OR: Do these Reeboks make my A$$ look REALLY big?
Not only am I now certain the whole world revolves around me -I have irrefutable proof.
The newest scandal involving marketing Pinocchioism :i.e.- magical tennis shoes that tone your posterior, legs, and now and forever OLD SCHOOL still rules.
Screw objectivity- the Gawd of Get-Back is squarely in my corner.
Four weeks ago- in a fit of either misplaced guilt or uncharacteristic generosity – I offered to take my lovely (read long suffering) wife out to the (*$ )NEW ($*) Silver Spring city mall to buy her a new pair of purple tennis shoes she had been lusting for – (Lusting is the right term folks- this story involves a woman and shoes.) There was a sale. And a coupon.
And I had been a tightwad for a decade.
Lets just say my (shopping) Karma had run over my(anti-shopping) Dogma.
Okay- for those of you young un-married smart-asses-here’s a short lesson in modern translation between the sexes:
SALE in woman-speak=
A coupon and a sale means savings and the excellent get.
SALE in man speak=
What makes you think buying crap you don’t need is an economically sound maneuver in any way shape or form?
(Visions of a discount coupon for the Titanic come to mind.)
Or-in my case- Jesus Shana, you’ve only got TWO FEET…why do you need forty pair of shoes?
Or- when I’m REALLY determined to eat my own cooking (peanut-butter oatmeal-cold) for a week -I might conjure up a brilliant verbal hyperlink like:
Fer Chrissakes- I married an octopus!
(Attention unmarried smart-asses- Avoid saying the above. Or invest in fast food stocks and stool softeners.)
Ok. Enough eschatological suppositorial conjecture
She had a coupon.
Yer going shopping dude.
We enter the discount shoe store and browse. Browsing with mother and daughter means carrying a reader’s digest version of War and Peace to read between footwear choices.
Of course my wife-also nicknamed “The Finder” or in Levite tribal vernacular “Shops With A Fist, Bubke”- found the natty purple Chuck Taylors she wanted within forty seconds..but, there are so-oo many choices in our great Republic..why stop there?
I sit on a footstool (see what I did there?) and skim chapter 400 of my Russian masterpiece, occasionally looking up defensively at the (seriously) most corpulent woman I have ever witnessed balancing in stiletto heels.
She is a little too close. I don’t want to be judgmental, unfeeling, or socially incorrect – but I don’t want this woman to lose her balance in those carnal pole-dancer stilettos and crush me like a ripe watermelon under a Semi.
There’s nothing safe about being the only man in a shoe store full of feral females in search of bargain footwear. Go climb yer lame ass Himalayan mountain or walk your tight-rope over Times Square, or hunt Bigfoot (skim-dick) THIS takes REAL balls. Attila the Hun would avoid this adventure and hide in his yurt counting yaks.
After reminding my dear spouse that we came in on a surgical strike for purple Chuck Taylor tennis shoes-(which are under her arm being squeezed in case they come to life and attempt escape) and adding that my prostate can’t take too much more bargain hunting- (I’m afraid to ask for directions to the ‘Mens Room’- certain there isn’t one.) “The Finder” relents and we saunter over to take our place in line at the check-out counter. Our daughter has found some bunny slippers she doesn’t need. And a jutted out lower lip daring me to mention the fact that she has two pairs of bunny slippers already. (I know better.)
There are stylish young people ringing up the discount footwear with the quasi-superior air of college sophomores in the presence of three-legged gerbils.
Our shoe selling barista, a well-coiffed metro-sexual dressed in the hip clothes purchased straight out of a trendy catalog, eyes me with something bordering on the contempt one reserves for an old, fat, clueless Baby Boomer- and says:
“I’m Jeremy- I’ll be your cashier today.”
“ Thank-you, Jeremy,” I answer, “I’m so relieved.”
“Shhh-hh!” hisses my wife pushing me to the side and in one magnificent motion relieves me of my Mastercard.
