A ripping yarn

15 Nov

No question. My bum looks big in these.

Most weeks you’ll find me wearing snot, porridge and chocolate. On the days where accidents happen (me or the children) you could add some blood, shit and piss to the mix, but nobody can really tell the difference. The things that decorate my clothes look like generic stains in different hues, and the only thing that truly sets them apart is the smell, but you wouldn’t really want to get that close.

When I undress in the evening I often take a backwards glance at myself in the mirror to see what I’ve sat on that day. Yesterday evening I did just that  and saw a pretty impressive rip on the arse of my favourite red jeans. I gasped in horror and wondered if anyone I’d spent the evening with had noticed. They were all men so probably not. My husband, in bed, laughed and told me helpfully that he thought they were a little on the small side. Earlier that day at the greengrocers my 10-year-old had said in a too-loud voice:  “A 42-year-old shouldn’t really wear jeans like that.” I am actually 34, but, snide remarks aside, I told my husband that they were in fact meant to be tight and obviously the tear was a fault of the cheap fabric. I don’t think he bought that, but consoled myself with the well-known fact that baggy denim on any arse is not a good look.

I’m now faced with the dilemma of taking the jeans back to Topshop. Of course I don’t have the receipt any more. It’s been at least six weeks since I bought them and I’m absolutely awful at holding onto anything made of paper. I have a shoebox that is stuffed with cab slips and restaurant bills that the taxman is never going to accept but this one is not in there. (And let’s face it, why would red jeans be a necessary expense for any line of work?) I’m also wondering whether I should wash them before I attempt their return. The sticky hands of small children claw at my legs on a regular basis, and I don’t – much to my mother’s dismay – wear an apron to cook. To prevent thrice daily laundering, I adopt the wet sponge approach: any area of dirt, big or small, can be dabbed off in a matter of seconds.

I have already rehearsed the scenario. The 12-year-old sales girl at Brixton Topshop will eye me up as I approach the till and ask me if I need any help. I will think yes, I need help but not the kind you could give me. Then I will empty the contents of an H&M bag (of course I’ve thrown away the Topshop one) and pull out my  jeans, clean in my opinion, but filthy in hers. I will explain that I have only worn them a handful of times (read 30) and point out the rip on the arse. I will say they were a present from my mum and then worry ridiculously that they spend time catching out people like me by watching CCTV footage and saying things like “That girl’s a liar.  That’s not her mum handing over the cash, that’s her!”

I will then mutter that they are practically new and I’d expect more wear out of jeans like these. The girl will then spread the jeans flat on the counter and inspect the various stains on the thighs. Grease, snot, chocolate. She doesn’t look like she wants to touch them and looks up at me with pity in her eyes. “It looks like these have been worn more than a few times. And the colour seems to have faded.”

“Ah, yes…” I will reply, “That’s another thing. The dying process that Topshop uses seems to mean that clothes fade after the first wash.”

“We’ve never had any problems like this before. Could I ask you what size you are? Perhaps the fabric was pulling a little?” – ie your bum is too big for these.

That’ll be my cue to leave, tail between my legs. Another precious half day wasted, I will return home with my ruined jeans and they will end up on the pile of things to mend, customise or put into the rags bag for charity. I am, as the girl at the Topshop counter knew from they moment she clapped eyes on me, not very clever.


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