Earlier this week, June Howell ventured to put on an ancient, dusty pair of jeans she had not touched since the Before Times.
“Based on the placement in the closet, the creases, and my own memory, I would date these as last worn in February, possibly early March of 2020,” Howell explains. “You can actually learn a lot about what life was like back then just from this one object.”
Howell donned a mask and gloves while removing the jeans from the closet’s bottom shelf, in keeping with general excavation protocol, and also because she had them lying around.
“To bring something so anachronistic into the world of my apartment feels strange,” says Howell. “They almost look like a movie prop or something; it’s hard to believe this is the real thing.”
“But I’m the hands-on type, so once I got them out of their load-bearing position under my slacks, I went for it and put them on,” Howell adds. “I truly felt transported. Also, the ass is a bit tighter, so good for me.”
But the journey of discovery still had twists and turns to come.
“Once I put them on, I reached into the back pocket, and I swear to God there was a movie ticket in there,” Howell says. “I mean, a nesting doll artifact, that’s the dream.”
“It was a ticket for Blue Velvet and I was like, holy shit, these jeans are from 1986,” Howell adds. “But then I was like, oh no, I wasn’t alive in 1986, I just went to a midnight screening of Blue Velvet at Nitehawk last winter. Still, pretty crazy.”
Though Howell is grateful for all she learned from the jeans, she warns against the dangers of wishing to return to the past.
“I dug out these denim pantaloons to get drinks with a friend, but at this point, I think they ought to be for display only,” she says. “Because the main thing I learned from all of this is that I do miss when the world wasn’t ravaged by a pandemic, but I really don’t miss pants with buttons.”
“Learn from history,” Howell adds. ”Don’t repeat it.”