“These are on sale I believe…I have a coupon.” announces Shana, with all the certainty of a satisfied lioness displaying a kill.
“Oh, so sorry- but this sale only covers Ath-u-letic Footwear.”
“These are Chuck Taylors…the sale only covers Reebok or Nikes.. you know, Ath-u-letic Footwear.”
“Hey thur, Germy,” I chirp, pausing to read his name tag and mispronouncing his name on purpose; “…but I believe those Chuck Taylors are capable of being tennis shoes – as in tennis, or running shoes, as in running…wearing an ath-letic cup jock strap… as in chasing game balls. See? The original Ath-letic Footwear were Chuck Taylor high-top sneakers.”
Jeremy looked at me as if I had said the rumbletoadeatschikenbythemidnight scar- in Aramaic.
“Es-cuse me?” he mock-snorts.
“That’s what I’m trying to do, Germy. These are ancient mysteries only ninth degree Masons, Illuminati, or those born in the nineteen fifties could possibly know. But for you I’ll make an exception- listen carefully- I’ll whisper…soylent green is people and Chuck Taylors are ATH-LETIC shoes.”
Jeremy had that frozen possum smile people display when asked by a naked man for directions to a festive beheading. In church.
Jeremy apparently also has a microphone grafted to his palm.
“Any available manager to the front desk please…the front desk…any available manager.”
Jeremy did what every good novice sub-management trainee does- he immediately passed the buck and abrogated all responsibility. It is my guess that Jeremy had a future in politics.
I was secretly glad he used the intercom and interrupted that hideous Journey song:
‘Don’t stop belieeeee-vun- hold to that FEEEEEEE-eee-eeeee-EEEEEEEEEE-ul-lun!’
Jeremy and I were in a zoological smirk duel – He the possum, I the smiling chimp.
(Three guesses what a chimp is about to do when he smiles, chum..)
“May I help you, sir?”
It was the manager lady. She was 24 to Jeremy’s 22 years on my planet.
“I’m not sure. But you can help my wife buy this pair of Athletic footwear.”
“For the advertized discount.” Adds Shana.
The manager-lady looks at the purple Chuck Taylor’s in barely disguised pity.
“Oh, my gosh golly- our discount only applies to Athletic footwear, you know, Reebocks, Adidas, Nikes.”
“Wow,” I chimpsmile at my wife, “…twins.”
“I have a coupon.”
“Oh yes! Good golly, I can see that m’am..but those only cover Ath-uh-letic footwear…not casual footwear.”
“Romulus and Remus…country and western.” I mutter to no one.
Jeremy stands like his butt is frozen to an ice sculpture.
“Okay…like my husband tried to tell you..Chuck Taylors are Athletic wear.”
“Oh. I see. Yes; but not here.” The manager-lady says using her finest mommy-talks-to-toddler tone.
Poor thing, methinks with indeterminate dread, she just made a big mistake trying to shut down ‘Shops-With-A-Fist (my wife’s secret woodland name.)
“I. Have. A. Coupon!”
My wife’s diction has become perspicuous and her face is becoming a wholly unknown (previously undocumented) shade of burgundy. Dangerous.
All at once I know exactly what I must do.
I snatch the coupon out of my wife’s hand and ram it to my mouth and chew it like a secret agent saving the planet Treefrog. Everyone in the line, including blimp-lady with the glittering stilettos, stop and stare. Time and space hiccup. God takes a power-nap. Nothing moves. No lungs expel carbon-dioxide until I swallow my nugget.
“I demand to pay full price.” I say, the delicate taste of coupon still caressing my tongue.
“That wasso not helpful.” My wife’s eyes well up; either close to tears or about to roll on the store floor laughing.
“Ring it up Germy. Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it…here’s thirty bucks, cash.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to look at our new line of slimming and toning Reebocks? They are guaranteed to slim you down as you walk or exercise. They are on sale.” The frightened manager-lady chirps like a pinched chihuahua. (Coupon eating husbands were not part of her training at the corporate robot-mill.)
