Friday, 15 July 2011

Butt, I Wanted to Wear Those Pants in This Relationship

For Regan Jackson because it was his birthday. 
For Carol Vicarage because, well, you know why. 

I developed a keen interest in op-shopping and secondhand store scavenging in my early teens. I still have a jacket I bought from an op-shop at Mount Maunganui when I was 14, both because it is a cute little jacket full of character, and also because it was such a bargain - the best bargain I have ever come across - and it symbolises all that is good with secondhand items.

By the time I was 16 I was well educated in this area. One Saturday morning I was scouring the various stalls at Paddy's Market - an annual fair for St Paul's Presbyterian Church in Katikati where I grew up - when I stumbled across another bargain. Score!

I had found the fabric stall. Being a keen sewer with an adequate level of technical skill (and an unfortunately low interest in patience and precision to a degree which horrified my mother), I was eager to transform this fabric into something worthy of the character of the print. I had found a piece of fabric that had been stored since the 1970's.

It was only right to make something great. Flares were in order. Big, 1970's flares. Luckily I had just the right pattern. I set to it and my creation was constructed in a couple of hours.

My mother had warned it would never work. The fabric had no give to speak of, as well as no strength to support the movement that would be required of it. I told her I knew what I was doing - as 16 year old's are inclined to do.

I wore these pants to the next school mufti day. I paid my $1. I felt good. I looked good. My new pants were a perfect fit, and peculiar enough for me to feel that I had not fallen into the crowd. As we were exciting form class, down the wet wooden step, this boy I liked told me I had cool pants. He was right. I did have cool pants.

Not long after, the pants went into storage. I can't remember how it happened (truly, I can't!) but somehow the seam in the crutch split and rendered these pants unwearable. My mother was right, the fabric couldn't cut it.

Earlier this year these vintage pants were rediscovered. My parents were doing that thing where they make sure you have well and truly flown the nest. The wardrobe in the spare room was no longer my own private storage space. With what was mine I either had to claim it, or it would cark-it.

I couldn't let these pants kick the bucket. I asked mum if she could fix them. She said "I'll get me lady to do it," meaning the local woman who makes clothing alterations for a small fee.

Last week I got my beloved pants back. The following Saturday was moving day, and I thought this was a prime opportunity to try out my trusty old trousers. The first thing for me to do was take a ar load of boxes and books to Phillip and Carol's place. They're keeping them in their garage for me while I am away. I lifted and stacked, and lifted and stacked, and all was well.

On my way back to the beach I called in at New World in Waihi so I could bring some more banana boxes back with me. I spoke to the guy in the produce department and he headed out the back.

The thing with the Waihi New World is that every time I'm there I have to get some dried mango slices from the pick and mix section. They are so tasty and this particular brand can be hard to come buy. I made my selection and waited for his return. He came back carrying four boxes stacked one of top of the other. He asked me if I wanted a trolley and I said thanks, but I should be fine.

It was a little awkward as I took them from him; clutching my wallet and my mango slices while trying to get a good grip. The top box was above my head which meant that I walked at an odd angle around the corner to the checkout chick.

Despite my light load I remembered to use good lifting and lowering practice. I bent at the knees and placed my boxes on the floor. I waited in line and was aware that I couldn't waste much time (it was still moving day after all). Each time I moved up the line I would use my foot to slide the stack of boxes a few steps ahead of me.

She scanned my mango, I paid her $2 and I bend down to pick up my boxes. This time though, my trousers did not bend to the shape of my bottom.

With a sufficient level of surprise I informed the checkout operator that unfortunately I had just split my pants. The terrible thing is that these trousers weren't even tight - truly! I had had to hold them together with a safety pin. And what's worse, it wasn't even a tiny little tear, it was a gigantic rip right up the rear. With as much grace as I could muster I stood and walked out the door, albeit as discretely as I could, keeping my back to the wall were possible.

The trick to walking the streets of Nairobi as a white woman on your own is to exude confidence - look like you know where you're going and what you're doing, even if you don't. The trick to walking out of a supermarket with a hole in your pants the size of you hand is similar; exude confidence. That's waht I did anyway, and I think it worked.

The only saving grace of that mornings events is that I was wearing a large black scarf. Once in the safety of the foyer I stood with my back to the small plants sections and wrapped this unendingly useful piece of fabric around my waist and tied it together on my right hip. Wardrobe malfunction successfully managed!

When I reflect on what those pants represent for me I am reminded that I am too quick to hold on to things longer than I need to. I should have been content to allow those pants to be a good thing for a moment in time, and then moved on. That's why I'm not getting them fixed again.

In this relationship I have with life I wanted to wear those pants, because they were mighty fine pants. They represented creativity and uniqueness, ingenuity and experimentation. But at the end of the day they are still only a pair of pants, and I couldn't pretend they were anything more. It's time for me to let them go. This is their memorial. Farewell.