In the Hood of Confusion

This is my raincoat.

It is brand new and yellow. I like it. But unfortunately, like several inanimate objects in my life, it appears to be smarter than me.

You see I bought this raincoat for many reasons. Some of them include
-It is yellow
-It is waterproof
-It has a stowable hood

And you might think to yourself, oh a stowable hood, what a great convenient idea that shouldn’t be difficult.

Well you know what? You should try it first before you start saying things with such an accusatory tone!

I was in the store, and I had already spent 15 minutes trying to figure out how to fold up the hood before I realized this wasn’t going to prevent me from purchasing the jacket. So I went up to the register to purchase it and I asked the kindly young woman ringing me up if she happened to know how to fold it up.

She did not.

She called her colleague over and asked him if he knew. He walked over slowly sucking air through his clenched teeth and said in halted speech:

That... is the big question.

Really? How to roll up a hood is the big question? What kind of society are these two living in that matters over hood stowage trump all others?

The guy went on to say that there was apparently only one person in the tri-state area that knew how to roll up the hood and he worked at the store in Garden City.

I responded by saying ohhhhh.

But really what I was thinking was: Are you kidding me? We are talking about a hood. A HOOD! It is fabric and string and a piece of Velcro. Sure I can’t figure it out, but this is my first date with the jacket. You two have been seeing each other for weeks, maybe months! And there’s like 5 of you in this store!

You honestly can’t figure it out? What kind of jacket nincompoop are you?!

But seeing as I wasn’t able to figure it out right away, I can’t really be too upset. After all, I am regularly flummoxed by seemingly simple objects that do not work the way I would like them to.

Like the first time I tried to twist open a Corona bottle. It was until there was no flesh left in the palm of my right hand that I realized… Corona tops don’t twist off. What made this even worse was the fact that this was a Coronita - A baby corona.

It reminded me of something called the Math Olympiads we did as kids in elementary school. There were these math brainteasers. Five or six of them and you'd have an hour or two to work them out. And you'd work so hard to figure it out and end up realizing the answer was so much easier than you'd thought.

I don’t want to brag but when I graduated the sixth grade I had one of the highest scores for the Math Olympiads. Though I think it’s worth mentioning they never did ask us any questions about raincoats.

But my life is full of these little mini roadblocks. It’s kind like driving down an open road and then I see one tiny orange traffic cone in the middle. And I can for the life of me figure out what to do, so I make a u-turn and go back the way I came.

Or getting a piece of furniture you need to assemble by yourself. And so you open the whole package and all the tools and parts and after hours of effort it is done. But then realize you have like 4 random extra pieces left when you finish. What the hell am I missing here?!

The same thing applies to cooking. I think oh man 4 ingredients, 3 steps, how hard can this be? And it isn't until I am halfway into cutting into a carrot that I realize I don't have the capacity or the wherewithal to julienne a carrot. And it seems easy enough to try but 2 blisters and 9 carrots later all I have is a pile of non Julienned carrot parts and a feeling of self loathing brought on my skinny orange vegetable that I no longer even want.

But none of those others things bother me as much as this stupid hood. I start to question if it is even possible. Perhaps the idea was great but nobody tested the design. And it wasn’t until they had made the first 500 raincoats that they said....

Ohhh you know what? This doesn’t work.

Ahh screw it. Just put them on the rack and let the poor sons of bitches figure it out.

I can just see the designer now. Laughing himself into a tizzy at the great hilarious fraud he has pulled off or perpetrated at the expense of the non waterproofed populous.

But whether it is possible or not really doesn’t matter by the time I’ve asked for this explanation. Because now I have to watch this poor woman flop around in the same shallow poll of experimental stupidity that I just crawled out of while her coworker looks on knowing that he has nothing new to contribute.

I have exposed a weakness within this coat: it’s intelligence. A tragic flaw. These salespeople are incompetent. Much as I am. All I have learned is that I am now qualified to work at Eddie Bauer.

I get home and I try to Google the answer. Is this feat even possible.

No such luck. There are no answers to be found.

Alas it is weeks later now, and I remain a jacket nincompoop. But I still like it, ya know, because it’s yellow.

Julie of J. Crew

I operate under the assumption that every customer service representative everywhere in the world, hates their job. I think it’s a pretty fair assumption. I mean if you think about it, you never call customer service to be like


No, you call because the item in question is a piece of shit, doesn’t work, is broken, costs too much, didn’t do what it was supposed to, or gave you a splinter. So the people who work in customer service must anticipate nobody wants to say nice things to them… ever.

Hi thanks for calling customer service. What’s that you say? Oh you have a problem? Wow, I’m shocked, please, proceed to yell at me for the next 20 minutes.

