Of course like all cut-offs they started out nine years ago as full-length pants, a perfect pair of size 3 stretch-denim jeans that I wore nearly every day.
After about a year I had worn holes in the knees, which I thought made them even more awesome, especially since I hadn't spent $90 on the pre-ripped kind at the Gap like so many people I knew. Nope; mine were legit.
My mom rolled her eyes and threatened to patch them, but I was determined to wear them until they unraveled and the last blue denim threads clung to my skin.
bicycle awareness, 43rd and Oak
Eventually the jeans became downright derelicte, with the knees gaping open like cartoon villains' mouths and the once-dark denim faded to a grayish hue. My mom had given up, seemingly resigning herself to the fact that her daughter was going to dress as though she lived out of a 1985 El Camino and just hoping I'd eventually grow out of it.
The last day I wore the jeans I was walking with my younger cousin K. down the rural Kansas highway in front of our grandma's house. It is a mellow stretch of country road, the type that sees mostly farm traffic and from which people are identified as outsiders if they fail to wave hello.
We were enjoying the mild springtime weather and talking about nothing important when two crazy-ass dogs bounded out of the neighbor's yard and headed straight for us.
Because she is nearly six feet tall, K. is much faster than I am, so when she turned and ran the dogs identified me as the straggler, as their target. They were right on my heels, barking and snarling; one of them snapped and caught a frayed piece of my jeans in its teeth.
After a couple of blocks I spotted a car parked alongside the road, and I managed to leap onto the roof.
I don't remember what happened next. Someone wrangled the wild beasts, or maybe K. had someone drive down the street to get me, but my jeans were ruined. One of the dogs had ripped the back of the left leg off at the knee, and denim strips flapped around my ankle.
On that day, as much as I hated it at the time, my favorite jeans became my favorite jorts.
On that day I also developed an irrational fear of large dogs, to the point where I have climbed a tree to get away from dalmatians in someone's yard or switched parking spots because the car next to me had a doberman chilling in the passenger seat with the windows down.
Though it's been nearly a decade, I kept the shorts, and because of my new and exciting exercise addiction they fit again.
I happened to be wearing them during a bike ride with my boyfriend last week. He hates them as much as my mom did; "why don't you wear real shorts?" he'll say, a question I'll shrug off until the day the thinning back pockets of the shorts disintegrate in the wash.
We were riding through an industrialized part of Kansas City, Kansas, with a row of trees along the right hand side of the road, and I was coasting downhill enjoying the wind on my face when a giant German shepherd leapt out from behind a bush.
"What the fuck?" I shouted, and the hell-beast took off after me, barking and snapping at the rear tire of my bike.
"Ohgodohgodohgodohgod," I said over and over, not looking back until I knew the jaws of terror were safely behind us.
And am I sure the shorts are cursed and it was not merely a coincidence that I got chased by killer dogs on separate occasions nearly ten years apart while wearing the same pants?
No. But I was also wearing them in Yellowstone the day I almost hit a grizzly bear with my brother's car, so it's looking increasingly likely.