Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The Infamous Red Jeans Story.
I had the great advantage of attending Catholic School from grades K-8. The school of my youth was the one of strict discipline and nuns vigilantly watching over you for aberrant behaviors. In spite of that, I enjoyed my time there and made the most of the advantages offered to me. One of the advantages for a poorer kid, was the requirement to wear the same uniform each day. I looked the same as the more affluent kid who sat next to me, and survived with 2 pair of blue corduroys to my name. As I approached High School in 1979, however, I realized that the game was about to change.
I paid a lot of attention during the start of that Summer as to what kids wore (I admit some trepidation of going from a class of 30 to a school of nearly 1200). My research quickly showed me that the preferred pants of my soon to be peers were denim Blue Jeans. This created a conundrum at home, as I did not own a pair. Although I worked as a paper boy, the money I earned seemed to find it's way out of my pockets very quickly especially in the Summer around the time of the Cheshire Carnival and St. Mary's Festival. So, what to do?
We had a tradition in our household that we would each make a list of our Birthday Wishes, and post them on the fridge a few weeks prior to your birthday. My parents were always good about giving you at least one item from your list. With that in mind, I calculated a no- lose strategy that would insure that I would be wearing denim by the end of June (my birthday is the 10th ). My list looked something like this....
(I think you get the picture).
My Birthday fast approached with me having no worries as to my clever plan succeeding. On that day, we had my favorite dinner (Shake and Bake Pork Chops), and after the obligatory spanking (that always seemed to exceed the number of years that you actually were), I was ready to open my presents. I opened a gift of Growing Rocks from my brother, some underwear from my folks, and finally had a rectangular package in hand that had the sufficient weight to be jeans. I tore open the package and peered inside, and my jaw about fell to the floor.
Nestled inside the tissue paper, was a pair of denim-like material, but they were Cherry Red. I said "Ma, what are these?" She replied, beaming " Turn them over!". I did, and the label clearly read " Big Wheel Jeans". I had suffered a serious setback in my quest for Blue Jeans, by not being specific enough on my list. I tried to keep a brave face as I went through the rest of my packages and suddenly I came upon a second box of similar heft that just had to be Jeans. I cautiously opened this package, and what do you think I saw? That's right, a second pair of Big Wheel Cherry Red Jeans. My mother proudly exclaimed " They were 2 for $10!!" She was always a great bargain shopper.
Needless to say I started H.S. with red jeans being a significant portion of my wardrobe. Try as I might, I could not create the schedule, with the pants available to me, to not wear them twice in a week. Once during science class I was challenged by a girl behind me " Didn't you wear those yesterday?" I proudly answered her with " Nope, I have 2 pair of these Bad Boys!" I even removed the tag from the pair I was wearing to show her next time, that I did indeed have 2 pair. Compounding the difficulty of having a wardrobe that was comprised of 50% red denim, was my absolute lack of fashion sense. I frequently would wear my red jeans with a red plaid long sleeved shirt. Many days I was mistaken for a rodeo clown on his way to work ( I was kind of pasty too).
So my first semester in HS went agonizingly slow, but during it I was able to secure a better after school job. This quickly afforded me the opportunity to buy my first pair of Levi's. I credit the outgoing personality and my ability to tell stories and jokes in large part to the days I spent surviving that first semester of Canandaigua High School. You truly have not lived, until you lived in that school wearing red denim. Since that fateful day, I have purchased my own clothing, and even secured the services of a fashion consultant but, I have never owned a pair of red jeans since.