Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Legend of the exploding pants

I was stepping over a thornbush at Oppikoppi the weekend when my jeans exploded. Torn asunder, from the crotch out. It was my second pants explosion of the weekend.
            A lesser man would have taken this as nature’s comment on my physique, as some kind of warning that two gym visits a week might not be cutting it. But I am savvier than that.
            I know I just have weak jeans.
            My jean pool has not been augmented for years now. The best I’ve done is take five pairs to Levingers and have them patched, which is good as far as it goes, but not foolproof.
            Curiously, the one part of a jean pant they don’t patch is the crotch. And those things dissolve. After ten years – whisper it, not my oldest jeans – there’s little fabric of integrity left to attach patches to.
            The other pants exploded when I was climbing under a fence. It’s the squatting motion that does it, as I’m sure other people have noted.
            So what has got me into this predicament, this spiral of jeanetic kakness? Nostalgia, that’s what it is. Nostalgia.
            You’re probably still at home, go look in your wardrobe. You’ll see a cupboard full of memories. With us humans starring only furtively with our clothes off, every great experience of our lives will be linked to the set of clothes we were wearing when it happened.
            With ladies this might be more common, and with all of us, the effect in our memories is enhanced by the photos of us in our clothes, which we’ve had ever since.
            Highlights of my personal collection of finery include the shorts I wore when we got lost in the Kalahari for six hours, an 07 Bok jersey signed by Jake White, my Comrades shorts, a jean I had on when I jammed with Vusi Mahlasela and baggies from this pool party with Lee-Ann Liebenberg.
            A cupboard of some glory then, you’ll agree. Yours is no doubt every bit as illustrious.
            These garments are hard to let go of. Even when they explode halfway up the hill there by the Skellum stage. Rest assured, there’s a lot of soul-searching going on about those pants. They may yet ride again.
            But of course when we fling our wardrobe doors wide each morning, we don’t ponder the road we’ve walked with our clothes, we decide what we should wear for the day ahead.
            What would be a good shirt for a consultation? For an engagement braai? For a birthday party at Taboo? What shoes for three days in the bush? What dress for a pitch meeting? What kind of trucker cap to interview Chuck D of Public Enemy?
            So many choices, and once made, the garments forever carry some of the essence of the occasions they have graced. They will be imbued with the spirit of those events, as much as they have helped to create them.
            Our wardrobes, our collections of clothes, stand at the nexus of our lives, where the past meets the future.
            Some are fresh, yet to accumulate much history. Others may never be worn again, least of all because paisley waistcoats are out of fashion, but because we might have had them on at Kath’s birthday party that time in Parktown.
            It’s a gallery of memories, an arsenal of weapons, a selection of power-up shields and, okay, some stuff to keep you warm and hide your dangly bits.
            But sometimes you gotta let go. You can’t fetishise every garment you ever had a good time in. So my illustrious, exploded Levi’s will be passed along to Dennis at the gate, to do with as he sees fit.
            If I wasn’t able to let go of my historic outfits, I’d still have that orange T-shirt I had on when I held hands with Lindy Betheldo at Newton Park Pre-Primary. Wonder what happened to that thing.
            Oh yes! Torn during the all-Lorraine mud-pie fight by the river. I’d started growing out of it by that stage. It was far too small for me.

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