There should have been a 3 day wake. There should have been a New Orleans jazz band joyfully trumpeting my friend from home to the burial spot.
There should have been a procession, led by police cars, and complete with numerous limousines for those who were close to the deceased.
There should have been a majestic funeral pyre, with the flames licking at the feet of angels, who were ecstatic, yet a little jealous, to finally have worthy company.
There should have been a memorial. A 8 foot high Celtic cross, inscribed with the personal history and telling the story of a life cut short.
Instead, I simply took my friend of 20 years from his place in my dresser drawer, walked him through the darkened house, said a few words (“I can’t believe you’re making me do this” said in a solemn tone to my wife), gently placed him in the kitchen garbage can, and said my goodbyes to my original Levi’s 501 jeans, the best pair of jeans in the world.
I can still remember how excited I was when I first met these jeans. Having a mother who had to feed and clothe 4 kids, and who valued longevity at the cost of constant playground mockery, severely limited my clothing options, as a kid. My entire childhood, I was forced to live with the horrible indignity of wearing Toughskins and, on really stylish days, my one pair of Wranglers. I would have settled for a pair of Lee’s, and hoping for a pair of Levi’s was to Dream the Impossible Dream.
Finally, one day my Great Stylistic Famine of the early 1980’s came to an end. As a result of nearly 6 months of constant whining, testimonials from friends and siblings as to my serious fashion deficiencies, and in the remnants of the Olympic spirit, I was able to finally purchase a pair of Levi’s jeans for Christmas.
It took me 45 minutes of searching to find my friend. Being tall and skinny (I prefer “waspish”), the first 30 minutes was spent finding a pair that would fit, and then trying on those that were close. However, the first time I put on my friend, I knew we’d be together for a good long while. Even though they were a size too large around the waist and legs, (my mother insisted that I buy a pair with “room to grow” to ensure longevity), they fit comfortably. They looked great. And, they had the red tab that meant so much to me. I had finally found my one true pants-mate.
I could spend pages talking about our life together. How every tear (I couldn’t even begin to think about taking a scissors to them in a fevered attempt at "being cool), every fray, every stain told a story. How they outperformed my mother’s demands and lasted over twenty years. How they were there for my first kiss, my first night at college, my first drunk grope, my first love, my final exams, my LSATs, the first time I met my wife, my honeymoon, the birth of my first child…
They were there for my entire adult life.
And now they are gone.
Goodbye Levi’s 501 jeans. Rest well, knowing that you’ll be the first thing I put on in heaven. Even before the wings.