A Life Wrecked by Blue Jeans
By Jennifer S. Pholse
Without a doubt, the most popular clothing in the United States today is blue jeans. Few people can honestly say that they never wear jeans, and most people would have a gaping hole in their wardrobe if jeans were suddenly removed. After my experience with jeans, however, I have been forced to conclude that the puny benefits associated with them and the feeling of being "with it" just aren't worth the hassle. What follows is the sad story of how jeans transformed me from a happy, successful young woman into an empty, wrecked shell of a life.
Before 1994, I had never worn jeans. They just weren't ladylike enough for me, and I never missed them. Everyone I knew-- except for my husband-- told me I was crazy, but I had a happy, joyful, solid marriage, a wonderful family, and even a good part-time job as a receptionist for a local dentist, so I didn't pay much attention to the naysayers. My husband Bill kept telling me he liked me just the way I was, and since that was all that really mattered to me, I was reluctant to make any unnecessary changes.
December 25, 1994 was the day that would change my life irreparably. My cousin Marianne decided that I just wasn't "hip" enough for the '90s, so she bought me a pair of blue jeans for Christmas. I wasn't going to wear them, but I saw the look of disappointment on Marianne's face, so I decided to give them a try just to humor her.
Nothing seemed to come of it at first, and since Marianne would be seeing me often, I decided to break down and wear the jeans occasionally. I have to admit that I did enjoy the admiring glances men started to give me, and even Bill found himself especially attracted to me when I wore them. We talked about it quite a bit and decided that we'd been wrong about jeans; denim was just another fabric, after all, just like polyester or cotton, and who were we to judge it?
Soon into the new year, though, things started to go downhill. First, it was the hamster. One day we looked in its cage and found that it had broken a leg. We took it to the veterinarian, but after six hours of surgery, two weeks in traction, and a $2500 bill, it died anyway. I didn't attribute it to the jeans, but we were all left perplexed over why something like this would happen (not to mention where we'd get the $2500).
Next, it was Bill's car. Nothing had ever gone wrong with it before, but all of a sudden the "Check air conditioning" light came on and wouldn't go off. This was doubly strange because Bill's car didn't have an air conditioner and never did from the day we bought it new from the dealer. He took it to the repair shop and was told that the only solution was to install an air conditioning unit at a cost of $750.00. We were dumbfounded but went ahead with the repair-- what else could we do? Dense as we were, we still hadn't figured the jeans to have anything to do with it.
A few weeks later, we noticed that the electric radiators in our home were not keeping the house warm, so we called for service, and the technician informed us that we had had a "puff-back" which caused our boiler to disappear entirely, and we had to install a new boiler immediately or risk an explosion. This resulted in another $2000 expenditure.
In March of 1995, little Kathy started feeling chest pains. We took her to the doctor, who did an x-ray and discovered to our horror that she had been born without an appendix and would need an emergency transplant. As we sat in the hospital room sweating profusely, hoping that they would be able to find a suitable donor for our poor daughter, we tried to think of why everything seemed to be going wrong of late (including many things I don't have space to mention here), but we still hadn't hit on the jeans, and I still wore them often. In fact, I was wearing them when the first donor appendix was placed into Kathy, but that transplant was rejected by her body. By some stroke of luck, the second transplant took, but we were growing weary of all the accumulated misfortune.
By May, things had really taken a turn for the worse. Bill was diagnosed with an acute case of isocardial trioradopathy, and his doctor told him that he would need massive doses of expensive antidepressants in order to stave off the depression that would certainly kill him if not treated. Because by this time we were flat broke, Bill and I reluctantly agreed to try skipping the medicine, but he grew so despondent at having such a terrible disease and not being able to treat it that his condition deteriorated quickly, and within two months he was dead.
Then, over the summer, Janet and Diane were playing in front of a wheelchair dealer's shop when a fellow who had just purchased a new motorized version came charging from the store without looking where he was going, hit my two daughters, and knocked them both to the ground. The owner of the shop came to see what happened, looked at their injuries, and determined that they were both paralyzed for life. The only bright spot in this was that he generously offered us a 10% discount on a pair of new wheelchairs-- but I was still wondering why all these things were happening.
Shortly afterward, in October, everything fell apart. My oldest daughter, Peggy, was playing in the school band alongside a tuba player who took a breath that was a bit too deep and sucked her right into his tuba. The paramedics were unable to remove her from the tuba, and she too died. As I was in the hospital holding Peggy's hand as she died, a young intern came out and noticed that I had hair cancer. As soon as Peggy died, they rushed me into the operating room, but the intern found that the cancer had spread to my eyelashes and was thus inoperable. All he could do was offer me some more expensive, experimental medicine.
I went home totally devastated, only to return to see my home in a ball of flames. I asked the fire chief what happened, and he told me that the fire fighters needed some extra practice, and they figured that since I wasn't around, I wouldn't mind if they used my home.
The next day, I went to work, but apparently my dentist-boss made the mistake of working on a patient alone, and she accused him of recommending bad stocks, which ruined his practice when a story about it appeared on a bulletin board in the local supermarket. People were canceling appointments left and right, and since he had no witnesses to prove that his recommendations were nothing but respectable blue-chip Fortune 500 companies, he was powerless to do anything but close the practice, so I lost my job.
Since I, now unemployed, had nothing to do, I decided to go to the roller rink and skate a bit to calm my nerves. The rink got rather crowded. A young child-- I didn't even see if it was a boy or a girl-- crossed behind me while losing his balance and grabbed my jeans for a moment causing me to fall backwards. I had loads of time on the way down to regret being there and consider what the results were going to be. I managed to equalize the damage between my wrists, elbows, collar bone, and bottom so that nothing was broken. Everything just hurt really badly. The bruises still showed two months later, though. Even then, I hadn't realized what was probably causing all my troubles.
The following week, I was still in a daze, wondering what to make of all this, when my brother sent me a postcard from California. He said, "Please don't call because you and everyone near you seem to be rather unfortunate these days. Maybe it's those jeans." I hadn't considered the possibility seriously until then, but my brother had an uncanny way of sifting the truth from the fiction in a situation, so I thought long and hard about it. I realized that life had been so much better before those blasted jeans, and really I had been such a fool to throw away a good life just for a lousy pair of denim blue jeans. From that point, I firmly resolved to wear jeans no more.
My life was already ruined, but right after that, things did begin to brighten somewhat. A local tent company offered to donate a tent for us to use as our home until we could rebuild (provided that we display a large sign reading "Courtesy of Beaverton Tent Company"). My doctor was flabbergasted to find that my cancer was completely gone, so much so that he fell to the floor in shock and sustained a concussion, but when he tried to sue me his lawyer said that he'd never take the case because nobody could ever win it. Then just last month, I met this wonderful man who works in a florist shop. He's the sweetest fellow and is always giving me flowers of some sort or other. I'm hoping he'll pop the question soon, but with my life in such a shambles, I don't know if he'll be able to rise to the challenge.
Finally, last week, Marianne came to visit again. This time, she suggested that I'd look just darling in this cute miniskirt that she saw in the store. "Take a hike," I said to her in plain, loud, clear English.