April 21, 2012
It was Saturday, April, 21st. The day began like few others, in that it was one to which I had been looking forward for two weeks, if not longer. (It was actually 3 weeks, so it was longer.) Why so excited? Because it was the gateway to a weekend that would involve two of my favorite things: women and food. Not quite “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list, I know, but I’m a simple man with simple needs, a “Man of the People”, an “Every Man”, if you will. (If you won’t, that doesn’t really concern me. Never said I was a nice man.)
To my delight –a word I rarely use in conjunction with “my”— the weekend fun had gotten off to an early start as Friday (April 20th for the calendar-challenged among you) involved another of my favorite things: pants. “Pants??? Aren’t you the one who has tried since 2002 to institute ‘No Pants Wednesdays’?” many of you may be asking. Yes, I am, but these were no ordinary pants. No, no ordinary pant were these. These were pants from the genus commonly referred to as “Lounge”. More versatile than it’s cousin the Pajama, which is primarily an indoor, nocturnal pant (save for times of illness where it can be seen all day, and the cross-breeding experiment known as the “pajama jean” that can be worn in a variety of settings…but shouldn’t), the Lounge Pant can be seen during all hours of the day. Suitable for indoor or outdoor inactivity, the lounge pant can be worn for brief excursions to the end of the driveway to retrieve the paper, check / drop off mail, or speak with your neighbor. They are also acceptable when signing for packages and taking delivery of prepared meals. Wherever they are seen, they send the following message to observers: “I feel fine…and ‘No’.” The lounge pant is not available in footed form as if to say, “I don’t need foot covering, as I don’t plan to do much of anything that requires me to be upright or make use of my feet.” These are not a “chore pant”, and should never be mistaken for or used as such. Kohl’s had these magnificent specimens on sale for the irresistible price of $9.99. I bought three pair. (Was one pair $15.00? Yes. Was it worth the higher price-point? That chapter has yet to be written for, in the true spirit of “lounge”, I ordered them online…and neither shipping nor handling was extra.)
When Saturday rolled around, I was still high from the excitement of having procured reasonably-priced lounge pants. Would the rest of the fun-filled weekend be filled by unexpected excitement? Let’s find out. I hopped about of bed, greeted the morn with a smile, fired up the stereo, and danced into the master bath. I was as giddy as a middle-aged woman sitting with Matthew McConaughey at a Justin Timberlake concert (Shemar Moore at an Usher concert? William Levy at a Alejandro Sanz concert?) Why so excited? Because the day was scheduled to begin with my first-ever appearance at The Southern Women’s Show, end with some quality time with a friend, with a dinner of Bullock’s BBQ thrown in for good measure.
First order of business, The Southern Women’s Show. Anyone who truly knows me knows that I like my women like I like my diarrhea: explosive, constantly flowing, and originating from The South. But this was no mere speed-dating “perv-portunity”. No, I was there on business. Namely, to promote breast cancer awareness. After getting my Exhibitor’s badge, I headed into the showroom. Like any man would do when presented with a map to an unfamiliar place, I refused to acknowledge the existence of any such “map” and winged it. I started down the leftmost aisle, weaving my way through the throngs of women looking for bargains, discovering new trends, and, most importantly, getting free samples. I was like a kid in a candy shop, or a grown man in a Target. As luck would have it, the booth was on the rightmost aisle. Even though my intentions were always good, I always seemed to get into “situations” when volunteering for breast cancer awareness. You understand, it wasn’t so much the cancer or awareness portions, but rather the location I was drawing awareness to, that tended to get me into trouble. Knowing this, I scanned my surroundings for potential “traps”. (Other than the thousands of women, that is.) My “neighbors” in this celebration of all things woman included several seemingly innocuous vendors selling chocolates, nail care and decoration, and glitter-based skin art. There was even an emergency exit in the event I needed to make a hasty exit. So far, so good.
I was greeted at the start of my shift with the following instruction: “We’re gonna need you to stand out in the aisle, look cute, and draw women’s attention.” The other volunteers also offered to glue a pink feather to my head and accessorize me in pink beads, which could be worn as a necklace or a bracelet.
