By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Exasperated, I'm telling my friend B.K. that if she really wants me to help hip-ify her life, she should cooperate. "I never asked you to do anything," she says, standing before me in this hip store holding a stack of way overly hip (for our age) jeans.
"You're the one who said you wanted to go jeans shopping," I say.
"I never said anything about needing help getting hip," she says.
Exactly. Do the unhip ever have a clue that they are not hip? Hipness is a conscious decision, a noticing. Hipness requires action, sometimes even intervention, as is the case here. For years now, I've known that B.K. wears her jeans too short. The situation is not rectifying itself. I am here to rectify and hip-ify. Here I come to save the day.
"How do we know that you're hipper than I am?" she asks, ridiculously.
"I just saw a TV show all about this," I tell her. Specifically a show about women finding age-appropriate jeans. "Did you just see a TV show about it?"
"No," she says.
Ahem. Then let us proceed. I flip through the stack of jeans she has chosen to try on. "Sweetie, we can't do studs," I point out.
"We're too old for studs and too old for rips," I say. "Got that? Now take these out of my sight."
"Look, I just want some jeans," she says. "You're the one who said I should go fashion-forward."
"There's forward, and then there's overboard," I explain. "Overboard is when you walk out of your house one day feeling exactly as you felt that day in eighth grade when you went to school wearing that red, white and blue belt with the long, red suede fringe hanging down, down, down all the way to your left ankle."
She squints at me, reminds me that this was not her fashion disaster, but mine.
"We all had that moment," I say. As we age, we must move further and further from the possibility of that moment. "This is one reason you see a lot of old ladies wearing Navy pants and knit tops with little anchors on them," I explain. "Nobody questions nautical in the elderly. Nautical is safe for the elderly."
B.K. then shakes her head as if to clear her sinuses of some impaction.
"Fashion is a tricky business," I point out. "Trick-y."
We return to the racks and search. "I want to see length," I tell her. "You must start wearing longer jeans." I tell her about the college kids on the campus I frequent. "The jeans sit on the hips, extend to the ground, where the heel tramples on them constantly and causes them to fray. It's all about the fray."
"You just said we're too old for rips," she says.
"A rip is not fray!" I say. "A rip is intentional. Fray happens. Fray is earned."
"I don't know about this --"
It takes a lot of coaching, but eventually I persuade her to
go long. I persuade her to go with the larger pocket, visually enhancing her booty, even though she rightly points out that we are, in fact, too old to say "booty." I persuade her to go with the darker wash, elongating the leg, and the dark stitching, a sophisticated look that can work on dress-down days at the
PR office where she works.
"These are way too long," she says, looking in the three-way mirror. "You don't think this is ridiculous?"
"I think only of the excellent fray in your future," I assure her, and soon enough, MasterCard in hand, my friend B.K. commits to a new jeans relationship. "This is exciting," she admits. "Buying new jeans is like stepping into a new era of your life."
About two weeks into the new era, I get a call from B.K.'s boss, who is a mutual friend. "I just wanted you to know B.K. is fine," he says. "The X-rays were all clear."
I have no idea what he is talking about.
"She didn't call you on the way to the hospital?" he asks. "I thought that was you she was talking to on her cellphone."
No, apparently another friend. The hospital?
He explains that B.K. took a fall, at a restaurant, after excusing herself during a client lunch to go to the restroom. Everyone saw it. Everyone. "Her pants were too long," he says. Her pants caught underneath her high heels, and over the slick wood floor they became skis. "She slid far," he says. "There were trays flying. A lot of crashing." He says that she was in such pain that he took her to the emergency room in case she had broken anything. "That's why I'm calling. She's fine."
"She was wearing . . . jeans?" I ask, to clarify. He confirms. "With high heels?"
"Well, pretty high."
I thank him for his report, hang up, hang my head in defeat. Do I apologize? Do I have to? She chose not to consult me before making that ridiculous high heel decision. The phone rings. It's B.K. "No, I do not want to go shoe shopping," she says, preemptively.
No, we will wait until the swelling goes down.
Jeanne Marie Laskas's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.