playing in the (d)ark: the myth of whiteness and the (de)construction of the texual self. AKA: White noise written on the body: I now own a pair of white jeans

Or: Out of the closet: posttextual feminism(s) in the subtexual undercurrents of my tight white jeans

Or: Nihilism on the street: discursive play and the laundry

Or: The dialectics of dirt in the collected works of my white jeans

Or: Enwhitening the self: post-Lacanian pre-Sontagian constructions of cleanliness in the public theater of white jeans in the public sphere, 1899-2008

Or: postmodern objectivism in a modernist font: white jeans in the real world

Or: Disappropriation and disambigulation in a pre-postcapitalist era: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Clorox

Or: Transforming whiteness in the wash: anarchist perspectives on the wardrobe

OK, OK, time to stop. I’m not making fun of pomo whiteness studies, I loved Playing the Dark! And I truly believe that whiteness is a construction. But I would like to posit that wearing white jeans is very much an existentialist exercise in the realpolitik of the day: what, exactly, are people who wear white jeans all about?

As you might have guessed, through no fault of my own, I recently came into possession of a pair of dazzlingly white, pleasingly tight white jeans. I think about these white jeans a lot.

Here’s what I’ve figured out:

Owning and wearing white jeans frequently is a bit like having a baby.

When you wear white jeans, you can’t always do the things you used to do, before you had the white jeans. You don’t really mind, though, because the benefits and happinesses associated with the white jeans vastly outweigh the challenges they present. Sometimes you struggle to remember a time before you had the white jeans.

Getting into the car with white jeans requires a little forethought, and preparation of the car seat. It becomes necessary to keep extra paper towels in the car.

When you go out into the world for social events, you almost always wear the white jeans, and are beginning to suspect that your friends might have liked you better before you had the white jeans, and might be a little tired of you bringing them with you all the time. Couldn’t you leave them at home one night? You hear them thinking. You just look at them and think: I can’t leave them home alone! What if something spilled on them?

Once you cross over to the dark side of the white jean, you will find yourself doing things you’ve never done before and making compromises you never thought you would make. Once a staunch proponent of washing all clothes together no matter what color and forcing them to fight each other for color retention, these days you find you’re up in the middle of the night caring for the white jeans – carefully washing them all by themselves with special soft detergent and even a little bleach, just to keep them sparkling.

It’s nice out and you’ve been drying all your other clothes on the line outside, but you guiltily toss the white jeans in the dryer, mumbling to yourself about how clothes hung on the line are always so stiff. A dryer load just for one item! The pre-white jeans you never would have done things like this. What’s happening to you? Are you losing your youthful ideals? Is it really true that white jeans change people?

One day you notice they are a little wrinkly and the thought crosses your mind that you could iron them. The iron is buried away in the far reaches of the linen closet. As you gaze at it, you remember that the last time you used the iron it was to purposely create a cool print of iron marks on a t-shirt because it looked so punk rock. You decide that you haven’t fallen so low as to iron jeans, and you shove it back into the closet.

When you’re out with friends, you wish they had their own pair of white jeans so they could understand what it is like. You can’t do all the things you used to do, and you can see that they can’t accept that. You don’t want a sip of their red wine – don’t hold it out like that, put it back on your side of the table! I’m fine with my pinot gris, thank you! God. Someday they’ll understand.

When you come home from a night out, you can’t just flop into bed like you used to as a carefree youth. You immediately peel off the jeans and begin inspecting them. Yes, that puddle on West 4th Street really did a number, as you thought it might have.

Hmm. You stare at the stain.

You think back to a time when what you are about to do was unnecessary, when you laughed at people who did what you are about to do, and judged them harshly. Then you remember that this is what you wanted, you brought it on yourself, and you have to take consequences for your actions.

You pretreat your stains.

A little part of your youth dies.

3 Responses to “playing in the (d)ark: the myth of whiteness and the (de)construction of the texual self. AKA: White noise written on the body: I now own a pair of white jeans”

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