From Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause

Granny Pants

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.

Katharine Hepburn

I swore that it would never happen to me, but it has. I have become the nightmare of my teenage years. I have grayed, and bits of me that were once taut are now wiggly and jiggly, and bits of me that used to be loose have frozen up. This I have borne with relative good grace. But today I became my own bête noire.

I have worn all kinds of jeans in my life. In the seventh grade I had elephant bell hip-huggers that were more patch than pant and were they ever cool! I cut the seams out of the jeans and put in a big triangle of brightly colored material. I wanted to do this myself and wear them to the Sadie Hawkins dance. I couldn’t sew, and my mom wasn’t going to be home in time, so I tried some good old Elmer’s glue. That didn’t work so well, so I stapled them and called it good. I went over to my friend’s house. “Wow, Liz! Look at your jeans!” What I heard was, “Your jeans are so cool.”

“Mom,” my friend said, “look at Liz’s jeans.”

“I bet you did those all by yourself, didn’t you?” her mom asked me.

“Yes ma’am, I did,” I said not too modestly.

“Would you like me to just give them a quick going-over so your staples don’t show so much?” Since one of the staples was, at that very moment, jabbing itself painfully into my calf, I agreed. Her mother fixed my pants with a needle and thread.

In high school I wore my jeans way, way, way too long so that the cuff would get appropriately frayed and dirty. In the ’80s I wore super-tight jeans in every color of the rainbow—the tighter and brighter the better, to go with my enormous shoulder pads and gigantic hair.

Then I had a decade or so when I just could not find any jeans that both fit and looked right. Until yesterday. I tried on a pair of jeans and asked my daughter if she thought they were too short. “Don’t worry, Mom. Nobody will notice,” she replied. Uh-oh. I started to fret and tried to see my reflection in a glass door. And then her words, “Nobody will notice,” sank in, and I had an epiphany: Nobody will notice me!

I was determined to find a pair of jeans that someone would notice. But after a long day of trying on pair after pair of jeans at store after store, I was ready to give up. I had tried on jeans that snapped just below where my bosom currently resides. I tried on jeans that snapped way, way, way lower than that. I tried on jeans that were belled and boot cut, and tapered. I tried on jeans that were “relaxed” and jeans I suspected of being on the verge of a breakdown. I tried on jeans that were the deep, new indigo and rejected them as dorky, and I tried on jeans that looked like they had been worn by an auto mechanic for a few weeks. I think I tried on every pair of jeans in the greater metropolitan area.

And then I found them—the perfect pair. I might have bought myself one of those “Queen of Denial” T-shirts too, because I was definitely doing some fast self-talk. The only reason I even tried them on was because they were on sale. I’m a sucker for something on sale. But I loved them! They were almost as comfortable as scrub pants. I preened in front of the mirror. These look like something Katharine Hepburn would wear, I thought. So neat looking, so flattering, and so comfortable. Are they a little short though? Nah! I see people wearing their britches all different lengths. They’re fine. And sooooo comfortable!

Why were they so comfortable? I am going to tell you something now that I never, ever thought I would say in a million, billion years. They had a half-elastic waist. And long, loose legs. And square, sailor-style pockets. And I loved them. And they were not Katharine Hepburn pants. They were not sailor pants. They were Granny Pants, pure and simple.

Today, I am free! Liberated! Released through the sheer perseverance in surviving this long from the dictates of fashion! I can wear any darned thing I want to wear and nobody notices! Goodbye, panty hose; hello, knee socks! Fair-thee-well, heels, and howdy-doo, driving moccasins! Hasta la vista, cuffs and collars and waistbands, and hello to the wonderful world of jersey knits! Katharine Hepburn, my hind leg! Hello, Granny Pants!

Elizabeth Sowdal

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