One of the long list of things that made me unpopular in junior high school was that I refused to wear jeans and would instead wear slacks (among other things, see below). It wasn’t a fashion decision or a desire to go formal and look sleek. Had it been that, I would have showered and groomed, two more reasons for my unpopularity. No, the main reason was that I thought jeans were the most uncomfortable thing ever. So from about the fifth grade to about the eighth, I wore no jeans.
It’s funny how little things can have a disproportionate effect on things. The things that you didn’t know that if you had… Looking back, I think that the reason that jeans were so uncomfortable was that they were tight. They were tight because I have large legs in comparison to my waist size. Slacks generally allow for more leg-room, so they were more comfortable to me. They may have made Relaxed Fit jeans back then, I really don’t know because I didn’t shop. Or they may not have because baggy pants weren’t all the rage back then.
Whatever the case, I didn’t have access to them. I want to say “Gosh, if they’d only existed” or “If I’d only known about them” as if it would make all the difference in the world. Looking back, by itself it likely would have made very little difference. I was unpopular for a lot of reasons, my jeans only being a part of it.
The local fashion scene broke a little luck in my favor when I was in the seventh grade with these pants called (I think?) Skidz. Skidz were these thin, baggyish, colorful, stylized non-jean pants that from my recollection were more similar to pajama pants than actual pants. For hot southern summers, they were great. Increasingly, I also pestered my mother for at least a couple shirts that were “in”.
So at least a couple days a week, I was dressing not too far off from some of the most popular kids at school. Yet… somehow… it didn’t help… at all. My tormentor at the time (who later became a friend when I figured out how really to win those people over) accused them of being fakes and so I was one big, fat fake. Also, and this certainly came as a shock to me, Skidz were unbelievably easy to pull down. So even when I was doing things the way I was supposed to, it was still somehow turned around to my disadvantage.
That’s not to say that my aversion to jeans made no difference. The most popular kid could have gotten away with wearing slacks, but not someone like me. It was merely another thing that cemented my level of popularity with other people that couldn’t wear jeans because their mommas wouldn’t let them (like Orson Millard).
Several years later, I was in an English class where we had to write a paper about ourselves. My teacher didn’t like any of my papers and that one was no exception, so I was called in to class early to discuss it. One thing he didn’t understand was my usage of the fact that I wore slacks instead of jeans as indicative of my unconventionality. Out of nowhere, this girl who was serving morning detention interjected and explained exactly what I was trying to say.
When the teacher moved on to someone else, she moved to the desk in front of me and struck up a conversation. She was asking me all sorts of questions about myself in small talk that I would later figure out was the sort of chit-chat you involve yourself in before asking someone out. I think the kids call this “flirting”. I was of course utterly oblivious at the time. She mentioned in the course of the conversation that I reminded her a little bit of this guy that she knew. I jumped onto the familiar name and expressed how completely and awesomely cool the guy was. Turned out that they’d dated and it didn’t end well. Oops. That remains one of the missed opportunities that I’m sorry that I missed. She was a lot more interesting than the girls I actually wanted to date.