Thursday, November 12, 2015

Black Jeans in Baltimore

By: Ben Johnson

photo by Mia Moreno-Hines

I bought a pair of black jeans last week. This is a boring non-event to you and to every human in the world who is not me. I’d never owned a pair of black jeans before, so it felt like a big step, like a minor identity shift. I’m a black jeans version of myself now. I realize this sounds stupid.

Black jeans just always seemed like they’d be a whole big thing. Like if I bought a pair of black jeans I’d have to get really into Nick Cave, and masculine jewelry, and get tattoos of spider webs on my elbows, and then go stand around in a garage and look menacing. I’d have to buy a bunch of heavy metal band shirts, and get a job training pit bulls in a scrap yard, and cook extreme smoked meats that would serve as my only source of nutrition. And I’d probably also want to wear my hair in a pompadour and get a pet wolf and refer to myself as “The Messenger” in some kind of hypersexualized creative setting. And get contacts.

But it turns out they’re just pants. You can just wear them. You can wear black jeans with anything. You don’t even really have to care about what color your shoes are. You don't have to adjust your wardrobe in any way to accommodate black jeans. Nobody will arrest you for any kind of crime if you wear something brown or blue with your black jeans. Nobody cares.

In the week I’ve had these black jeans, they’ve become my jeans. These jeans are my jeans now. I also have blue jeans, because there was a buy two get the second pair half off sale. I can wear those too if I want. I’m okay. I can do anything. Nobody will notice or care. The depth of this basic fact is never not surprising. It goes down to the marrow of the universe itself. But I am still me, and me is my own job.

Part of the reluctance was this idea that I just moved to Baltimore and now I’m buying black jeans and doing god knows what. Like maybe I’ve “gone Baltimore.” Which if true would actually be fine. Baltimore is a weird, dangerous, and interesting place to be alive, and I moved here on purpose, so I might as well “go” it. But I don’t want to be having one of those late-30’s identity crises. I don’t want to own a motorcycle. It seems like motorcycles are a huge pain in the ass, like an actual pain happening in the ass area.

Also I don’t want my personality, outwardly or inwardly, to be a reflection of panic in the face of advancing time, a desperate heave against mortality taking the shape of “I figure it’s my last chance to pull off Ray Bans.” I’d rather just sneeze feebly into the sun like the weak old man I am slowly becoming. That feels more honest.

But maybe you can also put up too much of a fight in the other direction. They’re pants. They’re not a big deal. Might as well wear ‘em.

I don’t need to put up that strong of a fight. I’ll be the guy in the zombie apocalypse that’s like “well, at least these guys don’t seem anxious about health insurance” and taps a zombie on the shoulder and says “I’m in.” And then there will be one more zombie in black jeans that might or might not look slightly more badass than the same zombie in blue jeans, but it really doesn’t matter because Oh God They’re Here.

Anyhow, I have these pants now. Check out my pants.