During the financial crisis of late 2011, when my former tenant stopped paying rent –forcing me to evict her– and it took me six weeks to secure a new renter for my basement suite, I bought nothing unnecessary. I prettied myself up in the morning with a gunky partially-dry mascara. I ate the half frost-burned stuff out of the bowels of my deepfreeze on tops of heaps and heaps of no name rice. I polished my chompers with a frayed toothbrush. I even bought the cheap (ugh) cat litter, despite knowing it doesn’t clump or kill stinks nearly as well as the good stuff.
I realize I wasn’t quite impoverished, since I still had a snug house, a safe car, and something to eat, but it sucked to pinch my pennies hard enough to break my thumbnails for two months. I appreciate how stressful it must be for families who are right on the verge of missing a mortgage payment or choosing between buying winter boots for their kids or paying the power bill. I’m lucky my “financial crisis” wasn’t that critical.
In the middle the peanut-brittle crunchiness that was my budget, I was unable to buy anything new to wear. I’m no clotheshorse, but there is something about a new cardigan off the clearance rack to make a girl feel perky. To make matters worse, at the time I could suddenly just barely balance my budget, I owned only two pairs of winter-appropriate pants suitable for work, plus one pair of nice jeans for Fridays. The reasons were varied, from the little bit of extra junk in my trunk that currently rules out some of the wardrobe, to the terrible losses of two decent pairs of pants, one to a bleach incident and one to a simple wearing out at (ahem) critical seams. Either way, I had two pairs of pants to choose from each school day.
Things for my legs were pretty boring in November and December.
brown pants – pinstriped pants – brown pants – pinstriped pants – jeans
Some weeks I started with the pinstriped pants. Other times, I got really creative and worse the brown pants two days in a row. Those were dark, dull times, friends.
Now that I have a paying basement renter again (thank you, patron saint of tenancy) I actually have enough wiggle room in my bank account that I could afford to buy a few articles of clearance clothing at the Boxing Day sales. Imagine my glee last week when I bought two new pairs of pants. I had visions of a week at school that looked something like this:
pinstriped pants – grey pants – brown pants – black pants – jeans
The seemingly endless arrangements of my new duds were almost overwhelming. Both the grey pair and the black pair are my favourite style from my favourite place: I just grabbed them off the rack and paid. I knew I couldn’t wear the grey pants until I have them hemmed because the only pair in my size were the “long” inseam.” I bought them because they were 60% off and the last grey pair in my size. Yesterday morning, I was so excited to wear my new black pants. I pulled them out of the bag, then went to unfold them so I could hop in.
There was just one problem: the pants were already unfolded. I checked the tags again. Apparently, my fabulous new black pants were hanging on a hanger that lied. I bought a pair of pants small enough for the cat by mistake. Seriously, if I took my proper pants size and divided it by two, I would arrive at the numeral printed on the tag for these stupid cat pants.
Leroy never leaves the house; he has no use for pants, even lovely new black ones.
I took the teeny weeny pants back to the store, hoping to exchange them for a pair that would simultaneously fit and break the monotony of my wardrobe. Fortunately, the store lady refunded my money. Sadly, there was not a single pair of those black pants left in my proper size. At one point, she disappeared in to the mythical “back room” to see if there was a pair that wasn’t on the racks yet. She emerged with exactly the right pants in exactly the right size and exactly the right inseam length: they were identical to the pinstriped pants I had to wear to work again yesterday. I left the store no richer in pants than I had arrived.
pinstriped pants – brown pants…
Guess what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I bet it’s going to be thrilling.
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