Monday, April 21, 2008

Dress Shirt Shopping

I need shirts. There are three main reasons behind the need.

First, all my shirts are plaid. Let's face it, plaid was hawt when I was a teenager. Everyone wanted to go grunge because it was the style! Plaid long-sleeved shirt, corduroy shorts, gray wool socks, Teva sandals, Stussy hat, and Grateful Dead necklace. I was the A bomb of bombs baby. Unfortunately this is 2008 and Eddie Vedder doesn't even wear plaid anymore. Kurt Cobain is probably rolling, kicking, and screaming in his grave trying to tear his plaid shirt off with his bony skelli-fingers.

Second, I work for a cookie company. Despite the fact that I work with rail thin people, I gained twenty pounds in 5 months without even noticing. I.V. Crisco drips couldn't cause this kind of weight gain. Memo to Barry Bonds... ditch the 'roids (STE, not HEMOHR) my friend and buy one of my white chocolate macadamia cookies. 4 ounces and 430 calories of liquid sugar bliss that will add pounds to your frame quicker and heavier than a sumo wrestler down a waterslide. Cookietree brownies are chocolate death. And I die daily.

Finally, I just don't spend money on clothes. With all of the rockin' DLC released weekly for Rock Band, who can afford clothes? I rotate three pair of jeans and three marginally acceptable shirts on a weekly basis. And I'm in sales, where impressions are everything. Chunky Chris Cornell wannabes aren't typically taken seriously.

I had a trip scheduled to meet some clients in the Omaha/Lincoln areas and decided to get serious. It was time to splurge. It was time for Kohls. Because when you think designer shirts, you naturally think...KOHLS, right? My taste in clothing is consistent if not boring. I like greens, greys, and khakis. Any blues or reds are always subdued.

Do you remember the third Indiana Jones movie? It's the one where Dr. Jones is required to choose THE Holy Grail from among hundreds of false grails. Before he makes his choice, the bad guy chooses. He goes after the most elaborate gem-encrusted goblet in the cave. Something you'd imagine Liberace drinking appletinis from. After drinking from the billion dollar goblet, he transforms from human to Iron Maiden's "Eddie" in a a matter of seconds, then drops dead. To which the knight templar guardian casually says "he chose....poorly." Indie, on the other hand, chooses the least likely grail for a king. A simple wooden chalice fit for a carpenter. He chose wisely.

Considering dress shirts wasn't terribly dissimilar from searching for the proper holy grail. I was hoping to see a beam of light gracefully illuminating my Excalibur. Instead I wandered around like one of those old retarded people you see on the news that forgot to take his meds and winds up working in a Sheboigan WalMart. Finally, however, I felt a faint pull. My soul was being guided. I closed my eyes and gave in fully to the pull, submitting to this obvious divine intervention. Finally I had arrived. I breathed deeply, swallowed hard, and opened my eyes to behold the gayest pink dress shirt ever woven.

Was I channeling Don Johnson? Was the divine pull actually Barry Manilow playing with a Tyler voodoo doll? I have never owned a pink shirt. I've seen men wear them. But usually it's the crazy jewish Apprentice contestant with a matching bow tie. Occasionally you'll see one of those "metro sexuals" pimping a pink shirt. What's the deal with that term anyhow? Why don't we say "gay dudes that haven't taken the plunge yet?" All I knew is this had to be a mistake. So I exercised the demons, browsed the tools and electronics to man-up, and went back to the shirt section. No matter what I did or where I went. No matter what kind of pact I made with demons or pleas I made to God, I was repeatedly drawn back to the pink blouse. So I called dad. There's no way that guy owns a pink shirt. Naturally I got voice mail. I figured I'd try my boss next. No answer. I was alone. Terribly, terribly alone. But hey, I'm a spiritual guy. When God leads you to a pink shirt, you buy the freaking shirt and wear it with manly pride. Gay pride. Metro pride. Oh the humiliation! The young attractive girl at the register giving me the sparklie eye and half-smirk didn't help either.

For those of you that haven't had the delight of visiting the midwest, let me lay it out for you. There is no tact. Anywhere. Very little intelligence and common ignorance. A typical conversation would be, "So where ya from?" "Utah." "How many wives ya got?" No attempt at humor and no malice. Just cold, hard, redneck ignorance. I went to a Ruby Tuesday's by myself for dinner the night I got into town and I was asked for a smoking preference. "A what?" "Would you like to sit where you can smoke or not?" These people can't be serious. Smoking sections died about the same time as, well, Liberace himself. I vaguely remember a local Village Inn that had a smoking section. The cigarette vending machine was right next to the brand new Pong arcade game.

Pink shirts aren't common in middle America.

My first appointment was with Omaha Public Schools and their director of child nutrition. A kindly looking gentleman, white haired and long in the tooth. We shook hands. The first words from his mouth were "Did your wife buy you that shirt for Christmas?" "No, believe it or not, I actually bought this shirt myself. On purpose." "Well, if you were wearing that shirt and a red tie you'd be totally gay." How classic is that? I've never met these people in my life, but the comfort level was such that he would A) assume that I WASN'T gay in the first place, and B) had a sense of humor. Despite all this, the meeting went quite well and ended with him demonstrating his Tai Chi moves he's been learning at the local Y. No tact. No prejudices. Just honest, corn-fed midwesterness.

So I own a pink shirt. And I look bloody good in it. It's a good color for an overweight Swede. It matches my skin pigmentation beautifully and makes my blue eyes pop pretty hard. Kind of like a swollen albino. But a confident one.

And now I wait for the opportune time to unveil the rainbow suspenders. Maybe I'll schedule a trip to Iowa.


Talbot Family said...

Oh my gosh, could I laugh any harder! I am still laughing and hoping and praying to see you in the lovely pink shirt. I think Eddie would be proud, in fact, I bet he has a whole closet filled with varying shades of pink shirts. Way to go my divinely led Swede of a stud brother. Shop on, ooh next time can I go with? I am sure I could do you Barry proud. I love pink!

Emcognito said...

I've seen the pink shirt first hand and I must say your blue eyes definitely pop!

Mandy said...

Pink shirts ROCK! I bought one for my brother in law and Jason was kinda jealous, so I went and bought one for him too. Pink is the new black!

Mandy said...

I bought it for Christmas, BTW, not just some random gift of a pink shirt. HA!

Paul Mayne said...

You're totally gay.