“Ladies,” I explained firmly, but respectfully, as I am a Southern Gentleman…and was grossly outnumbered, “I am not some doll to be accessorized. Some toy to be played with. I am a man…not a mannequin.” I then stood out in the aisle with pink tote bags dangling from my arm…because I wanted to…as a man. It’s called dignity, people.
Trouble began to rear its ugly head when a young, brunette came by the booth. For the record, the only thing hotter than an attractive woman wearing a short, flowing dress with knee-high boots is that same woman sucking on a tiny spoon long after the free sample has been devoured. “Do you check yourself regularly?” she asked with a grin.
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Terminator”, I ran through a list of possible responses. Unlike The Terminator, it took me a while to run through all of the potential responses / ramifications. I also had a brief smile on my face at some of the more “inappropriate” ones, most of which were at or near the top. (I don’t have much of a poker face.) “Yes, I do.”
“Good,” she continued, “because can’t men get breast cancer, as well?”
“Yes, they can.”
“Well, then you should check yourself regularly…I mean, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Men have these, too,” she said while lifting her chest.
“Yes…yes, we do.”
“Are you going to be in the Bachelor Auction?”
“I don’t think so.”
“I have a thing about being auctioned off in The South.”
“Understandable, but it’s for a good cause.”
“I believe they said the same thing to my ancestors…they also promised free travel. Just not my thing.”
“Okay, well, keep checking yourself.”
“That wasn’t too bad,” I thought to myself. “If that’s the worst that happens today, I’m good.” Of course, if that was the extent of it, it wouldn’t be my life. The tote bags proved quite popular, and we had soon exhausted the day’s supply. Problem was, it was only 11:00 AM, and I had two more hours left in my shift. The woman that owned the booth, apparently afraid of my dignity’s impending return, decided it would be fun to replace the dangling tote bags with strands of pink beads. When you mix the following elements: attractive women, beads, me, and breast [cancer] awareness, Trouble is not far behind.
Woman: “What do I have to do to get some beads?”
Me (looking to the heavens for guidance): “Just ask.”
Woman: “That’s it? Nothing else?”
Me: “That’s…that’s it.”
At about the same time, more trouble was brewing over at the glitter booth. Everything was fine when women were getting the designs placed on their cheek, shoulder, arm, or upper back. The “trouble” began when a woman in a peasant blouse decided to get one of her breasts “be-glittered”. Once she opened that door, other women decided to follow suit. (The road to Hell may be paved with good intentions, but the Southern star that leads you there is actually a glitter-covered breast…Or so I’ve been told.) “Beads, and glitter, and boobs…Oh my!” I feared for my Soul…
Fortunately, my shift ended before my head exploded. (My soul had been a lost cause since ’86. I believe it was a Tuesday. It was raining.) After a quick knowledge-transfer to the next set of volunteers, I headed for the exit. Had this been a concert, shopping mall, or dance recital, I would’ve looked for the path of least resistance. Since this was the Southern Women’s Show, however, I decided to “go salmon” and head upstream against the current. It was a good decision. A really, really good decision.
The second order of business was to make my way down to my parents’ house in
with a brief stop to Bullock’s BBQ. I had called my mother the night before to get her order. She told me exactly what she wanted. She didn’t need a menu…Neither of us did. This, after all, was Bullock’s. I entered Bullocks into the GPS. The road resembled a series a smiley faces ending in a gate that floated in the clouds. I wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to signify the Pearly Gates of Heaven or the Durham, NC from “Empire Strikes Back”. Given that my chances of ever seeing either were roughly equal, I didn’t dwell too much on the meaning of the symbolism. I just wanted barbecue, Brunswick Stew, and, of course, hushpuppies. As I rounded the turn to Bullocks, my stereo tuned itself to the local Gospel music station, a single beam of light shone from the sky, and the car floated along the road as if on a cloud. “Could still make the argument for Cloud City ,” I thought to myself. Cloud City
I got out of my car and headed inside. On the way in, I noticed that someone had dropped a hushpuppy on the concrete pathway leading up to the main building. I bent down to “investigate” further.
