Hey Pearl, Niiiiiiice pants!


My daughter is 10-going-on-11, which means cool plays an increasingly big part in her life.

Luckily for her, I get it. I really do. I try not to embarrass her; I hang back; I do my best to be up on trends and fads and such. Probably because, once upon a time, I was deeply scarred.

The year was probably 1985. I was 13. Everyone was wearing parachute pants. They were hideously ugly but ridiculously popular. One kid, Frank Engelson, seemed to have 12 different pair—red, white, black, orange. Man, I wanted to be Frank. Or even half of Frank. Alas, my mother wouldn’t buy me parachute pants. Not sure why. So I begged and begged and begged. Probably for six months. Finally, at long last, she came home from the store with a plastic bag and a surprise. “I bought you two pair of parachute pants,” she said. “Try them on.”

I remember this vividly.

One pair was black, and they fit perfectly—tight, snug, zippers everywhere.

The other pair was gray—same zippers, but baggy, like saggy jeans from the late 1990s.

Mom looked them over, and decided we’d keep the gray parachute pants, because I’d grow into them. I was pretty horrified, but arguing was futile. Gray it would be.

A few nights later, we went to the nearby roller rink. I broke out the new parachute pants, and nervously entered the Baldwin Place Mall, where the facility was located. I still remember Louie Hanner looking at me and cackling. “Hey Pearl, niiiiiiiiiice paaaaaaants …”

I didn’t wear the parachutes for another five years.

Ultimately, however, they proved useful. They became my adult snow pants.

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