Mom Jeans, Black Socks, and Other Things You Don’t Want in Your Closet

“It’s happened,” my husband Chris tells me solemnly one afternoon as we’re standing in the kitchen packing for a picnic.


“What’s happened?”


He glances at me sheepishly. Pushes the picnic basket aside and hoists his tennis shoe up onto the countertop, slowly pulling up his pant leg to reveal his ankle like some sort of Victorian bride.


My eyes widen. “Black socks?”


He nods. “The only thing left would be the sandals,” he says sadly, putting his leg back down.


“But why?” is all I can think to ask.


He shrugs, putting a few napkins into the picnic basket. “They’re actually quite comfortable.”


My husband and I had been worrying about this day. We made a pact, when we were about 25, that we were not going to do “old people” things. We were always going to dress cool, talk cool, be cool. We were not going to wear elastic-waist jeans or colored socks. We were going to be hip. Forever.


Our plan began slipping, of course, only a few years later, when we began approaching our 30s. Our oldest child was still young, but he was already entering that world unknown to many parents: The Kid Zone. That place where pop culture exists behind a 3-foot-high turnstile.


The first occurrence I remember is when the band 98 Degrees was coming into prominence, and my son was talking about seeing them on television.


“What?” my husband said from his coma on the couch.


“98 Degrees,” repeated my son.


“Oh, yeah,” said Dad. “It’s getting pretty hot in here…”


My eyes widened. My son and I looked at each other, and then we collapsed into a fit of hilarity.


“What?” said my husband.


“Daaaaaad!” said our 6-year-old. He said it in that gosh-don’t-you-know-anything voice. The wow-you’re-out-of-it voice. (It’s the same voice, I’m pretty sure, that we used on our parents when they asked us what Styx was.)


“They’re a band, Dad.” My son got up, touched his dad on the shoulder and then left the room, leaving behind him a wake of horrified silence.


“Oh man,” said Chris.


“Even I knew who 98 Degrees is,” I said, rolling my eyes.


Shortly after that came a rapid succession of foreign concepts: Emo, Izzys, MySpace, Plugs, Uggs, PIR, and then – when we had a teen daughter, too – Team Jacob and Robert Pattinson.


We accepted each of these things with aplomb. They each became sort of like that high-frequency note that only young ears can hear (which our teens played for us, on the computer. Sure enough, we couldn’t hear a thing). We met each fact, at first, with a bit of alarm. But then, like the high-pitched note, we sort of shrugged and looked at each other and went back to watching The Biography Channel.


If the first stage is denial, and the second is acceptance, the third must be nonchalance. Because we found that, eventually, we didn’t care. We didn’t care that we weren’t hip. We didn’t care that we didn’t know half the artists at the Grammys. We didn’t care that we couldn’t recognize any of the faces on the tabloids when we stood in line to buy “20 Recipes for Your Slow Cooker.” We wanted to know what our teens were into because we wanted to know what they were up to, but being part of their culture – or immersing ourselves into it – became number 1,314 on our list of things to do. “Hip,” over time, took on a new dimension. It started to feel like being smart. It started to feel like having experience. It started to feel, most of all, like freedom. We didn’t know that the older generations – throughout time, I imagine – were experiencing a delicious reality that we weren’t aware of: They didn’t care what people thought. “Hip” was not fitting in. Hip was liking what you wanted to like: The Biography Channel. Practical cars. Frank Sinatra.


And yes, black socks.


“I bought a pack of them,” my husband says, hauling the picnic basket off the breakfast bar. He treads softly across the kitchen in his cushy 100-percent cotton and then looks at me over his shoulder. “They’re the softest socks I’ve ever worn in my life.”


He smiles.


And I smile back.


How very hip. …



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0 thoughts on “Mom Jeans, Black Socks, and Other Things You Don’t Want in Your Closet

  1. As I write this I am wearing my black socks…I really don’t care what the younger set thinks is cool/hip/hot or whatever. I have really come to realize that “cool” is being oneself. My son tells me that there is a kid in his high school who wears a suit every day and that all the kids think this guy is super cool because he is going his own way. I’ve felt this for years, and my son is still resisiting.
    Just be ourselves. Go our own way; don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
    My black are socks are the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn and I love it. I think loving how I live my life makes me the coolest guy on the face of the earth.
    I just hope my kids will see that some day…

  2. The worst is when an “old” person is trying too hard to be hip. Recently a 60-plus-year-old at a USC tailgate starting yelling out for us to play “Kings of Leon” because that was his favorite band, and all we could do was roll our eyes. Total dork.