In fact everybody in America is so fed up with dealing with everybody else in America that there is literally nobody left in America to be mad at you. We had to outsource that to another country that isn’t yet fed up with us calling to be pissed off.

Most of the times those calls are really confusing and don’t accomplish much since yelling at someone 5,000 miles away is probably not going to get you to speak with their manager.

But recently when I have issues (which, who are we kidding, I have issues daily) I have been redirected to the online chat feature. I don’t mind this so much. Most of the time it is some robot sending you a link. But sometimes, you get a human. And when I do get a human, oh man, I become about as ridiculous as humanly possible.

Like when I had questions for J.Crew recently. It was extremely late at night so I was a bit loopy, but as you will see, the woman on the other end of the chat was fantastic. Naturally I saved it.

Richard: Hi Julie how is your evening going?
Julie: Hello...fine
Richard: lol that doesn't sound too wonderful
Julie: Sorry, I am doing well.
Richard: You don't have to lie on my account, we all have those days no worries.
Richard: Tell me Julie, how is your knowledge about shirts?
Julie: Thanks for waiting--will be with you in just a moment.  
Richard: Oh no worries at all. I'm sure there's not many people around to answer questions at this hour.
Julie: I'm sorry for the delay--will be right with you.  
Richard: Please, please, take your time. Like I said, they are just shirts. They are not going anywhere. Well, I mean, hopefully for your business sake they do get sold ya know?
Julie: Thanks for your patience.
Julie: Are we speaking of men's dress shirts?
Richard: Indeed we are Julie!
Julie: I do have some knowledge and I also have exact measurements for each garment we sell, except for shoes, that is.
Richard: Well quite the good thing I am not in the market for shoes tonight, at least not shoes from J Crew
Richard: I am curious about shirts that are slimmer than your classic fit.
Julie: I'll be right with you.
Richard: Oh absolutely Julie, like I said, this isn't a shirt emergency.
Richard: I have very few of those.
Julie: You would then be looking for those listed as 'Regular Fit' which is a more tailored fit.
Julie: By the way, my software sends those messages automatically. I hope they aren't annoying you.
Richard: Lol no not at all.
Richard: I find them quite entertaining, I'm actually surprised you are a human.
Julie: 100% human guaranteed.
Richard: I bought furniture from a site that was all automated responses. It was like talking to Rain Man.
Julie: :)
Julie: We also sell a Men's Slim.
Richard: Now about these regular fit shirts, do you know what the actual different in inches is from the classic fitting shirts?
Richard: Ah yes, my question also applies to those slim fit shirts.
Julie: If you'll bear with me for just a minute, I will give you some details. OK?
Richard: I will bear with you Julie.
Richard: I place my complete shirt trust in you, Julie of J. Crew.
Julie: What size would you normally wear? S,M,L,?
Richard: I usually fit into a medium comfortably
Julie: Great...just a few moments.
Richard: Fantastic
Richard: I imagine you have quite the shirt handbook over... well... wherever you are.
Julie: I'll be right with you.
Julie: Ok...I have some numbers.
Richard: Fire at will.
Julie: For the Regular fit medium the chest circumference is 45", waist 42.5", sleeve length-shoulder seam to cuff-25.875" and neck 16.25.
Julie: For the SlimFit medium chest is 43.5", waist is 41", sleeve is 26" and neck is 16.25".
Julie: So, I guess it's 1 1/2 inches slimmer.
Richard: and what is the classic fit, if you have that number?
Julie: Ok...another minute please
Richard: Quite the wild goose chase if you will.
Julie: I'm sorry for the delay--will be right with you.  
Julie: Ok...classic fit medium is chest 47", waist 44.5", sleeve 25.5" and neck is the same 16.25".
Richard: So I guess no matter how skinny you are we all have the same size neck huh?
Julie: Looks that way...sorry.
Richard: Oh no worries, you didn't make the shirt...necks.
Julie: Does that help you determine which one you need?
Richard: It certainly does Julie. I can't thank you enough for your diligence and your commitment to problem solving.
Julie: It's my pleasure, especially for such a nice gentleman.
Julie: Is there anything else I can help with?
Richard: If I knew how to do some sort of virtual bow, I would.
Richard: No, alas I believe our time here has come to a close.
Richard: Unless there is some question you have that I can answer.
Richard: I can't imagine what that would be though.
Julie: Well, thanks for taking the time to chat with me and for shopping with J.Crew. Anytime you need help, just ask.
Richard: Brilliant. Enjoy your evening, I hope it continues well past more than just... well.
Julie: Thanks for waiting--will be with you in just a moment.  
Richard: lol naturally.

Quite a pleasant exchange we had. My only regret is that I didn’t get her phone number or email. I could use a new friend. Especially one who knows about shirts.


The Sky: Home of fluffy white clouds, sunshine, and Superman.

