Buying My First Pair of Jeans

Shortly after Vatican Council II, when nuns were allowed to wear lay clothes, I was thinking of buying my first pair of jeans sometime. I was not in a hurry, but I did have my eyes open for a good deal.

One day as I am driving to the cities, there was a strip mall on my left. The four large windows all had large signs that said, “JEAN SALE…50% off.” Here is my chance, I thought.

My mother and older sister sewed most of our clothes at home, so I knew nothing about sizes. My mother would hold the homemade pattern against my body and she could go on from that. Besides that, most of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my three other sisters. In the convent, we had only three sizes: small, medium and large. At least that was better than ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Now suddenly, I am expected to know all about sizes. Different sizes for different parts of your body.

Now being in the store, I am looking at various racks, looking at the sizes and then moving on to a row way in the back. I couldn’t believe the many different sizes, not only in length, but also for the waist. How complicated things have become. Here it looks like I might find a pair. I see 28-30, 30-34, 35-37, 38-40, etc. I had to hold them to my waist to get some sense of whether it could fit…Right away, a clerk asked, “Can I help you?” Feeling so stupid and uncomfortable because I had no idea which number I was, I said, “No, I am just looking.”

I grabbed the three that I thought might fit and went into the fitting room. None of them fit. So I came out to the rack and grabbed two more pairs; neither fit. The male clerk comes and asks if I needed any help. No thanks. In desperation, I tried one more time. I went to the rack and found one more pair to try on. The crouch was still too short and it was too long, but maybe a seamstress could shorten the length and take in the sides of the waistline.

So I went to the counter and bought it. The guy thanked me graciously and I left. When I got home and looked at the sale slip more closely, I learned that I was in a men’s store.

Margaret Mandernach, OSB

This story was written for Stories Like You’ve Never Heard Before…, a compilation of stories written by Sister Margaret Mandernach.