In my world, nail art has become just as much of a style essential as shoes or jewelry.
Some days, when I wake up, I just feel like playing it fast and loose with my self-esteem. On days like this, I pull out what I like to call my “Gamble Pants.”
Just to look at them, they don’t appear to be that different from normal pants. They’re skinny jeans made of stretchy black denim purchased on the flimsiest of whims during a trip London last year.
I bought them partly because vacationing in London always makes me think I can dress more urban and adventurous, and partly because the store where I found them is known for absurdly cheap prices (even with the exchange rate). We’re talking prices so cheap that I can afford to jump on every bandwagon of every trend I’ve been unwilling to pay normal prices to try (see also: cropped swing coats, over-the-knee socks, laceless oxfords, neon tights, and faux-Missoni prints).
The lines for the fitting room that day were horrendous, so I decided to take a risk. I didn’t try them on. I didn’t even double-check the European sizing. I just rolled the dice and plunked a few British pounds down on the counter.
Back at the hotel, I was eager to try them on. I had already spent the tube ride back thinking about how great they would look with my wooden wedge heels when I wore them to dinner that night.
I put one foot in, then the other, and then… nothing. Nada. No go. Nopers. Not a chance. Nothing doing. I maneuvered them up over my calf muscles and almost immediately felt my legs start to go numb from loss of circulation. I looped my fingers through the belt loops and yanked until I started to hear the unmistakable sound of threads popping. After wrestling for a few more interminable minutes, I collapsed on the bed from exhaustion and yelled for my husband to come pull them off of me -- which he did -- but not before climbing on his sartorial soap box to complain.
“Why do girls wear these stupid skinny jeans in the first place? They don’t look that good and everyone wearing them looks so uncomfortable.”
I ignored him and concentrated instead on the blessed feeling of oxygen and blood flowing back into legs, but deep down, I knew he was right. I shouldn’t keep them. Dejected, I shoved the pants back in the bag and resolved to return them the next day.
Back at the scene of my risky bet, I was ready to cash out and get my money back (though the pants would be keeping a bit of my dignity as a processing fee). But the line for returns was even longer than the line for the fitting room I’d been deterred by the day before. I decided to roll the dice again.
“I’ll keep them and hope I’ll be able to fit into them eventually,” I declared aloud to my husband who was waiting out on the sidewalk.
The look on his face was one of concern. It was also clear that he was judging me. Pretty harshly, in fact.
“It'll be fine. I've got this under control,” I assured him, echoing the words that every slots addict, lotto junkie, and racetrack regular has said to their spouse at one time or another when they discover that another $50 is missing from the joint bank account.
Ever since then, whenever I wake up feeling twitchy, I get out the pants. But, I actually don’t put them on. Instead I lay them on the bed and pick out an entire outfit that goes with them. A really fierce outfit. Then I proceed to get ready for the day. Wash my face, put on makeup, curl my hair – the whole nine – which leaves me just a few minutes to actually get dressed before I need to leave for work. The hand has been dealt. If my gamble pays off, and they zip up, I will have a hella chic outfit and I will basically feel like the skinniest most awesome woman to ever get dressed in the history of the world.
If I lose, my entire day will combust in a firestorm of self-loathing, closet ravaging, and rage sweat. I’ll arrive late to work with puffy eyes (rage sweat is almost always followed by tears of regret) and my co-workers will start wondering if I have “a problem.”
So far, I’ve bellied up to the card table seven times. The first three, I went bust (loathing, rage, tears, etc.). On the fourth, fifth and sixth tries, I would say I broke even. I could technically get them on, but to wear them outside my own home would be running the risk of becoming one of those women I always stare at in public and think, “Oh honey. No. Just… no.”
Then, right around mid December, I finally won a hand.
They went on with relative ease. I zipped them without lying down. I could breathe. I had fully functioning use of all my limbs. And, most importantly, my butt looked incredible. On that day, those £5 jeans made me feel like a million bucks.
But let’s be realistic. That was 30 days, 13 bottles of wine and 3 tins of holiday cookies ago and right before I wrote this, I hit the Trader Joe’s frozen food section so hard that you would have thought they’d been robbed. And as every gambler knows, the house always wins. Always.
Getting those Gamble Pants out anytime between now and March 1 would be like taking all of my winnings and blowing them playing the slot machine at the airport on the way home from Vegas You know you’re not going to win like that again and the whole exercise just feels a little sad and masochistic.
But I’ll play again soon enough. I’ll wake up feeling ready to live on the edge, fueled by heady thoughts about how frickin’ awesome those Gamble Pants are going to look with my new tobacco suede riding boots and long grey sweater (so, so good!). In the meantime, I’ve been working on a way to cheat the system.
Here’s my strategy: every three days, I put the Gamble Pants partially on (unbuttoned, no higher than my thighs) and waddle around like a duck in the privacy of my bedroom. It’s not enough to guarantee that I’ll come out on top a winner every time, and I absolutely look like a lunatic doing it, but it’s definitely tilting the odds in my favor. And that’s all a girl really needs, isn’t it? Some decent odds, a lotta guts, and a little luck. Though, a monster pair of Spanx never hurt, either.
Gamble Pants: 6 Jenn: 1