But there is one thing that comes from the sky that I am not OK with. Something that happens millions of times a day all over the world, which you don’t think about it, until it affects you directly.

I speak of course, of pigeon poop.

I’m not sure if my mother actually believed this, or this was just something she made up to prevent us from crying, but she always used to say it was good luck.

I think the first time she said this was when my sister and I were really little and my sister got pooped on in the backyard. If you don’t know the feeling well, lucky you.

When you are a kid you don’t realize excrement can fall out of the sky. Rain, acorns, things like that yes. But poop? What precedent is there that a poop bomb is even a possibility?

I have been lucky enough to travel to different countries around the world and the one consistent thing that I come across in every single country is the effen pigeons. They are everywhere. I swear when the apocalypse comes and giant aliens eat all of the people on the planet, all that will be left are pigeons and cucarachas.

I can see those frigging cucarachas now, riding their pigeon planes through the sky.

Cucaracha: Dive Sebastian, dive! The skies and land are ours!
Pigeon: Victory is ours Benjamin!

Gross. I hate them all.

Pigeons hit their high note in terms of coolness the first time I was in Venice when I was in high school. This was back before the city of Venice changed the laws, and vendors were still allowed to sell bird food in the Piazza San Marco.

Tourists from all over the world would pay old men with bags full of bird food. And then you would dump it in your hands while pigeons molested you so your friends could take pictures of you looking like Lord of the Birds.

To be honest when I did it, I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Even when that pigeon landed on my head and grabbed a…. um, claw, full of my hair.

Have you ever looked at a pigeon’s foot before? They are awful. They are so often mangled and dirty and tied up with dental floss and other trash they can’t get rid of because they don’t have hands.

Because they are pigeons.

Upon my return to Italy in college, that delight at the hilarity of pigeons quickly disappeared as being exposed to 40 million of them every day, every place, as they try to land on your pizza, and steal your gelato, quickly gets old.

As much as I hated them I tried not to piss them off. They outnumbered me. My roommates in Italy didn’t feel the same way. One of them, lets call him Rob, had what I can only describe as a karmic experience with pigeons.

We were visiting Sienna for a day trip, checking it out and exploring the sites when we had sat down outside a church to rest for a bit. It was there that Rob began an interesting interaction with a pigeon.

Rob: I really want to catch a pigeon.

10 Minutes later

Rob spits on a pigeon

20 Minutes later

Rob: Oh man I just got shit on by a pigeon.

It seemed like poetic justice to me, something that Rob deserved. The story I am about to relate to you though, has no justification in it whatsoever.

It was in June of this year, several weeks after I had started my new job. The weather for the summer hadn’t yet turned to unbearable. I was excited to be heading in to a job that I loved. I emerged from the E train out into midtown.

The sun was shining, the air was crisp, I was in the best possible mood. I took a look up at the sky and said aloud:

What a beautiful day!

And then I took about 10 steps before somebody threw an entire cup of soup on me.

At least, that’s what it felt like. I looked down on my arm and saw that was in fact PEA soup. Gross. Green pea soup all over my shirt, which thank god was a long sleeved one I had rolled down.

I looked up in shock. Who had thrown this soup on me?  Surely somebody had seen the culprit. But nobody seemed to care. How could nobody have seen the… oh I get it.

It quickly dawned on me that it must have been a pigeon, a pigeon that had eaten a bean burrito for dinner.

Great, my arm now covered in bird shit I couldn’t tolerate it, I had to find a fix and quick. Lucky for me, midtown is chockablock with bodegas trying to sell tourists t-shirts that New Yorkers wouldn’t be caught dead wearing, unless of course, that New Yorker had been shit on to start his day.

So I bought the only shirt that seemed appropriate after being pooped on coming out of the subway.

I then walked into an alley and took my shirt off because I couldn’t have the poop sleeve touching my skin anymore, I was starting to go mental. I put on my new t-shirt and then walked directly into a Dry Cleaners and told the nice lady at the counter my story as she began to touch my shirt. (This brought me an instant flashback to an early blog.)

I was pooped on.

“What?” she said.

A bird pooped on me, just now, outside.

Needless to say she slowed the pace at which she was folding up my shirt. She asked me to spell my name about 7 times before giving me a receipt for my shirt and telling me I could pick it up in a week.

Well, we are going on 3 months now and I still haven’t picked my shirt up. Maybe it is because I am so grossed out by that shirt that I can’t wear it in good conscience any more.

Or it could just be that the shirt isn’t actually mine.

I don’t know who that Rich Poehncke is, but I wouldn’t want his shirt. I hear there’s poop on it.

Miami Bound Machine - Part 1

I mentioned recently that my Cold-EEZE video won the contest it was in. And my prize for that was a mystery vacation. The details of my vaycay were recently revealed to me. I will be going on an all expenses paid trip to MIAMI!


