THE VOICE WAS UNMISTAKABLE. Sharp and high-pitched as it pushed its way from the ceiling down to the floor. I listened more attentively trying to peg the voice. Then it hit me.
“Is that that Billy Corgan?” I asked my wife. We were walking into a popular clothing store.
“Sure sounds like it,” she said.
“Did he make a Christmas album?”
“I do believe those are jingle bells.”
“Cow bells also. And a xylophone,” I said.
A young man, roughly twenty years of age, approached us as we entered in full. He wore a bright smile and headset. A mic was positioned just at his mouth. He looked like a telephone operator.
Gaydar had spotted him some twenty feet back. Less Red October. More Pink November. He wore a light blue button down oxford. The sleeves were pushed up to his elbows. Like the Brawny Man. Or Chuck Norris when he’s cracking skulls. Or the Brawny Man in earlier photos because the Brawny Man in earlier photos looks like Chuck Norris wearing flannel when he is about to crack skulls with his sidekick, Trevett.
“Good afternoon,” the retail clerk said. Beaming. Slightly effeminate voice. Looking in my wife’s direction. “If I can be of any assistance, please let me know. And one last thing: May I direct your attention to our new line of jeans that just came in this morning?”
Just came in from a Chinese sweatshop, I thought to myself. How many knuckles of overworked child laborers bled over this curvy fit, dark denim?
‘Stop being cynical,’ the internal narrator of my life, whom I call Jason, countered. ‘Your clothes were probably sewn together in an Indonesian sweat shop by a woman eight months pregnant who is enceinte for the sole reason that she was raped by her sweatshop boss. Really, there is no use in fighting it. You could tiptoe through life all you wanted and you would never escape the effects of globalization. Even if you wore a garbage bag as clothing you’d never escape. Do you know how many garbage bags are imported from India each year?’
I had no idea how many garbage bags were imported from India each year.
“Oh I like these,” my wife said to me. “Now help me find a top.”
She had not dragged me along. I volunteered to help her clothes shop. I can’t dress myself for shit but do have a considerable eye for what looks good on the ladies. I am the white reincarnation of Leon Phelps and usually stop off for a fish sandwich sometime after my time spent as a heterosexual fashionista.
Being a fashionista is oftentimes exhausting work and requires a reboosting of blood glucose levels. Glucose is a fancy way of saying “sugar.” 1 in 3 American children will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime and 1 in 3 are already considered overweight or obese partially because of jacked up glucose levels from most everything they eat containing high fructose corn syrup.
“If we’d drop the damn embargo against Cuba and bring in some real sugar cane to this country we wouldn’t have this problem,” my old college roommate Kelly McDowell-McCormick used to say. He’s Irish. In case you couldn’t tell by the name. “You ever drink any Old English 800? That’s good shit.”
He used to always fill the top row of our apartment’s refrigerator with OE800; that, and Chinese take-out. He spent a summer in China and came back with a bootlegged copy of Thank You for Smoking and was so inspired by the Chinese culture he took a job as a rickshaw driver when he got back to the States.
The two of us scoured the store high and low in what was becoming a somewhat futile attempt at piecing together a single outfit.
“What about this,” my wife asked holding up a thin, long-sleeved pink shirt that appeared to be made of spandex with a ruffled front.
Spandex, or elastane, is more durable than rubber and can be stretched up to 500% from its original size and still retain its original form. Because of this statement alone, “more durable than rubber,” spandex should never be worn as an outer layer of clothing.
Because of the second half of this statement (“can be stretched up to 500% from its original size and still retain its original form”), spandex should never be worn as an outer layer of clothing.
Unless you are Heidi Klum. Or Eva Green from the film The Dreamers.
“Their selection is sort of eh,” my wife said. Her face turned sour. “What about this?”
“It’s okay but, I mean, it won’t exactly keep you warm either. Winter is fast approaching and it’s already cold as balls out. And balls are pretty cold, usually 1-2 degrees cooler than normal body temperature. It’s the only way the male species can produce viable sperm and continue the human race. How about this sweater,” I finished.
Inquisitively she responded, “With the buttons on the shoulder?”
“Yep. It’s different. I know.”
“No, I like it actually. I just didn’t think you’d go for something like that.”
“That sweater is hot like Tex Pecante,” I said.
“What,” she said.
She grabbed the two items, paused, found the “Fitting Room” sign and proceeded in that trajectory. I stayed close by her side as if a small puppy with its owner.
I began searching for the man chair but only found, the closer we walked toward the fitting room, another man standing. His hands were in his pockets. He rocked back and forth on the balls and pads of his feet. He wore somewhat dirty and scuffed Adidas running sneakers, a black cap with orange and red flames, which is truly the type of hat that should never be worn in public and why firing squads still exist in Somalia, and had unkempt facial hair.
“Back in a minute,” my wife said smiling walking toward the fitting room. The man with the unkempt facial hair pulled out his cell phone and acted like he was checking for missed calls or text messages but he wasn’t. He wasn’t because I was getting ready to pull out my cell phone to see if I had any missed calls or new text messages. Because that’s what you do when you can’t find the man chair.