Sunday, 7 December 2008

Jeans, Trees and The Simpsons

I wonder if anyone else remembers this very early episode of The Simpsons ? Lisa is trying to introduce Bart to the great philosophical questions of the universe, eternity and the big "how?"

As you can imagine, she's not getting very far. First she tries posing the ancient Chinese question: What is the sound of one hand clapping? "Piece of cake", says Bart, holding one yellow hand in the air and smacking his three fingers onto his palm (it works, have a go......).

Lisa tries again: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it - does it make a noise?"Bingo! Bart's eyes become wide, unfocused saucers of wonder as he attempts to figure it out and his brain starts to feel all psychedelic and bendy with the strain. Well, I have been remembering Bart in that moment because recently I had one similar.

I was out for my morning walk when I encountered a large party of teenage kids out on a school field trip. We were crossing the road from opposite sides and as they streamed past me, I noticed that every single one of them - male and female - was wearing a pair of jeans. There were about 40 of them.

"That's interesting." I mused casually. In high-fashion terms, jeans are supposed to be over, but they really have become the default with the young now, just as they did with my generation in the '70's.

Then I remembered I was also wearing jeans myself that day, and that really got me thinking, because if every Western teenager and even old birds like me have them, then how many pairs of jeans are there in the world?

And then my pesky brain pursued the idea, like a foolish dog following a ball onto the road and into the path of an oncoming car, pondering, "So how many pairs of all kinds of jeans are there? "And that's when the weirdness hit. Aaaaah! Stop the thoughts! My head feel funny! But still the thoughts continued.....

Every member of my immediate blood family, from my three-year-old great-niece up to my octogenarian mum, owns at least one pair of jeans, and most have several. I quite dread to think how many pairs my trendy older nieces own each.

So apart from the odd nun, at a very conservative estimate, just about every citizen in Australia, the UK and America must have one pair of jeans. Priests wear them. Doctors wear them, on duty. Add in Japan, Russia, Europe and China's burgeoning youth culture and the numbers start to spin out into the kind you need to be Stephen Hawking to understand.

As the concept of the world jeans reserve hit me that morning, it could send you mad, I realised, so I forced myself to stop.
I wondered instead, for the rest of my walk, about that falling tree and that empty forest......

Rwanda, Nov 2006 - Even in Africa the blue jean saga continues.

7 comments:

avtcoach said...

Jeans, yes almost everyone has them. I have a friend who talks about the "old days" when there were only a few kinds of jeans and most every male wore levis. Now there are designer jeans, boot cut, slim cut, cuts for every but, hip hugger, low rise, high rise, wide leg, ...yikes, even Oprah has articles about buying the perfect pair of jeans. With the economy the way it is and...knowing that everyone has jeans...you may be on to something...would the accountant in you recommend this as an investment? :):) Guess I'll quit and think about the forest/tree question as well!!

Have a great day!

avtcoach said...

Oh, I forgot, I love the Traveling Pants movies...so there you go, jeans have made it as the main character in a motion picture!!!

Fly Girl said...

Interesting journeys our minds wander through! How funny... I can imagine you looking at all those jeans walking by!

Sad to say, I outgrew my favorite pair after my running injury, and I have NONE that fit. Not one pair to wear on dress down days at school. Cargo pants and khakis are my staples. I'm probably the only person in the w.o.r.l.d. who owns a pair but doesn't actually wear them.

Maybe I should hunt down that Oprah article ....

Enjoy your day!
Roban

Sherer said...

Quite something to ponder - as I write this, I happen to be wearing jeans. It truely occurs to me at the amount of abundance we blessed with.

Jesse

Anonymous said...

What unusual topics you come up with! I can't say I've EVER pondered the question of jeans before (except when buying them or putting them away, of course!)
Now-where does 'recycling of jeans' come into the debate? I have a cupboard stacked with jeans but, now and again, I'll take some to the charity shop (if in REALLY good condition but out of favour or outgrown!!)or to a jumble sale, if tattier. On the other hand, I also might pick up a pair of someone elses cast-offs at a charity shop myself if in the mood to do so! So-the jeans you see before you MIGHT have belonged to someone else in another life!CJ

Poetikat said...

Great post, Peg! I myself, practically live in my jeans. I especially love the ones with a little spandex-give. Not that I'm heavy, I just like to be able to move, breathe and eat in them!

Now you've really got me thinking...doing the math...thinking there's maybe a poem in here somewhere (perhaps in the new year).

Luv,

Kat

McMGrad89 said...

Don't know how I missed this post, but even my 3 year old has three pair of jeans. And if I could, I would buy him more as I can never keep them clean.

We, as teachers, look forward to Fridays so we can wear jeans. We even buy school t-shirts just for the right to wear them. Moreover, in previous years when it was allowed, we would pay money to charity fund drives just for the right to wear jeans on "Non-Fridays." We could buy a whole month of jeans for donating to the United Way. (Our grouchy, stuck in the mud Superintendent who doesn't even work here anymore, did away with that.)

We LOVE jeans.