“You’re not going to eat that, are you?” a stranger asked
“Five-second rule,” I responded.
“How do you know how long it’s been there?”
“I only saw it five seconds ago.”
“The clock starts when it hits the ground; not when you see it.”
“If food hits the ground, and there’s no one there to see it. Did it really hit the ground?”
“The fact that it’s on the ground would suggest yes.”
“I’m not here to get into a philosophical discussion around this topic with you…Unless, you have the time.”
“I really don’t.”
I went inside the restaurant, got my food, and headed for home. While I was headed back to my car, I noticed that lone hushpuppy still sitting on the ground. I looked around, saw no one, and leaned down to “investigate” once again.
“You’re not going to eat that are you?” a different stranger asked.
“Why not? Heat kills germs..”
“That is true, but it was dropped after it was cooked. So…”
“It’s pretty warm out.”
“Actually, it’s rather brisk.”
“Actually, it’s rather brisk.”
“The fried casing protects it from germs.”
“So, you’re going to open it up and remove the ‘meat’?”
“Just leave it.”
I got into “Shakira” and headed home for some food and fellowship with the fam. As always, the meal did not disappoint. (The “fam” was touch-and-go, but for the most part – 60/40— they were good, as well. Had my siblings been around, they probably would’ve tipped the scale in the other direction.)
The third order of business was to catch up with a friend. I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks and had promised her a massage. So, I got changed --sports shirt, black khakis, sport coat, and a casual shoe. I was dressed to the nines, and looked like a 10. (That’s an 11% Return on Sexy.)
(Editor’s Note: The following events occurred as they are reported; without embellishment. Some things you just can’t make up.)
After we exchanged pleasantries and caught up, it was time to make good on my promise. Wanting to provide the full experience afforded to clients of the McCloud Mobile Spa and Relaxation Clinic (McCloud…get your relaxate on.), I handed her a 2-piece box of Godiva chocolate to enjoy.
“Chocolates? For me?”
“The McCloud Spa aims to provide an experience that excites all five senses: taste, touch—“
As she was enjoying the first piece of chocolate, I removed my sport coat and sport shirt to reveal a black, tank (oft referred to as an “A-shirt”)…100% cotton…ribbed…tagless...made by the loving hands and inspected by the discerning eyes of an American textile industry still trying to find its place in this new economic reality. It was as easy on the skin as it was the eyes, and provided the range of motion necessary to deliver a fully-relaxing experience. A quality garment.
The lighting was adjusted, the music was set, she was lying comfortably on the couch, and I pulled the ottoman into position. I had created the perfect spa moment. A moment so perfect, in fact, that Fate could not just sit idly by. For when I straddled the aforementioned ottoman, the otherwise still air was suddenly filled by a brief, but very loud, “RIP!!!”, and I felt a blast of cold air against my thigh.
“Did you fart?!?” she asked as she was jolted from her Oasis of Serenity.
“No, I didn’t fart!” I responded.
When I looked down in the direction of the noise, however, I wished that I had farted. The loud sound and accompanying rush of air was the result of my pants quite literally, coming apart at the seams. This was no small, sitcom-ish tear, mind you. (That’s not worth Fate’s time.) No, this tear started at my man region and ended two inches above my knee.
“Good thing you’re wearing dark underwear.”
“Good thing I’m wearing underwear.”
“Where are you going?” she asked as I was getting up.
“I was going to drive back to my parents and change into some jeans.”
“I don’t see why this has to interfere with my massage. Gets to rubbing…You know, they sell slacks with an extra-large crotch at a store in the mall.”
“First of all, ‘Thank You’. Secondly, I don’t think that's the problem, but feel free to tell your friends that it was.”
“Hand me my other piece of chocolate.”
“Stop staring at my crotch.”
“I don’t see what one has to do with the other…chocolate.”
“What’s the magic word?”
The “luxury spa” mood had been replaced by two friends cracking jokes and telling stories, which is exactly what we both needed. Today was a good day.
Cue “The Cube”…