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I’ve decided the only thing scarier than buying a new swimsuit is buying new jeans. I went to Panache, my friend Debbie’s wonderful store here in Waupaca—I had hoped—to buy a pair of jeans on sale. I love the Jag jeans she carries. Luckily she had several pairs including some cute, brightly colored, cropped jeans for spring and summer. I was psyched! Until I got into the dressing room. Now, I’m a bit chunkier now than I was several months ago what with winter and all. I tend to put on about five or six pounds each year by February because I don’t exercise enough, but I thought those few pounds wouldn’t matter much. After all, the jeans I’m wearing right now fit, sort of. Okay,  they have become tighter since the snow has flown, but I’m working on that.

This is not the first time I’ve struggled to find a pair of jeans to fit. It has actually been the enduring story of my fashion life. In fact, I didn’t even have a pair of actual jeans until I was eleven years old. You see, I was what I like to call a “sturdy” child, not exactly fat, but by no means thin. By today’s standards I would have been a little thinner than average but back in the late sixties and early seventies I was on the heavy side. That is one reason I loved my Granddaddy Avant so much. He was a big man and the only one who would throw me in the air or pick me up on a regular basis.

I grew up in the time of double knit pants outfits with coordinating if not matching tops which at least allowed me to be somewhat fashionable, but that changed in the seventies, the era of denim. I wanted a pair of blue jeans so badly that every time Mama took me to Augusta for an orthodontist appointment we would search for jeans for me. Are you getting the picture here of a slightly chubby little girl with braces wearing double knit pants and saddle shoes? It’s a wonder I wasn’t bullied. I was a sad sight. I have always been blessed with a smallish waist in comparison to my rear end, and that was part of my jeans fitting problem, but one day we had some success in our search.

Mama and I found a pair of “jeans” at The Beehive, an independent clothes store in Augusta, Georgia. They weren’t exactly Jordache or Dittos (which I coveted), but they were denim. The thing I couldn’t quite get over was that scattered all over the denim at approximately two inch intervals were the images of…motorcycles, kind of Harleyesque, white against the pale blue of the fabric. I didn’t like those motorcycles, but the jeans FIT! I walked out of the dressing room with them on, and Mama was as pleased as I was. I reconciled myself to the motorcycles because I actually was wearing a pair of blue jeans, my first ever. Mama bought them for me, and I wore them proudly, thrilled to be cool like my sister. Oh, to be that certain that coolness came in a pair of jeans!

Times and my body changed for me. I eventually grew up and was able to fit into jeans with regularity, eventually sporting some Jordache and later on Guess jeans. But my preferred jeans in college were boys’ Levis. I even sold them where I worked in Athens, Main Street Britches. There I was introduced to my favorite jeans, the Levis 501, still the best jeans on the planet even though they are no longer made in the U.S. But I digress.

It seems now, as in the past, jeans and swimsuits are still the hardest things for me to buy especially after a cold winter when I’ve been covered up in heavy clothes for a while. Pulling on something that is supposed to fit like a glove exposes all that should remain hidden, at least until it is either tanned or whittled away with a little exercise. I am sure if I tried, I could find a pair of jeans to fit me. I might have to take in the waist to have them fit over the rear end like I had to when I was a young teen, but I have decided to wait to buy new jeans until I have lost the winter pounds. Who knows? Maybe I’ll face my two biggest fears at the same time and buy both a swimsuit and some new jeans. This time, however, they won’t be decorated with motorcycles!