My family bought me clothes as holiday gifts for most of my adult life. I never asked for clothes for Christmas, but they always knew what I needed when I did not. Blue jeans, collared shirts, undershirts, coats, gloves and those warm pants with the lines on them always found their way to my family’s Christmas tree in suburban Chicago. Most boys dismissed these types of gifts, but I appreciated them. Growing took a visible toll on my adolescent wardrobe and appearance. My shirts became so small that the armpits discolored with deodorant stains. Sitting transformed my blue jeans into denim capris. I figured I would dress myself in style permanently and economically once I stopped getting bigger.
Bigger is a funny word because it has two dimensions. I stopped getting taller in my mid teens and enjoyed some glorious years of size stability. I never imagined I would grow wider but indeed began to last summer. Shorts were not on my list of holiday gifts because I wore the same pair for 14 years. The length was just right. And when my waist became an issue last summer, I undid the button and let the zipper do the holding. That little trick was permissible in a sweat-drenched summer full of poolside sunbathing and book reading. I thought I might do the same thing with my pants in the fall until I saw a television commercial that made me serious about blue jeans. I saw Brett Favre play football comfortably in tough, lasting Wranglers.
I used to play in an annual tackle football game on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a lasting tradition known to the Libertyville High School class of 2006 as the Turkey Bowl. The rosters consisted of former high school athletes and sports fans. We played the game in all conditions, so nobody thought to wear blue jeans except for the unfortunate few who did not know what to expect for their first game. I woke up those Saturday mornings with a sore body, a bruised ego and a destroyed pair of pants. Brett Favre would not.
I am not a Brett Favre fan, and I do not approve of his alleged improprieties. But man can that guy have fun playing football with his friends in rugged blue jeans. He drives to his friendly games in a pickup truck with his dog to meet 13 friends who all decide to wear Wrangler blue jeans because they are also tough guys who play football in tough blue jeans. The truck is a little weathered, the jeans are a little weathered, and Favre’s face looks like an old catcher’s mitt. But this is all awesome because that is where we all are headed. I want to be 72 years old and call up a baker’s dozen to play football in a country meadow. I want to be bad to the bone like Brett.
My growing waist size and this commercial convinced me to buy a pair of Wranglers, so my girlfriend and I spent a nice little Saturday in the fitting rooms at the Durham Wal-Mart. I was surprised to discover that Wranglers come in different styles. I tried the regular style first. They were enormous. They looked like carpenter’s jeans without the hammer loop. They were not what I remembered from the commercial and would not do. The original cowboy style deserved its name. The fly zipper was a foot long and would wrap all the way back to my rear end. I decided not to try the original cowboy.
Most of the styles were too big. The only style that would fit a guy like me was slim straight. One pair will do, I thought. Wranglers last forever. Wal-Mart did not have my size, so I ordered my one pair of Wranglers in the parking lot on my iPhone. They arrived yesterday, and I have worn them ever since. I am sorry to admit they look a lot like the Gap jeans my parents bought me years ago. They are as yuppie as Wrangler can get, but they are Wrangler in name. I am ready to play some pickup football. I am ready to wrangle.