My boyfriend Jake and I are having a yard sale today from 9:00 to 3:00. It just turned 9:01. I am in distress.
It’s my splendiferous collection of jeans, displayed lovingly on a large piece of cardboard, that’s paining me. I’ve spent the past two days trying to determine which of my many pairs I could bear to relinquish. My guiding principle was, “If I’ll probably never fit into them again, they have to go.”
“Will I ever fit into these again?” Had Shakespeare understood women’s issues, he’d have jettisoned “To be or not to be. . .” for these very words. For what can be worse than discovering, one pair after another, that there’s no fucking way?
As I try to tug yet another pair of old favorites past my knees, I tell myself, “If I think like a thirty-five year old, live on kale and and tofu and ice my Achille’s tendon twelve times a day, these will fit again.”
For a moment, this seems like a real possibility.
Then reality washes over me.
Fighting tears, I call a friend. “I was always in shape,” I burble. “I taught aerobics, kickboxed, was training for a marathon. Now I can’t even use the elliptical.” I blow my nose, put a hand to my forehead and wail, “I’m beginning to look like my mother!”
Eventually I quiet down, listen to reason, and agree to renew my vow: I’ll sell all the jeans that will never slip over my hips again, and even those I can get the zipper halfway up.
Saturday finds me surprisingly eager to be rid of every pair of self-punishing jeans that I own. I feel invigorated, empowered.
There’s just one rub. I’ve priced them at $5.00 apiece.
At a yard sale, $5.00 is a lot to ask for jeans. I know this. But that slightly faded pair on the left? I sported them on Jake’s and my first date. The boot-cut Levi’s in the center? I wore them in my glory days, once to a memorably delicious Thanksgiving dinner after I’d run ten miles. The capri’s beside them? They’d fit so perfectly, when I had them on, my ex would abandon his power tools to fuck me.
Morning morphs into afternoon. Only one woman has expressed interest in the jeans, and after learning what I’m asking, she promptly lowered them back to the cardboard. As people mill about, I scan the crowd for women with builds similar to mine. This one’s too hippy; that one’s too waifish; the rest are just too damn short.
I don’t know which will bring greater despair, lowering my prices or returning home with a huge pile of jeans that won’t fit unless I come down with mad cow disease or scurvy.
I begin to lower my prices.
At 2:30 I make my one and only sale. Two pairs for $4.00. And that’s after long and heated negotiation.
By 4:00, every car that pulls up causes anxiety, anticipation, hope, and dread. The emotions battle, mingle and coalesce, like an internal kaleidescope gone out of control. Who’s climbing out of the passenger seat? Is it a woman? How tall is she? What might she weigh?
Is there a chance she’ll buy my jeans?
By 4:55, I’m ready to chase cars down the street, jeans between my teeth, like a rabid dog.
Sometime after 5:00, when the last customer walks off, Jake starts putting unsold items back in the garage. I help, but I’m still preoccupied with my boot-cut Levi’s and perfectly faded, Gap semi-flares. Somebody — somebody in great shape, who lives on Special K, soymilk and tuna without mayo — somebody who can’t begin to imagine what she’ll look and feel like at forty-seven — please, I beg you. Give my jeans a home.Charlie: The Conclusion | The Message →