Friends, there is good news.
Washington may be roiling with dissension and dysfunction. Climate may be changing for the worse. The supermarket may always be out of advertised specials. But, be of good cheer: The pre-soiled jeans have arrived!
In case this heartening development somehow escaped your attention, recent published accounts inform us that a major department store chain is selling jeans that appear to be splashed with mud.
Advertising copy says a blend of dyes, bleaches, paints and other substances “evokes a rugged, well-worn appearance that’s put in long hours at the shop, styled for the man who’s getting ready to head off into the night.”
Let’s see if we can grasp the idea at play here.
Apparently, the marketing folks believe there is a desire on the part of young (no doubt), male white-collar workers to parade in the guise of their blue-collar counterparts without signing up for the sort of job certain to put the dirt in dirty jeans.
Alone, that is a high enough concept, but what are we to make of “getting ready to head off into the night?”
This suggests there are members of the dude class who work, let’s say, as Wall Street derivative traders by day, and then, when it is time to boogie down, think it clever to arrive at a bar or club looking like they just came from a construction site and had not bothered to go home and shower.
Meanwhile, men who spend eight hours at gritty labor are eager to crawl out of their crummy duds, change into something snazzy and head “into the night” looking hygienic and well-laundered.
Which of our two fellows do you suppose will be more likely to attract the female gaze — the impostor in artificially enhanced jeans or the real-life construction guy with enough good sense to arrive at happy hour fresh and clean?
Forgive a stifled sigh.
It’s not only counterfeit crud on clothes for men.
For years we have seen women in pre-torn attire — Cinderella chic.
And I just noticed on the web that a haberdasher in Texas sells cowboy hats that look like they’d been worn on a cattle drive — nicely dappled with trail muck and sweat marks. For a little extra, the buyer can add imitation “blood initials” on the bottom of the brim.
The appeal of fake stuff — weird, don’t you think? Since when was phony such a big deal?
Somehow, the whole business makes me think of my mother, the absolutely 100 percent genuine Winnie of Brooklyn.
Mom was a grand soul, really, forward looking and aware but easily amazed by the changing scene.
Once we put my father’s old 16 mm movies on a VCR tape and told Mom — then in her 80s — there was going to be something special on television.
As the familiar black-and-white scenes of summers in Southampton and trips to visit relatives in New Jersey flickered on the screen, Mom, astounded, said what she always did when confronted with what once might have seemed unbelievable: “Oh, my.” Sometimes she meant approval. Sometimes, not.
Remembering her fondly, our family often plays a kind of game called, “What would Mom say?”
If, for instance, we’re visiting the old neighborhood and there is another espresso shop where the butcher used to be, someone asks the inevitable question. What would Mom say? We know the answer — there was only one — but that doesn’t matter. We ask, anyway.
Same if we spot a fancy doghouse on the corner where, for a fee, pet owners can park their pooches while shopping for baby kale at a nearby market. Or if there are advertisements for apartments that rent for more each month than Mom made in 12 as a Wall Street secretary.
Her acknowledgment of the changing scene always came with a touch of caution, I think. Mom was judging how quickly the world was turning and what it all meant. Not everything new was good, she was well aware. Home movies on television — that was swell. A high-end coffee shop that put the butcher out of business, another story.
It’s been 25 years since Winnie, at 91, slipped out of Brooklyn for whatever comes next. How she’d handle the 21st century, I’m not sure — Internet grocery shopping, endless tweets, plug-in cars, pocket phones that talk to you and take snapshots. On those, she’d probably adjust.
Paying 300 bucks for a brand-new pair of jeans that look like they belong in the washing machine? Oh, my.