry doesn’t understand the use of units of distance as a measure of say, actual distance, but rather as a series of funny shapes to make that dull patch on the inside of the waistband look pretty. Genius. I tip my hat to them.

Next, Design Partner had to measure my ‘seat’, defined as the fattest part of your arse. It’s lucky he doesn’t resemble a woollen Adonis put through the hot cycle one too many times, or I might have found the whole whipping a tape around my buttocks in my pants a tad erotic. As it was there was a tense moment when he suggested that the measuring tape shouldn’t be cutting valleys into my derriere, and I snapped back that I most certainly did not have a 39-inch arse so some cutting was inevitable, but we worked through it.

I also had to specify whether I wanted a ‘custom’, ‘normal’, ‘low waist’ or ‘high waist’ design. This was to define where the jeans were to sit on my waist using the belly button as a convenient navigational aid. Thus ‘normal’ was defined as “when you wear your jeans on the belly button.” ‘Low waist’ was “two inches below the belly button.” Seriously? A quick check revealed that Design Partner’s jeans sat three inches below his umbilicus, and mine a heady five inches below. I was practically wearing them as socks. Most alarmingly of all, one could order the “high waist” design for those above-the-naval statement pieces. Ideal for incontinence pads and first dates.

Finally we had to measure something called the ‘front rise.’ Neither of us knew what this was so we clicked on the helpful illustrative jpeg. Up popped this beauty.

Design Partner suddenly looked a bit flushed. I worried whether our relationship could survive him holding the tape measure thusly. Both of us were glad the young lady had chosen to wear her jeans for the demonstration, for fear of losing her tape.

And then, just as suddenly as we had begun we were at the checkout! A few more clicks and denim paradise would be mine! While I warmed up the credit card Design Partner went off to find some online reviews from other satisfied “Jean Machine” customers. He soon found this gem:

I sent Jean Machine £127 and my favourite jeans to make me two new pairs. This was eight weeks ago, I haven’t heard from them since and they won’t reply to my emails! Help!

Ah. That’s a little unfortunate. Design Partner followed this up with a call to their helpline which was, ahem, disconnected. Dreams. Floor. Shattered.

So I’m back to square one. My favourite jeans are threatening to subdivide into cropped shorts and leg-warmers, and I have no backup solution. Things are looking bleak.

On the plus side however, what I do have from this little journey is a selection of photos sent in by satisfied customers of When the Day Of Jean Death finally arrives I shall be able to look back at these and console myself with the knowledge that even in my denim, home-made chaps I have got it over this lot. Enjoy.

"Brian, wearing's Jeans and Denim Shirt, Jeans with extra length was requested."

I bet it was, the saucy minx.

"Sonja is wearing low rise Jeans made by, she has ordered a Brazilian Style Add-On #105."

"Sonja 2."

I do hope Sonja got a discount on her second purchase.

"David is wearing a Skinny Tight tapering fit Pussy Cat Dark Wash jeans with a 7-inch front rise and a heart-shaped back pocket with embroidery. He insisted on a very very skin tight fit."

Oh. Dear. God.

"Chase Metheney."

No Chase. No. Bad boy.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Pants, Trousers, and other cultural misunderstandings

Ladies and Gentlemen, have I a treat in store for you today! Oooh, the excitement! It’s not very often that I introduce a new character to this blog but today we have a corker. Pull back the velvet curtain, swivel the gas lamps and let’s begin.

Today’s personality has always been lurking in the background. As husband to Straight Best Friend he was often to be found tut-tutting as I dragged her out on unseemly nights of drunken debauchery, yet this kind soul was always there to provide healing cups of tea the next day. It was in this capacity of Hot Beverage Deliverer that I knew him for many years, but now that I live near him in Bath he has become a mainstay of my social life. We have manly pints at local pubs, talk about physics and boobs, and go out on unseemly nights of drunken debauchery.

