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Crossing barbed wire fences is an art


Some people like to buy jeans with holes already in the fabric. I, however, prefer my new britches with only traditional waist and leg openings. Unfortunately, because I’m not good at crossing barbwire fences, I’ve ripped some fashionable extra tears in my denims.

One pair had a rent in the upper inseam that I was able to mend well enough to wear them in public. The other I managed to catch by the seater, and no matter how tiny my stitches were, I couldn’t piece that “L”shaped rip together without a visible patch. Regardless of how many young folks buy jeans with intentional rips, it just isn’t cool to be in public only to realize your needlecraft failed, leaving your undies on display.

Despite initial appearances, this article isn’t really about torn jeans. They’re simply a result of ineffective efforts to get from one side of barbed wire to the other. People who’ve lived long in this country know fence crossing is an art. It isn’t something you wake up one morning to discover is your area of expertise. If author Malcolm Gladwell is correct, you’d need to climb over about 9,999 such enclosures before you were an expert. While I’m not sure that number is necessary, I know it takes practice to perform this feat without damaging fence, flesh, or pants.

Before you think about your own well-being or that of your clothing when crossing these barriers, you have to be sure the fence doesn’t get messed up when you either lift a leg over or stretch the top and middle wires wide enough to allow an  adult to squeeze through. Fixing fence is no fun, so you don’t want to set yourself up for stapling line back on posts or having to splice it. If you’re responsible, you aren’t going to mess up a landowner’s hard work and then not repair it.

Once you’ve made sure you aren’t damaging that wire barricade, you need to decide whether you have long enough legs  or  superhuman leaping power to get yourself over the obstacle without jabbing yourself in some tender parts. It’s difficult to maintain composure among a group of friends and hunting buddies when you’ve hung your inner thigh up on a metal projectile. It’s more challenging to act like everything is fine with your nether regions attached to that fence, and you can’t find a place to grab the torturous cable without catching hand flesh and ripping it as well

If you can’t make it over the obstacle, you need to squeeze your hunting-gear-encased torso between taut lines and then drag your legs through one at a time. For folks who don’t practice yoga regularly, this is difficult. You’re also depending on a fallible human to spread those lines wide. Sometimes the responsible party gets distracted. All the apologies in the world don’t make it feel better when you’ve been twanged between two strands of barbed wire—and that’s after you get your clothes and hair detached.

I’ve ripped enough almost-new jeans to wonder if some outdoors person who wasn’t very good at crossing barbed wire fences was responsible for making torn denims fashionable. I don’t have to pay extra for torn pants. A trip out of doors updates my wardrobe considerably.