Opinion: Chip on my shoulder
Maybe you saw the story about how we’re not supposed to wash our jeans. Really. The CEO of Levi’s, Chip Bergh, said so. Instead, he recommends you put them in the freezer once a month to keep them from smelling bad.
I think I speak for many of us when I say, “Ew.”
I think I speak for many of us also when I say “Since when do CEOs have names like Chip?” Chip is the name of that guy in your Cub Scout troop who pretended to be all goody-goody until the den mother wasn’t looking and then started giving you Indian burns and Hertz Donuts. You know, when he punches you in the arm with a knuckle sticking out and says “Hertz, donut?”
Well, anyway, that’s a Chip. Not a CEO. CEOs have names like Ed and Charles and Elizabeth. Which could be Chip’s real name but that’s for another discussion. Back to jeans.
This whole business of not washing your jeans is just nasty. And then putting your dirty jeans in the freezer where you keep your food … well, that’s even nastier.
This is really simple. God gave us washing machines so we could have clean jeans. And if washing them wears them out, as Chip asserts, God also gave us stores where they sell jeans so we could get a new pair.
(Note to Chip: Your job is to sell jeans. Telling people how to make their jeans last forever is not going to sell more jeans. Are you sure you’re in the right business?)
As a Baby Boomer in good standing, jeans are a mainstay of my wardrobe. In fact, jeans figured very prominently in the first episode of student activism I ever saw at Lakeland High School, my semi-beloved alma mater.
During my sophomore year, we students whined and complained so much that the administration finally rewrote the dress code to allow us to wear jeans to school. Just as the administration warned, it led to all sorts of changes. Boys’ hair began creeping over shirt collars. Girls no longer had to kneel on the floor while Mrs. Booth measured their skirts to make sure they didn’t show too much leg.
It wasn’t exactly the chaos in the streets that the grownups predicted, but it was a pretty significant step into the 1960s. Which, this being Lakeland, happened in 1970.
Unfortunately, it set a very low standard for student protests. They were always about us. There was a war on but we never said a word about it. People treated each other miserably but we stayed silent. We marched out when we didn’t get a day off from school for winning the Sectional.
But at least we were able to do it in jeans. Straight legs, bell-bottoms, button-fly, you name it. And those jeans were clean. Not frozen. Washed, rinsed, spun and dried. Patched if necessary.
Nobody got too worked up over keeping them perfect because they were jeans and that was the whole point. They weren’t supposed to be perfect. Perfect you saved for your “good” clothes, the ones you had to wear to your grandparents’ wedding anniversary. Jeans you wore, in every sense of the word.
Not that I’d expect Chip to understand. Or, as I’ve come to call him, Mr. Freeze. Ew.
Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.