So when we were both abandoned by Best Friend/Wife on New Year’s Eve this year it was perfectly logical that Bearded Bromance and I should spend it together. There was to be no sitting at home alone, drinking vodka from a mug and watching the oven clock count down in a tin foil hat. No, not this year! Instead, we would drink the vodka in a public place using non-ceramic receptacles, and then do what we always did when the lights went down and we got a little tipsy... yes, we would dance! Dance like madmen!

Dancing is Bearded Bromance’s secret talent, his paranormal ability. The result of diabolical genetic experimentation on 8-tracks of The Supremes, he worked for many years for the British military, undermining totalitarian regimes and freeing the oppressed with the transformative power of disco. Now retired, he lives out his days behind the facade of doting father and school handyman, his memory erased and his powers reduced to humming “I Will Survive” while plunging u-bends blocked with the outpourings of seven year olds.

Still, every superhero has his weakness, and Bearded Bromance’s powers can be momentarily reactivated by the liberal application of pink cosmopolitans. Thus it was that New Year’s Eve found us in a rugby pub, dressed in our finest tuxedos, abandoning our mates to Auld Lang Syne downstairs while we pushed aside the buffet tables to create a makeshift dancefloor. The fever was on us, and there was no dance genre that did not quiver in anticipation of our unique interpretation.

Leaping, grooving, sliding, rocking, pirouetting, tangoing, strutting, stomping; we covered all the basics. Then, when these had been exhausted we moved on to wall climbing, table leaping, seafood-platter juggling and mantelpiece grinding. Dancing with Bearded Bromance gives reality to the platitude to “dance like no one is watching.” Unfortunately it also gives weight to the subsequent advise to “love like you’ve never been hurt” for - if you happen to be in the same sweat-pit as us on Halloween when we are dressed as pirates and the cosmopolitans are down - you are certain to get a plastic sword pommel in the eye.

On the occasion of New Year’s, at around 12.38am, I suddenly realised that “Time Warp” would be significantly improved by adding a dramatic straddling-of-the-chair move between jumping to the left and stepping to the right. Chair straddling is an old move from university - the artful curve of the lifted leg honed with years of practise - and one that I was sure would be met with approval. Unfortunately all it was met with was a loud ripping sound and guffaws of laughter from Bearded Bromance, as the fabric of my trousers parted under the strain of my exertions.

Closer inspection by Bromance between sets revealed a four inch rip along the seam of my crotch, and also the knowledge that I had been clever enough to wear black underpants. Praise be to my subconscious! Always helping out when my conscious forgets to bring safety pins! So it was that we continued to dance until 3am, each cartwheel or pole spin being accompanied by a further tearing noise, and each tearing noise by riotous laughter. Indeed, when we finally arrived home and a full examination was possible it became apparent that the steady separation of east and west buttocks had only been stopped by my zipper at the fore and my belt at aft. As I passed my grinning head through the tattered remains of my tuxedo trousers Bearded Bromance and I had to agree; truly this had been an excellent night out.

Yet as I lay in bed that night, waiting for the oblivion of drunken sleep, something nagged at the edges of memory. Some echo of an old life, a shadow struggling to rise to the surface, an oily stain spreading where it had been smothered. As I slipped from consciousness it came to me, spreading its dark wings and sending hope scuttling into the hidden places. Thus was I haunted by the Ghost Of Pant-Ripping Past.

Spring, 2001.

The jacarandas dripped their purple blossoms onto the streets of Sydney as I wielded a can of gold spray paint in the back yard. I was preparing for the University’s 50th Anniversary Rowing Ball, and this automotive paint was my secret weapon. I had resolved that if one is to attend a Golden Anniversary with the specific intention of picking up a hot homo rower then one must 1) be noticed, 2) be identifiable as a gayer yourself, and 3) look splendid. The obvious solution? To arrive in a gold three-piece suit with gilded shoes and sparkly hair. Such a discreet, unassuming youth.

