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'Dress jeans ' they apparently were not
Or So It Seems

You will quickly notice that this fish story appears shorter on the page than usual. That's because there is no happy ending, in fact no ending at all. And it's not so much a fish story as a fish-cleaning story. Or maybe a fish-cleaning fashion story. Heck, let's skip the previews and go straight to tonight's feature.

Would someone please tell me what people mean by the expression "dress jeans"? It was uttered by my best friend as she agreed to meet for dinner. And I thought I knew the meaning: the very best pair of jeans you own. But, no, there are age, crease and tint criteria concealed everywhere in that description.

How was I to know? In the fashion vocabulary of every guy I know, "jeans" means denim pants. A good pair of jeans will remind a guy of a baseball game. An excellent pair will remind a guy of a fishing story. But apparently a guy should never grow attached to jeans that remind him of a fish-cleaning story.

"What's that?" she asked, pointing to one bleached-out knee.

"Oh, just a little run-in with some catfish," I said. "You can barely see it anymore."

Now, any reasonable person would have been satisfied with that answer, but then again no reasonable person ever used the expression "dress jeans."

She needed more details. "Two of the biggest bullhead I've ever seen taken on rods," I bragged. "One almost took my Zebco 33 deep into Bearhead Lake."

A blank expression. Clearly she wanted to hear more.

"We were drifting the dropoff after we trolled for walleyes along the point," I explained.

"And it was like boom, boom, and then it was over."

That expression again. "Maybe you call them catfish," I said. "Some folks even call them horned pout."

By that time I was pondering the nuance of the term "dress jeans." I reflected on the clues that so far had been elusive. My friend and I were not going to supper, but instead were dining. It was not a restaurant, but in fact a café. Maybe the mention of a maitre d' should have been a tip.

That blank expression has a million meanings, but this time it meant, "Have you considered new jeans?"

Sometimes a guy will have a moment of clarity, a flash of genius.

"You know the French have a proud culinary heritage," I should have said. "And they speak some French in Ontario where we caught these bullheads, and there they call them burbot. So these jeans really are very sophisticated."

That's what I should have said, but wisdom like that is never at your fingertips when you need it.

Still, I learned from the experience. If there's ever a next time, I will visit TSC before we go dining.

I will leave the price tag on the dress jeans, and I will not wear them while cleaning fish or even to a ball game, and I will never bleach or wash the dress jeans.

Do me a favor, please. If you see us at Angie's or Habanero's or Ivery's or Little G's, please casually say, "What neatly pressed, immaculate, bright blue denim jeans."

Be clever, and don't let on that we have talked.

I will owe you a burbot.

Web posted on Thursday, January 13, 2011

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