Paul Newman Jeans


Jeans Day is my office’s way of getting around Casual Friday.*  We do not have Casual Friday.  We live in DC.  We have the President to impress.

But on the occasional week, we’ll get a memo: “This Friday is Jeans Day…if you donate $5 to Bing Bong Bing Charity.”  Come Friday, you can bet I show up with five shiny dollars in the back pocket of my favorite pair.  Bing bong bing, you bet.  Charity runs in my family.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I started working, it’s this: I’d pay $5 every week to wear jeans to work.  That would be $250 darn well spent.  When I wear jeans to work, I feel cool.  I feel comfortable.  I feel hard-working.  On Jeans Day, time and I both get our hands dirty, but we do it with style and ease.  Like we’re Paul Newman.  In every movie he’s made in which he gets to look hot wearing blue jeans.  Which is to say, in every Paul Newman movie.

I don’t know when jeans became default wear (replacing gingham? wool? goat skin?), freeing us from making decisions on—of all days—Saturdays, but I am glad I was not born before then.  It would be like being born before the piano.  Or the pencil.  Or tap water.

This last Thursday, Kim, a paralegal from across the hall, came over with a smile on her face.  “Tomorrow is Jeans Day,” she said.  She said it with oomph.  “And I am going to wear my favorite pair of jeans and I am going to look hot!”  That’s what she said.  “What’s the charity?” I asked, standing up to untwist my dress.  Diabetes, breast cancer, domestic violence—these are all things I’m happy to fight with my jeans on.

“No charity,” she said.  “It’s free.”  She high-fived the door when she said it and then laughed with her mouth open.  I clapped involuntarily.  That’s right—a freebie.  A Jeans Day with no price tag attached.  Heaven must love us in DC.  To send us such manna from heaven.

I wrote a note and stuck it in my wallet right then.  I did not want to show up in skirts and whatnot unwittingly.  I wasted a Jeans Day once accidentally.  I died a little that day.

Friday morning I woke up and thought, “I don’t want to get up,” and then I thought, “but today is Jeans Day!” and then I thought, “but what if Kim was telling a falsehood, like a practical joke, like Sarah’s the new girl on our end of the floor and wouldn’t that be funny if she showed up in jeans—and no one else did?” and then I decided to show Kim some love and show the world some love and show my jeans some love and wear the suckers anyway.  Which I did.

Friday rocked.  Orange sparkly earrings, white ruffly shirt, metallic blue faux-snakeskin flats, and my favorite baby blues ($59 Gap stretch flares), and I was feeling good.  Even time went faster—I swear each billable hour was clocking in at fifty mins—until I noticed that no other attorneys were wearing jeans.  And a third-year associate—emerald green dress, tan heels, tan blazer—walked past me and said, “Yeah, I wanted to wear jeans too, until I read the memo.  It said, ONLY FOR STAFF.”

Oh heavens.  Oh Kim.  Oh Bing Bong Bing.

I hope I make the same mistake again.

* And the problems it can create.  For a detailed (and graphic) account, watch this episode of The Office.