The ensemble I was now studiously gilding had been picked up from various charity shops across town; a gentleman’s waistcoast here, a silk ‘kerchief there. I had struggled to find an appropriate shirt however, until at the eleventh hour heaven had provided and I had stumbled upon a dazzling lady’s blouse. Unfortunately it was a little short and thus prone to reveal one’s midrift in an alarmingly provocative way, so The Sister had pinned it to my trousers to spare the boys. Thus prepared I stepped out to receive my adoring rowing fans.

The night was not, one might say, an immediate success. The only homo rower present was an ex, and although a loving, kind-hearted and generous man he also was also in possession of a ridiculous surname that “in physical chemistry defines the weak force that acts at a molecular level.” No relationship can survive that literary car crash.

As the night wore on it became clear that although the attractive power of my gilded accoutrements could not be disputed, they were insufficient to make lady-loving rowers throw off their clothes and form an orderly queue. Disappointing. Also the ex was getting increasingly keen, so it was necessary to take evasive action; we bundled into a cab and headed to the nearest club.

My relief was short-lived however. In the chaos of departure I had not only managed to leave my coterie behind but also had scooped up the Improbably Named Ex and his friend. At the club I tried to lose them amongst the dark, gyrating mass of sweaty bodies on the dancefloor but to no avail. The ex moved closer and closer, and in desperation I looked around for an escape. I was greeted by dozens of staring, glinting eyes.

Yikes! Here at least was my attire fully appreciated, if perhaps a little too well. Gulp. I glanced around and noticed a nice Italian fellow who looked like he knew how to al dente his penne properly, so I shimmied over like a string of tinsel.

Al Dente: “Hi.”

HW: “Hi.”

Al Dente [grinding into my personal space]: “I like your outfit, but you must be hot in that jacket. Let me help you out of it.” Oh yes. Those Italians are smooth.

HW: “Thanks.”

Al Dente [groping into my personal space]: “And your waistcoat. Let’s get rid of that.” The man was a veritable clothing tactician.

HW: “Ummm, sure.”

Al Dente [total destruction of personal space]: “And let’s see what’s under this shirt shall we?”

Al’s hands snaked around my waist and with a gentle tug he proceeded to lift my shirt, only to find it had snagged on my belt. He pulled again, a little harder this time, but the shirt stayed firmly in place. With a confused little grunt Al tried a third time, and it was only then that I remembered; my shirt was safety-pinned to my trousers. By my sister. Oh my fucking god, the utter horror of it all.

Rather than admit the hideous truth of the situation I took charge and pulled my shirt up with all my strength. With a tearing noise the blouse came free and safety pins went hurtling off into the darkness, blinding drag queens and exciting the masochists. Al misunderstood my sudden enthusiasm for disrobing and proceeded to get rather heavy-handed, so I backed away and created some space by dancing like a madman.

You see, even without the influence of Bearded Bromance I have always been a fervent dancer, and with the adrenalin of being semi-naked in a pit of snakes I mean gay club I was on fire. I did the cool shoulder groove, the funky foot-crossing thing, and for a grand finale did HW’s patented quick drop-squat move.

And with that my trousers ripped from sun-up to sundown.

Ah. Fuck.

In a heartbeat the reality of my situation came crashing down upon me. I was in a gay club, with no shirt on, in tight golden trousers with my white underpants flashing out. I might as well have worn a huge neon sign saying “Young Man-Flesh Available Here: Slightly Used, Going Cheap”. With the vultures circling I did what any respectable man in flesh and shredded lamé would do; I leaned into Al’s ear and whispered huskily “Do you want to get out of here?” He didn’t need to be asked twice.

Swimming back up through the darkness I returned panting to New Year’s Eve, 2010. The bed was drenched with sweat and the sheets knotted, but I was safe. The Ghost of Pant-Ripping Past had let me go, but not before ensuring I had learnt my lesson. No more for me the dangerous cocktail of buttock-hugging cottons and outrageous dancing. As a reformed man I promised to wear loose slacks or low-riding denim, and only shuffle around the dancefloor when Michael Buble was playing...

Well, until Bearded Bromance and I have our next cosmopolitan, that is.