All I wanted was a new pair of blue jeans. I waited like a good little shopper until the post-holiday sales began and then went to the Levi’s store on 14th street, where a few years ago I scored the perfect pair of jeans. If I were a teenager, those jeans would’ve been my traveling pants, baby, oh yeah. I was smart enough at the time to buy two pairs, but I should’ve bought about ten.

I wore my perfect jeans into the store and asked where I’d find 505 jeans.

The clerk said I could have Levi’s new curve-id jeans in slight curve, demi-curve, or bold curve; I could get whiskered finish, dark finish, broken-in finish; I could get boot cut, straight leg, or skinny leg; I could get skinny boot cut; I could get boyfriend jeans in dark denim, distressed denim, gray denim; I could get boyfriend skinny boot cut; boyfriend baggy; boyfriend straight leg. I could get 501s in boot cut, straight leg, skinny leg; I could 501s in dark gray, black, deep blue; fade.

But I couldn’t get 505s.

Oh, I tried. I really wanted to buy something, so I explored every possibility.  I tried 501s and wrestled with the button fly; I tried the curve-id jeans and found that: slight curve did not go over even one thigh, much less two; demi-curve went over my thighs but were such a low rise that the simple act of walking made me look ready to work the stripper pole; the bold curve, which the clerk told me was designed for “big butt tiny waist,” didn’t work at all: I am effectively a woman without a waist. If you were to draw my torso, it would be a rectangle with boobs. Not at all “bold” (and what genius came up with that designation, I wonder?)

I tried men’s jeans. Men still get 505s, apparently, but they’re made without lycra. One reason my perfect jeans are perfect have to do with their gentlest whisper of stretch, so essential to those mornings when the jeans are fresh from the wash and you need just a little give to fasten the top button. (I mean, hypothetically speaking, of course. I never, ever need to do the suck-in-and-PULL to get my jeans on.) While sweating and tugging on the non-lyrca-ed men’s jeans in the dressing room, I realized that I’ve become a lyrca addict. Isn’t that the way addiction always starts? You buy something innocently enough–this seems nice, makes me happy, I’ll take it–and then you wake up to realize you can’t live without it.

Why, oh why, Mr. Levi Strauss did you have to mess with my perfect jeans? Now where am I going to go? Don’t even whisper the word “Gap” to me, people, because trying to find jeans there sends me into a choice-paralysis that I don’t recover from for days.

I stomped home, empty handed, wondering if it’s finally happened: have I gotten too old to shop anywhere but “lady’s stores?”  Is it impossible to buy a pair of jeans that just look like jeans, without spending hundreds of dollars? Am I doomed to stone-washed LL Bean disasters just because I don’t want to wear jeans that sit south of my pelvic girdle?

Maybe 2011 will be the year where I wear yoga pants. Everywhere, for every occasion.