It’s come down to it. I can no longer bring any of the trousers or jeans I own to the seamstress. I have to go out and buy another pair of pants.
This is always a terrible realization. It means I’ll have to enter a store. I can’t simply buy jeans online. That only prolongs the process because you have to try them on at home, look at yourself, and then send them back to repeat the cycle 80 times. That’s how many pairs of pants I have to try on before I find one that fits. I don’t have a “size” I can buy. They’re all damn different on me. And all clothing looks terrible unless it’s tailored.
So…entering a store. “Can I help you with anything?” Yes. Do you have a pair of pants that will not crumble at the crotch and whose buttons will stay on for at least ten years? You do you have a pair of pants that can withstand regular washings and bike riding? These are rhetorical questions. You don’t have anything like that. All you have are trousers whose crotches will crumble and whose buttons will end up rolling down the sidewalk.
Wandering about the clusterfuck of the store. Price tags. All of them scream: “We’re ripping you off.” Everything around me is made in a sweatshop. Everything, from the fabrics to the buttons. People are dying all because my society does not allow me to walk around naked. I’m also not really allowed to walk around in a robe, which I would do if it didn’t mean attracting attention to myself. Pants are a tragedy on the male body. There is no place inside them to be.
Continuing on in the store. Here are all the people. All of them in the act of desiring things. You can feel their desire radiating from them like heat from a stream of lava. I’m always frightened by the shoppers who fondle what they might buy. So many of them rub fabrics. Why does it take so many shapes and colors and designs to satisfy them? Why are there 65 different pairs of socks? Why are there so many different cuts of clothing? Boot cut? What the fuck is that? And here’s some guy who came in with boots. But he goes straight for the skinny jeans. No one tells him, “Hey, smart guy. You need the boot cut. It’s meant for you. Buy it or take those boots off, poseur.”
Now, I’ve found some pants. I have to try them on. Good lord. Mirrors. Mirrors that show me my own ass. My profile. Magnifying mirrors that expose my pores and nose hairs. How is it legal for me to appear in public?
Ok, I guess I’ll take these. They kinda fit. (Really, I’m buying them just to keep from trying on anything else.)
Pay for them. I always feel horrible when I have to exchange money for something. I feel much better buying things for others; at least there is potential for these people to feel joy. The act of buying for myself is an act of masochism. Here, I’ve worked for this money but I never get to keep any of it. I am simply a filter, a vessel, a passage: money moves through my bank account into the bank accounts of others. They win and I lose. What do I get out of the deal? Fucking pants. These jeans will be worthless so soon as I walk out of this store, and they barely fit. Within a short time they will fall apart, and I will need new ones. To buy pants is to have sex with the universe’s state of impermanence.
It is also to examine your own contribution to the speedy destruction of a planet.
This is what frightens me about stores: the pitch that you have a choice inside them. What choice do you have? To avoid prison, you must have pants, and to buy pants you must give away some portion of your worth, often to people who loathe you and laugh at you, think you’re a sucker for falling prey to their meticulously constructed marketing program, a scam designed by experts in psychology and desire. If you buy the black jeans or the brown corduroys, the result is the same.
No store in Chicago will accept a kind trade of home-grown tomatoes for pants. No one will accept a short story in exchange for socks. There is no one in the city that sells clothing made from cotton they grew in their back yard, fabric woven in their garage. You must always exchange money for something made in a way you know is destroying the earth. The alternative is to spend even more money, and this only for a pair of pants that destroys the earth in a slightly different way. This is not a choice. If you think it is, I have a condo you should like to buy.
So, there it is. Pants tell me I’m ugly, I’ve been tricked and I’m destroying myself. Wear, wash, discard, repeat.