“Ok, that postulation is way-y more absurd than eating a scrap of sale paper.”
“Oh no, sir;” says manager-lady looking directly at my wife, trying desperately to salvage the situation, “…this line of Athletic footwear is scientifically proven to help the wearer reduce weight and tone the thighs, buttocks and abs.” She touches each part of her Gen-Ex body to illustrate.
“I have more science- Eating feeds you and water is wet. Grisly science.”
“Shh-hhh! You are frightening everyone.” Hisses my wife. This only encourages me.
“Yo, Germy, did you know Fruit Loops are Apple Jacks, Chocolate is the State Bird and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is the real National Anthem.”
This time my wife and the manager lady both ignore me. I have Jeremy’s undivided attention. Now the coup de gras. “Wearing Chuck Taylors, however, are guaranteed to produce the sensation of oral sex while walking.”
The pitying look in the manager Chihuahua’s eyes and flagging retail smile reveal her tacit understanding that the woman with the non-ath-u-letic purple shoes is shopping with an unfortunate afflicted with some indefinable version of Tourette’s syndrome.
“Thank-you, come again!” Jeremy soggy eyes dart to the manager, hoping for extrication and absolution as he crams the purple Chucks into a shopping bag, puts the receipt in my hand and drops my smattering of change into my waiting hand as if my palm were a full of bloodworms.
“Banality is as contagious as premature jactitation, Germy.”
The only sound that escapes manager-lady’s lips is a: A-hh-um-ahaaa reserved for shoppers with thalidomide children.
Have a nice day. Come again; she manages.
I doubted her veracity.
“Sorry, my husband has onomatomania and a touch of extrusionary meosis.”
The manager-lady and Jeremy the metrosexual nod in complete misunderstanding.
My heart swells with a sort of carnival-barkers’ pride – my wife has both memorized and utilized the phrase I offered her as an instant get-out-of-awkward-jail card whenever I behave like this in public.
We leave with the handsomely packaged hard-won(un-discounted) Chuck Taylors.
My wife walks a full ten paces ahead of me the entire length of Fenton Street.
I am content. My work is done here. Today has been a productive day in retail.
**And now the irrefutable truth **
A month passes since my Einstein-inspired dissertation at the discount shoe store. All my transgressions have been forgotten.
Tonight the Nightly News reports that Reebock has been exposed for BULLSHIT involving scientific claims of ass-ab-leg toning bestowed by their magical Ath-uh-letic footwear.
(Some corporate spokespersons’ head is rolling across the floor in reverb. Some C.E.O.’s lying ass is going to pay dearly.)
The payout is huge- 25 bizillion dollars to the egregiously bilked overweight Ath-HA-letic shoe consumer who needed the Federal Trade Commission to explain in a prime time, coast to coast press conference that wearing “special” tennis shoes will not automatically replace a 20-minute work-out, a Saturday morning jog, a bicycle ride or the shutting our consumer society’s collective junk food swallowing piehole. This seems like no mystery. No special sauce. Muscles are not Chia pets or instant pudding.
To this I would add that wearing special shoes will not result in winged chittering magical monkeys flying out your ass. But that remark would expose an altogether unattractive, and cynical outlook.
I guess I’ll have to admit I’m just a barmecidal heterodox who has ‘old school ‘issues with vapid corporate dogshit.
So sue me.
Or better yet, gimme control of that 25 bizillion bucks and I’ll deliver ten-speed bikes to every door in America. If there’s any money left over I’ll take the change in purple Chuck Taylor high-tops and distribute these to the fattest most un-Athletic cheesesteak gobbling cities on the East Coast with a fortune-cookie message: Take A Hike. No coupon necessary.
Next week’s column explores the question:
Is Stupidity the new Swine-Flu?
Next Month: The Algorithm of Caffeine Marketing; or watch me make a row of Starbucks barista brains explode like mushroom spores on the Nature Channel by positing the eschatological question:
“Don’t you people sell regular ol’ frickin’ coffee?”