As you may have already figured out, I have a slight addiction to Pinterest. When I was pinning ideas for gluten free side dishes the other day, I noticed that one of the people I’m following had pinned an outfit to her “My Style” board. It was an outfit where the model was wearing a pair of white skinny jeans. “Oh no, no, no,” I thought. White jeans. Suddenly, I was hurdled 22 years into my past (insert Wayne and Garth’s homage to Scooby-Doo here) and was, once again, riddled with humiliation, thinking about MY pair of white jeans.
It was the fall of 1991 (oh my god, I’m old) and I was 15 going on 16 (I’m suddenly singing a Sound of Music song), starting a new high school in Michigan as a new student in the tenth grade. First of all, let me just say that starting a new school was always horrible. Talk about butterflies in the stomach! But starting a new school as a teenager was the worst. But I was all decked out in my new back to school outfit and feeling brave. For those of you born after 1991 (oh my god, I’m old enough to be your mother) or those of you who have forgotten the fashion missteps of the early 1990s, neon was all the rage and white jeans were IN.
So there I was in my turquoise B.U.M. Equipment t-shirt that covered me to my waist and my high-waisted white jeans and white Keds sneakers, on my first day of 10th grade. I’ll set the scene: Lunchtime. The cafeteria. Round tables with plastic bucket chairs filled with strangers. I quickly pick a seat next to a girl that was in my homeroom. Lunch commences. And then I stand up. Homeroom Girl tells me there’s something on my pants. I look down. My brown plastic bucket chair (I’ll hate them forever) has some unidentified brown glop on it. And I sat in it. IN MY WHITE JEANS.
Cheeks ablaze with embarrassment (if I were a romance novel character, I would be described as having a strawberries and cream complexion and I would have swooned) I ran for the nearest bathroom. I had to ask directions. Stupid new school! Anyway, as I sat in a bathroom stall sobbing because I now looked like I had shit myself and was wearing a shirt that would never, ever cover my ass, I decided that white jeans were a definite fashion mistake. In fact, I was thinking that even getting my period in the white jeans (which had always been my fear when I wore those jeans) could not be worse than having a brown smear of a stain right over my asshole. An upperclassman knocked on my stall to ask me if I was okay. In between hiccupping sobs, I told her what had happened. She told me to pass my jeans under the stall door and she’d try to wash them. As I’m huddling in the bathroom stall in my underwear (can life get worse than this for a teenager?), the bell rang. My pants were passed back, now wet and still with a brown smear.
Let me just say that as an adult, I would have simply put on my wet, faux shit-stained white jeans and walked home. Even though I didn’t know how to get home from the school because we had only moved there the week before. I still would have walked out of that school. But alas, I was a naïve goody two-shoes of a girl who had never even had the thought of skipping school enter her brain. And so I put on my faux shit-stained white jeans and proceeded to walk through the now empty halls of my new school while holding my pink spiral-bound notebook behind my back to cover my ass. (Yeah, like that was a casual pose. Ugh. The shame, the shame….)
I got to class only to find out, while standing in front of the classroom, that I was in the wrong class. The teacher told me how to get to my real classroom. And now I arrive even later to my real class where the teacher keeps making me get up from my desk so she can give me my textbook, and then so she can give me the syllabus, and then so she could sign my schedule for the office. (Really, lady? You haven’t learned how to have kids pass things back? You couldn’t have remembered to give me everything and sign my stupid schedule all at one time?) And as I was repeatedly getting up and walking to the front of the class, all I could think about was that freaking brown stain. And how everyone must be staring at it.
When the school day finally ended (and I don’t think there has ever been a 15 year-old more happy to hear that bell), I was walking around with a full 7 classes worth of textbooks and workbooks trying to find my locker. Locker found, but wrong locker combination. (Really? Really?!) As I trudged outside with all my books, I looked around for the buses and saw that they had all left. I turned to one of the students smoking outside and asked when the late bus was. “Late bus?,” asked the slacker. Oh, that’s right, because stupid Michigan doesn’t have stupid late buses and stupid me has to use a stupid pay phone (remember those?) to call her dad at work to come and get her because she doesn’t know how to get back to the new house.
As I sat outside on the curb (effectively hiding the brown smear), I thought, “This has to be the worst first day of school EVER.” And as my dad drove me home, angry that he had to leave work to pick me up, I thought, “white jeans suck.” And I was right. And I will always hate plastic bucket chairs, short t-shirts, the entire state of Michigan, and all pairs of white jeans.