A friend just offered up a pair of her jeans on facebook. “They fit,” she said. “I just can’t stand the boot cut.” Well, that’s the thing about jeans. They’re all basically the same garment, but there are style variations, and everyone has a type they prefer, and if you stick them in the wrong jeans they feel all wrong in a fundamental way, as though they’d put their underwear on backwards. My friend wants skinnier jeans. This pair makes her feel like she’s in eighth grade again, and we can all agree that can’t be good.

We couldn’t wear jeans in school when I was in eighth grade and I’m not even sure I had any. At home I wore thin-wale corduroys. I had to lie down on the bed to get them zipped up. If I could stand up again, I stayed stood. They didn’t make stretch pants back then. Well, they did, but not the kind that looks like real pants. Maybe your friends’ mothers wore them. They were pink pedal-pushers, and came with a cocktail and a cigarette.

When I was a junior they finally relaxed our school dress code. My jeans were bell-bottoms. People used to wear bell-bottoms until they wore out and then they’d patch them by hand. If you were a boy, some girl might offer to patch them and embroider butterflies on them for you, because you were cute and had no skills. And if the bell bottoms weren’t belled enough they inserted extra gussets in a bright calico. It’s a miracle nobody added crinolines. Stick little ostrich-feather hats on our kneecaps and we’d have looked like we were walking a pair of Victorian ladies in hoop skirts.

I must credit my modest, ladylike mother for not interfering when I took these jeans with me to college. The patches required handwork after every laundering until they were patch-to-patch with no original material. Fortunately, I didn’t launder often. I can’t rule out that the secret to their longevity involved body fluids.

Every day I paired those jeans with a simple black leotard and no bra, an outfit that left little to the imagination. At the time, in 1970, of course, no imagination was required.

My patchy jeans surrendered completely at some point, probably capitulating into powder while I was wearing them, and by then, tight, high-rise jeans had come into fashion. It’s impossible for a young person to ignore fashion, which explains that whole lie-on-the-bed-to-zip interlude. The high-risers had a nice corset effect that accentuated my waistline, which existed at the time. Shirt tucked in, narrow sparkly belt, score! Finally, by the time I was old enough to disdain fashion, they quit making my jeans. You couldn’t find a high-waisted trouser anywhere. You could buy pants with a zipper that only had four teeth in it and comb your pubes over the top, or you could get some a little higher, but it never felt right to me to have all my belly blobbery spilling out.

But it’s not just jeans that change styles. Bodies do too. For my whole life women strove for flat butts, and turned one hip forward for photos so that they didn’t look too wide down there. Suddenly butts were the big thing. Girls posed sideways to show off their cantilevered asses and the jeans cut right across the largest circumference so you couldn’t miss it. This has been going on for twenty years and finally a couple years ago I saw some high-rise jeans in the store. Whaa! I bought them right away. Looked right enough in the dressing room!

Except now all my belly blobbery was squoze to the top and that treasured tight waistline felt awful. I worried about my intestines. I wore them once.

Here’s what I want now. Something below the waist but not stupidly below the waist, something that looks like real denim—no stonewashed, no rips, no fake-worn—but made of stretch material. Honey. These ain’t Ann-Margret’s stretch pants. These are regular-looking jeans that forgive you when you bend over. I’d thank the person who invented this fabric, but St. Peter isn’t letting me past the velvet rope.