    I felt my age this past New Year’s, when our neighbors (who are about 8 years younger than us) had a party, and the music playing for everyone to dance to was horrible. So I went up to the iPod and changed it to something like ABBA, and then my friends and I would all start dancing, and then one of their friends — in the middle of the song — changed it to some terrible hip hop garbage. Then I would slowly move over and change it to some ’80s dance song, (with their crowd audibly yelling out ‘Awww’ in disappointment when I did this) and then he would slowly go back and change it to some godforsaken gangsta rap.

    It was a battle of the generations!

    I ended up yelling at him, “You’re too young to know what good music is!” Seriously.

    I realized how old I was when I looked at the car next to me to see a sweet-looking blonde teenager blaring hard core rap out of her car like I would blare Billy Joel. Just sittin’ there at the traffic light, cuss words flying out of her speakers, and she’s just looking at her nails.

    That rap music is just not real music! 😉

    Yes, be who you are and be happy about it! The best thing about getting older is not caring.

  3. Hey, only a dork would wear WHITE socks in Europe. Or god forbid, an American tourist. It’s all about persepctive. And one’s OWN perspective on one’s socks MUST be the one that matters most.
    Rock on, Mom jeans and black socks! (And gangsta rap, I must add). To each his own.

  4. Grace, I cracked up at your story! I could just imagine that exchange! I’ll bet you were the last person you could ever imagine would be throwing around phrases like “you’re too young to …” So funny. It’s stunning when we finally realize we sound like our parents! But yes, absolutely — the best thing about getting older is not caring!

    Chris — I love your black socks.

    And Mizamiga — Interesting that black socks are the choice of Europe. I imagine that’s because people are wearing dark shoes. (I think it’s the contrast with the tennis shoes that’s shocking. And, thus, something we always associate with the world of the young. …) Yes, to each his (or her) own!

  5. Well, I just gotta say that I bought my son (20 year old son) black socks for Christmas! They are Nike and only ankle high, but black nontheless…and he liked them! Of course even though his reason for liking them (don’t show dirt when you wear them a couple days in a row cause you need to do laundry…)is different than your Chris, it shows that you’re not that far off from hip 🙂 My kids, mostly my girls, have tried to teach me through the years about fashion. Of course they informed me years ago about the “mom jeans” and thus I replaced my favorite high waisted, tapered legged jeans with the wider legged, low-mid waisted jeans. I gotta say, the low waisted jeans are not always the best choice…even for the young “hip” people. I don’t find “muffin tops” attractive on any age! I wish they could just find a happy medium! As far as being comfortable with ourselves, it is freeing to realize we don’t care what people think. It’s even nicer when you can instill in your kids that it’s okay and best just to be who you are. Nothing is more “hip” than a secure and confident person…young or old!

  6. Excellent comment, Debi! First, I had to laugh at your son’s reasoning (I never thought about the dirt showing … hmmm … Chris may have actually factored in that aspect!), and then I love your last line — security and confidence. Yes, that’s the key.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever been hip or cool in my life. When I was a teenager in the ’70s, I was listening to Beethoven, reading Shakespeare and totally not wearing the “in” fashions.

    Unfortunately, even though I had the courage to like what I liked, I felt like a freak. There’s a LOT to be said for getting older and realizing that “cool” isn’t really real.

  8. I once heard the phrase, ‘Being comfortable in your own skin’ and I think this is what that is all about. As others have said, its very liberating to just be yourself, wear what you like, listen to whatever you want to listen to and watch whatever TV programs you prefer. No apologies, no reason to justify yourself to anyone — ok, except maybe your spouse, who has to share your close-in space. This is the up-side of getting older!

  9. Hi, TexanPenny and Helene! Yes, the fam and I were talking about this at the dinner table the other night also, and we were noting that when you’re kids, you’re sort of looking for someone to love you (boyfriend/girlfriend) and that might be a lot of the need to impress (or the fear of judgment). But getting older also comes with a lot of experienced love, too, and that makes life a lot more liberating — you no longer feel you have to be a certain way to get someone to love you. You know you can just be you.

  10. True story…two years ago I was having lunch at Olive Garden with my sis and sis-in-law, and the waiter asked us if we liked Eminim (I don’t even know how to spell it) and I thought he was talking about the candy and so of course I said yes, wondering what that had to do with anything! Great post, Laurie, and so well-written! LOVED IT!

  11. Oh my gosh, Miss Sniz — I laughed out loud at that! (And then I had to read it to my hubby. His response? “Wow … that’s as bad as 98 Degrees!”) I think you just rescued him! So funny. But you are in GOOD company — We can relate!

  12. Pingback: MY LAUNCH BACK INTO EXERCISING « Mizwrite’s Blog

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