Note No. 49
February 2, 2010
This Note is dedicated to my sister, Hils, the best friend a gal could have and a fountain of good advice— the level-headed kind.
So, I just bought two pairs of black pants (Hey, UK. That’s trousers to you), except that I have not taken the price tag off of either one, because I am not sure which one I am keeping.
Now, the significance of this is that I have never, ever really found a pair of black pants that I’ve wanted to commit to. I just haven’t. Ever. Oh, I’ve tried. But I don’t think I am able to kick the association between black pants and uniforms.
During high school, as a symphonic band member, I was made to wear them with a white, button-up shirt and a tie to signify that we had a concert that night. I repeat: a white button-up shirt and a TIE. During school hours. All day. Until the bell rang at 3 o’ clock.
Then, several of my best friends were also made to wear them to work at the movie theatre and again, they were paired with white, collared shirts but this time with a bow tie, so that basically, black pants to me have ALWAYS been of the polyester blend variety that represent the firm hand of authority— and also happen to make your entire bottom half look like a tree stump.
Nonetheless, I still wake up some mornings and decide that THIS is the week that I will find The Ones. I then go to the names I trust, like Zara or H&M or The Gap, depending on what country I am in at the time, and I go from rack to rack, giving each pair a good, hard look before forcing myself to try some on and inevitably handing the whole pile back to the dressing room attendant, my head slightly hung as I mumble: “Nothing really worked out.”
There have been a few times that a pair actually does sneak up to the register with me and actually does end up in a bag with a receipt and actually does make it home to be shown to a few friends, who nod enthusiastically, as they have been trained to do. These new black pants might even get worn out a few times and sometimes they even get complimented but it does not matter, because I do not feel like myself in them, so they inescapably end up in the Goodwill pile to get taken out one day with a bag of other unworn or outgrown items, and another few seasons go by, before I wake up one day and think: “What about black pants?”
And the whole, stupid cycle starts all over again.
Why the dogged pursuit of black pants, despite failure after failure? Because there are plenty of Happy Black Pants Endings— so, so many in fact that I am convinced it’s not them; it’s me.
Black leggings. Now, that is an entirely different story. I could wear black leggings every single day of my life from now till the end, so long as I had enough long shirts to pair them with. But we are not talking about leggings. We are talking about pants.
And not only are we talking about black pants; we are talking about TWO PAIRS of black pants. I have found two pairs and I like them both a lot but I cannot hang onto them both, because I don’t think you’re ALLOWED to have two pairs at once, so it’s one or the other: I am going to return one and keep one.
One pair is seemingly perfect. They can be worn to any occasion, whether it’s dress up or dress down; it just depends on the shirt and the shoes and the accessories that I pair them with. They are comfortable. They are made by a trusted name. They make people comment on how much they suit me, and they are easy to take care of— no turning them inside out, or separating them from other darks, or worse: taking them to the dry cleaner.
Nope. They are just about nearly the perfect pair of black pants— except that I can’t quit thinking about the other pair.
That’s the one that you squint at for a full five seconds before you cock your head ever so slightly to the right, squint a degree harder, stare for another five seconds and finally go: “Yeah.” Pause. “I like them. They look good on you.”
Maybe they do but they don’t go with everything and they can only be worn to certain occasions and well, not that I care that much about brands, but this is one that had to be recalled a few times for one reason or another, and it’s not quite clear who’s doing quality control at the factory these days. I did have to sew a button back on already, right after I bought them.
They really do hug my hips just right, though. And I like that they make me work a little harder to make them work. And I feel safe in them, because I feel like they will wear gently (despite the button incident) and also like there is some shining quality about them that I will not discover until I have really, really worn them for awhile, maybe even a year.
Of course, if I wait till then to decide that I am keeping them, I will not be able to return the nearly perfect pair. And if I return the nearly perfect pair now and then decide a year down the road that there really is nothing special about this second pair, the nearly perfect pair will be long gone— off the market, snatched up, discontinued.
So I am hanging onto both pairs just a little bit longer. The return policy is 30 days, after all, and as long as I don’t wear either one too much, I’ll still be able to keep one and return the other. I think. Maybe not. We’ll see.
Did I mention that I am not actually talking about black pants?