Culinary school has a lot of benefits.
We get to taste a new type of dessert everyday, attend food shows, and scarf down what’s left of the themed breakfast buffets every Thursday morning. But culinary school is like any other experience and has its own set of ups and downs. Our pants come to mind. I just hate those pants.
Next week, our semester will come to an end and we’ll return our uniforms to AmeriPride. I will not be sad to part with my pants over the summer. These aren’t just any pants, they’re culinary school pants and we get five pairs. Have I mentioned how much I hate them? Let me count the ways:
First, they’re unisex pants and don’t differentiate between male and female anatomy. I don’t need to explain these differences, only to say that there are reasons why pants aren’t generally offered in unisex shapes.
Not only are these pants unisex, but they have a firm waistband that just doesn’t give. It’s not like these are sweatpants. They’re non-stretchy unisex pants. This is unfortunate considering they’re like clown pants merged with high-waisted, tapered jeans from the 90’s. These pants levitate towards my bosom and are so severely starched that they literally stand on their own legs. When I sit down, they rise, and when I exhale, they squeeze my abdomen like a sausage.
I encountered these pants during my first week of school on Uniform Fitting Day. We took turns meeting with vendor representatives who assigned us pants. Now, I’m a petite individual who already has trouble finding adult clothes, any clothes, and most especially pants. It’s hard to be on either side of the size spectrum, and it’s not fun to be on the small/short size when default sizes are often set to extra large. I hauled a few pairs of pants to the bathroom and tried them on. They fit in such a comically bad way, that I confronted a random girl in the bathroom and asked for reassurance.
“They’re not that bad, are they?”
In the Midwest, “Minnesota Nice” is a reality, not a myth but even she could not say anything nice about the pants. She made a face and replied, “I don’t think those are supposed to fit like that.” That’s when I ran.
I found the AmeriPride representative and showed him my pants so he could see for himself how badly they fit before he sentenced me to wearing them for a year. Even he could not tell me, in good conscience, to just wear the pants, so he made a note to find a different size and hem about a foot from the bottom.
My final grievance about these pants is that they are white. They match our white everything: Pants, jacket, and baseball cap which comes in a one-size-fits-all. No matter how tightly I adjust it, the bill always falls into my eyes. It’s not unusual for me to run into others or biff counters and I maneuver around the kitchen by watching my feet. I know that white symbolizes ideals like cleanliness or purity, but what if it’s accented by spots and streaks in questionable colors? I feel like a walking canvas. A sunset painted in carrot orange, rusty blood, and chocolate streaks. I just hope I don’t unknowingly sit in something colorful. On especially messy days, I jump at the sight of my own clothing. People must look at me and think, “Damn, that girl sure knows how to throw down in the kitchen,” or, “What a klutz!”
In addition to being prone to staining, white pants are also kind of revealing. Some of my white pants are constructed from thick fabric, while others border on transparent. Both become see-through when wet and, since we are often cooking with water or spraying down dirty dishes, this is a significant concern. I have to wear pants underneath my pants because I just don’t trust my pants.
All of this makes me wonder, “Why white? and, “What’s up with these pants?”
Turning in my pants will feel bittersweet, but unfortunately, it’s not a goodbye. It’s a see you later.