How famous do you have to be to get a free pair of jeans, anyway?
This column originally appeared in issue 157 of Rock Sound (February 2012)
There are times in your life where it becomes blaringly obvious that your view of your life is completely different from other people’s view of it.
Take, for example, a normal day out I experienced recently. Now don’t hyperventilate or anything, but the excitement of my day culminated in looking for and procuring jeans. I wasn’t looking for leather pants or special super-stretchy stick britches or anything like that – I just needed new jeans. But everywhere I went, they were either completely gaudy, resplendent with weird stitching and embroidery, or jeans that were made to fit some sort of boxy farmer mannequin: no love, no style and no butt. After a few futile attempts at different outlet shops, I finally stumbled into a store I wouldn’t have been caught dead in on any other given day. But out of desperation and sheer frustration, I said, “How bad can it be?” and began wandering through the aisles, hoping no one would recognise me.
Unfortunately, someone did.
A young gentleman who worked for said store began shadowing my every move, not saying a word and totally creeping me out. Any time I turned in his direction, he pretended to be absorbed in a piece of clothing he was holding, acting like some cheap private dick in a B-movie. After about 15 minutes of this cat-and-mouse horseshit, I’d had enough, spinning around and saying, “Dude – aren’t you the one who is supposed to say, ‘Can I help you?’”
The kid turned pale, jumped back about a foot and a half and clamoured for some kind of explanation for his strange behavior. He began stammering, blurting out lots of vowels and consonants but no real words or phrases, so I backed off a little bit. After he caught his breath, he wheezed out, “Is there anything I can help you find?”
I explained to him that I was looking for good cool jeans, but not ones that looked like they were modeled on stained-glass windows in a church. When this joke went over his head, I quietly gave up and let him drag me around the store. Unfortunately for him, the only jeans he showed me were exactly the ones I was avoiding and I ended up only buying a few flannel shirts.
We went to the counter so I could pay for my selections, shifting down into small talk and doing our best to ignore his earlier weirdness. I was about to hand him my credit card when he gave me a fairly disconcerted look and said, “Why are you looking for jeans anyway?” I was kind of caught off-guard with that, seeing as people really just buy clothes to keep from being in a constant state of nudity – you know, common sense. So I just asked him, “What do you mean?”
He said, “Well, you’re famous, right?”
“Well, uh, sure, I guess.”
“Well… I hope I’m not out of line here…”
“Go ahead, man. What?”
“I guess I just have to ask… don’t you get free clothes and shit when you’re famous?”
I wasn’t really prepared for that question. I stood there for a second, finally saying, “Uhh… well, some people do, I guess. I don’t, but there are a lot of people that do.”
“So why don’t you?”
I thought about it. Why didn’t I? I mean, I’m not Timberlake famous, but I do okay. Why didn’t I take advantage of this fame and whatnot to get more free shit? And the only thought I could come up with was that just wasn’t me. I’ve never felt comfortable taking or receiving anything I didn’t feel I’d earned. I’ve never asked for more than I’ve ever felt I deserved. I’ve got endorsements for stuff, sure, but even that stuff I work for, helping to promote the gear I use to play music and the companies that help me out in the long run. So I’m not a big fan of cashing in whatever my name means and using it to pick through the goodie bags and bargain bins of the rich and shameless. The next thing you know, you’re running around like some billboard, unable to wear clothes you like because contractually you are required by law to wear shit you really don’t feel like. I’ll take my freedom over free jeans any time.
So I said this to the kid. He looked at me, kinda frowned like I’d let him down a bit and replied, “But you could still get free jeans and shit.”
Well, you can’t please or convince everyone.
It is what it is.
Check back next week for another of Corey's classic columns!
Corey Taylor is Rock Sound's longest-standing contributor. Honestly, he is. Google it. For a full page of his ramblings every month, get yourself a subscription to Rock Sound Magazine.
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