A Personal History And Mythology Of Blue Jeans

In the old movies,
The women wore
Skirts and dresses.

Marilyn Monroe,
In “River of No Return”,
Had on tight blue jeans.

Mom wore dresses.
(Did women have legs,
Or were they
Like mermaids under there?
And why did they leave
a toilet full of blood, sometimes?)
In the mid ‘50s
She got some tight pants,
With green, vertical lines
And some kind of flower pattern.

She had legs, and an ass.
(toosie, she'd taught us to call it,
A word that sounds like a cushion.)
I felt embarrassed when she wore them.

Then she got a denim skirt.
“It looks like blue jeans! ”
Said my brother Fred.
It did, with stitched, white
Pockets on the rear.

I felt I’d die, that eyes,
My own included,
Would rivet on Mother’s ass.

Blue jeans were for boys.
(Our mythologies, they say,
Determine how we dress—
In this case, how our parents
Dressed us, after the War,
In cities and in suburbs,
Little cowboys everywhere,
Kicking soccer balls
And sliding slides,
Who’d never plowed a field
Or herded cows.
I fantasized of boys, back then,
For blue jeans x-rayed bodies
With their pockets
And their rivets
And their stitches.
“This is beyond
Naked, ” I’d say to myself,
Wondering “Why isn’t it
Against the law? ”
Of course, I never asked aloud.)

And then, in junior high,
One shapely girl
started wearing
Tight blue jeans.
She found the secret first.
(Maybe she’d seen
“River of No Return”.)

Today, half the women
Who walk into the coffee shop
Are clad in that blue intrigue.

After 40 years of contemplation,
My mind still cannot penetrate
The intrigue and the mystery

Or dethrone the mythology
Of those streamlined bodies

That help to bring my world alive,
though clothed
In its illusions.

by Max Reif

Comments (3)

Thanks for the 'blue jeans' nostalgia. It was worth it for the 'lines bring my world alive, /though clothed/In its illusions' Your sentiment is not illusory! IDC
THis is brilliant Max. A snapshot of images that are so recognizable (particularly for those of us of a certain age) and at the same time tell the reader so much about you. Your last stanza sums it up with delicious irony. love, Allie xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Max, I'll wear blue jeans tomorrow, the first day of the New Year, in honor of you. Thanks for the read.