Every five years or so, I trick myself into trying on pants at The Gap. (I am showing my age by insisting on calling it "The Gap" and not "GAP." And when I say "The Gap" the words that come out of my mouth are shaped like that old, all lower-case logo.) I'm not really sure why. I rarely walk into Gap stores and when I do, it's usually for totally utilitarian purposes. I'll need a new t-shirt because the shirt I'm wearing makes me feel weird, or is covered in blood. Or I'll need a pair of boxers because I'm anticipating a short-notice slumber party, or the ones I'm wearing are covered in blood.
But every once in a while I'll get lulled into The Gap out of some irrational belief that there's something cool and young and fun going on in there and I am somehow missing out on it. I guess it's the same kind of feeling a 45 year-old man gets when, out of the blue, he decides to thumb through an issue of SPIN. And, like that 45 year-old man, the episode ends in furious disgust and a snobbish affirmation that I am right and the youth of America is wrong-headed and has VD.
Last week, I had one of those episodes again. It's not hard to see a Gap store during your day. I happened to walk by the Gap that's in my kitchen, and saw all those lifeless jeans hanging in the window. The pants weren't on mannequins, so there was no way to determine their fit; instead, it was just a tempting buffet of denim rinses, all loosely hanging on hooks, clinging together. I wanted that. I thought what I always think whenever I'm about to make this particular mistake – Maybe The Gap has learned how to make pants for men with regular-sized thighs and a conservative distance between their navels and scrotum. MAYBE!
This time my curiosity was piqued by a pair of pants in The Gap's new "1969" style. This is supposedly a vintage style, named after the year The Gap first opened their doors. I figured they were trying to design clothing the way it looked and felt in 1969 – slimmer, boot-cuttier, softer. The pants felt really great, too. They were soft, thick, and just barely textured – like a hairless cat. I believed them. I trusted things would be different. I drank so much of that Gap Kool Aid that I grabbed two pairs and grooved into the fitting rooms, because The Gap requires that you groove through their store; walkers are shunned, ignored.
I slipped them on over my smooth, muscled legs and buttoned them around my waist, letting them hang right below my "Wolfin' It" tattoo. And guess what? They fit exactly like every other pair of pants designed by The Gap over the last 15 years. Which is to say, they looked like the only person they'd ever fit is The Iron Giant. These are chinos for robots. Boxy, thick-legged, long-crotched robots. I have never seen a human being shaped like this. Looking in the mirror, they were so perfectly formless that it was as if I wasn't even wearing the pants; more like they were just being held up on a hanger in front of me.
I skulked out of the fitting room because my groove had been grounded, and the fitting room employee – the person who collects all of the clothing that can't be worn by "normals" – handed me a card, as some kind of consolation. The card entitled me to one free song from iTunes, for enduring those few moments of humiliation. However, when I went home and tried to redeem the scratch-off card for a hot track by the delightful Young Jeezy, I discovered that the card had been rigged so, when the silver lotto box was scraped away with a nickel, the paper beneath was scraped off right along with it. Therefore, no coupon code at all. Hey, The Gap – more like THE GYP, right????!?