I've been known to follow my own piper when it comes to selection of casual wear. I like cowboy boots with soft uppers - which no self-respecting western shop carries. This has forced me into alternative shopping strategies: the catalog I purchase boots from is called "International Male". The catalog pretends mainstream legitimacy but its true clientele is extremely evident: in it, among a sea of young, muscular men models, there is a single token female, and in the whole: capes, ruffles, velvet, and pink silk predominate. I keep the catalog deep in my briefcase to minimize explanations to my co-workers. Unfortunately, I had it out on my desk the other day while ordering.
My brother, Marshall, came into my office. He spied the catalog and snatched it up before I could grab it. "What's this?" he asked.
"Nothing, I replied, innocently, grabbing for it.
He flipped open right to the most embarrassing part - the underwear section. "Whoa.. Oh! Oh! What do we have here?" Marshall exclaimed.
"Uh..." My tongue was tied up for a moment.
"These guys are built," Marshall commented appreciatively. "Look at the cheeks on that man!"
"Uh... Gimme that..." I pulled at the catalog.
Marshall held it away from me. "Wow. It must have been cold when they took these pictures," he continued. "And what's that I see peeking out there?"
I rushed around my desk, grabbed the catalog, threw it in my briefcase and locked the hinges.
Marshall stared at me for a moment then he said, "I've got a magazine for you - it's got all kinds of interesting stuff. My favorite is a little golf green you place in front of the john while you're crapping, then you putt the ball into the hole while holding your club."
"Get outta here," I said, menacingly, pushing him out the door.
"No, really, Marshall continued. Or instead of practicing golf - there's fishing: you put plastic fish in front of the toilet then grab your rod and jerk."
I slammed the door then ordered my boots in peace.
A week later they came. The kids gathered around while I opened the big box. It seemed kind of light for boots so I was anxious. We were all silent as we looked at what was inside.
"Dad, there's diamonds on your shoes," said 10-year old, Haven, my youngest son.
"Those aren't my shoes," I said.
"Those aren't diamonds, dear," Gwynne, my wife, explained to Haven. "Those are rhinestones."
"I'll bet the golden lion heads on the toes are fake too," Heath, my oldest son, butted in.
"Dad," cautioned my daughter, Heather. "I wouldn't wear your new shoes."
"Those aren't my shoes!" I grabbed up the box, taped it back closed.
I begged my wife, "Gwynne, send them back. I'm not going to be seen with these things!"
"They're in a box, dear. No one will see," Gwynne replied soothingly. "But, okay, I'll send them back for you."
I thought the episode was over until one day when I got home from work and Haven came running out to greet me. "Dad!" he exclaimed, excited. "Your diamond shoes are back!"
"Those aren't my shoes!"
Indeed, International Male had returned the shoes with a note reading, "these items are not merchandise of Younger Holding Company."
I gave the shoes to Marshall for Christmas.