Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

Get Rid of the Blues With Jeans

Jackie K. Cooper

For me consistency is a reassuring way to be. In other words I am a creature of habit. I love routine, and hate change. In this mood and mode I have lived my life. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the way I selected my clothes. I dressed nicely but samely, if samely can be a word.

I think it was in college that I discovered khaki pants. There was a guy who lived down the hall from me and he wore khaki pants all the time. His name was Murk Bannister, full name John Murchison Bannister. He was distinct, and he was tweedy. He wore blazers with patches on the elbows, and he wore oxford cloth shirts. I had never seen anyone dress like this, and so I emulated him to some degree. In short I started wearing khaki pants.

Even after I was out of college I continued to wear khaki pants. I became fixated on them. When I entered the workforce I formulated a uniform of sorts. I wore a blue or white oxford cloth shirt, a striped tie, a blue blazer, brown loafers, and khaki pants. I wore that just about every day for thirty years. To say I was in a rut is like saying ice is cold.

My wife used to look in my side of the closet and just shake her head. There were pair after pair of khaki pants hanging side by side on the bottom level, and at the top was a collection of blue and white shirts. I always had at least two blue blazers to wear and two pairs of brown loafers. Picking out my clothes for each day was not difficult in the least.

This stylized way of dressing continued up till a few weeks ago. It ended because my friend Dale Cramer (author of LEVI'S WILL) and I were both invited to speak at an event. I showed up in my khaki, blazer ensemble. Dale showed up in blue blazer, white shirt, and jeans. He looked cool and comfortable. He also looked like a writer. I looked like a writer's uncle.

The next day I told my wife about what Dale had worn. She said it sounded nice. I had expected her to have a more forceful opinion about it but nice was all she said. Still the next time I was invited to an event as a writer, she suggested we get something new for me to wear.

At the Mall she suggested jeans. I immediately said no. I mean it was okay for Dale to wear them but Dale isn't paunchy like me. I could just imagine me blimplike in a pair of jeans - not a pretty picture. But my wife persisted and finally I gave in and tried on a pair of jeans. Just as I had imagined, I looked blimplike.

When I got home I put them aside and forgot about them - until it was time to get dressed for the event. Curiosity got the better of me and I pulled on a white shirt, stepped into the jeans, and added a blue blazer. Eureka, I had found a new me! I immediately felt younger, handsomer, slimmer, and more writer-ish. It was amazing.

Today I am living in the world of jeans. I wear them just about everywhere (okay, not to church), and I feel confident and happy. I have chased the blues away with jeans. I am out of my khaki rut and into the world of denim.

The moral here is that life can change no matter what your age. Call it a mid-life crisis, or just call it getting out of a rut. My jeans have changed my life, and when I get that new red sportscar my transformation will be complete.


Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.

Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it are contained in his first book Journey of a Gentle Southern Man. The journey continued in Chances and Choices.

Jackie's first two books, Journey of a Gentle Southern Man and Chances and Choices, were reprinted and published by Mercer University Press in July 2004. His third book Halfway Home was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004.

Cooper's fourth book, released in 2006, is The Bookbinder.

Visit his website, or email Jackie

© Jackie K. Cooper

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2012