The itinerary for the trip was posted on the website.

It is going to be epic. I am beyond excited. I knew it was going to be someplace warm and awesome and Miami is both of those things.

But then I started thinking.

This is Miami. This is where, at least according to Will Smith, there is a party in the city and the heat is on.

Miami is like the Las Vegas of the East Coast without all the hookers and the gambling (I’m guessing).  Nobody ever comes back from Miami with a story like

“Yea it was OK, I mean, it was kind of quiet, real low key, we just kind of hung around and ate chips.”

No, every time I talk to anybody who has come back from Miami it’s always like:

“Oh my god the beaches were so hot and everyone looked amazing and buff and then we went to the craziest club at night, and danced in an upside down anti gravity chamber of awesome. And then we drank champagne out of David Caruso’s wallet!”

Miami is the city of players, and playas, and la playa, and probably papaya. This is a city of bespoke linen suits, and bottle service, and the sexiest humans on the planet.

Well, in 3 weeks it will be home to the sexiest humans on the planet and this guy;

This just will not do. I can’t roll up to Miami looking all hokey and foolish... ya know, like myself. There will be about 100 very cool people getting on this plane to go down there for this party. And I just keep having visions of myself walking onto the plane and hearing:


As a tiny empty vodka bottle and a honey roasted peanut hit me in the side of the face.

No, I have to get my act together. The way I see it there are 3 parts of my life I need to get in order before I make my way down on a plane full of trendy, sexy, party animals. And the first part of it is my wardrobe.

Even though I think I look OK when I go out in New York, it is always different when you go to another city. Like last year when I shot down to D.C. for the 4th of July and my friends and I went out at night. I thought I would look good in my New York staple black. Imagine my surprise when I showed up at a bar full of people who looked like they were on an Easter egg hunt.

I realize now that certain cities require certain style.

Now I have had some interesting outfit choices over the course of my life. In fact it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I actually started understanding how to buy and wear clothes.

Up until then it was a lot of hit and miss with many more misses than hits.

Like back in 8th grade when I so badly wanted to dress cool and look like the other cool people. At this time there was a popular accessory in my school. It was a belt made out of a seat belt.

I didn’t have such an accessory, and I really wanted one. And this feeling hit me about an hour before the 8th grade dance when I was visited by the pants muse. And suddenly I fancied myself a designer, a pant closure genius if you will.

So I tried to invent my own belt. I went into my father’s closet and got out one of his old leather belts and cut off the metal clasp. Then I poked a hole in both ends. And then I took, get ready for this, a combination lock, and hooked it through the hole on one end, and then the other and then I CLOSED THE LOCK.

I walked over and took a look in the mirror. Sweet! I looked awesome. This would totally make other people think I was cool.

Have you seen Rich’s awesome combination lock belt?
Man, Rich has the coolest belt ever!
It’s a belt, it’s a lock, it’s both!

Satisfied with my invention I went to open it and realized a crucial fault in my design. It was still a combination lock. And now I had to put in the combination, on an upside down lock, which was secured tightly to my pelvis.

And that’s when I started to panic. I was having trouble opening it and starting to sweat. And then I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I was like a crappy Houdini. Except I didn’t have any magical abilities and I wasn’t trying to do a magic trick, I just had to pee!

Since then I have avoided the trends. I have stuck with basics, things that worked, and things that did not require the training and expertise of a locksmith. I imagine most people would say I have a pretty clear style, nothing too crazy or outlandish.

But this is Miami! This is the place where ya know… stuff happens.

(I would be more specific here but I have never been to Miami and therefore have no idea what actually goes on)

I want to make a statement so that when we all go out to the clurb to get our drink on and dance on, people will say, hey who is THAT guy?! And not just because I managed to get Pina Colada in my hair, but because I look good!

This thought process led me to an investment reserved for a certain class of people, those either playing shuffleboard in Boca Raton or those people named Ricky Martin. This led me to an investment I never thought I’d make.

I bought white pants.

Now the actual ramifications of this decision remain to be seen. I am not sure when or where I will display these pants. But they are coming with me. I am going to rock them. I am going to show the world my confidence… or lack thereof.

But most importantly, when the time comes to go to the bathroom… I will be able to do so.

To Be Continued…

Cold Hard Facts

I don’t want you to think that I hate winter. I really don’t. But February is about the point in the year in New York when dramatic frustration starts to set in. Here is why.

The cold is getting annoying.

I know I don’t live in some frigid place like Chicago, or Canada. You guys have it way worse. I get that. But it’s all relative, and as far as New York goes, the last 2 weeks in this city have been frigging freezing.

All this super bowl coverage of Miami isn’t helping either. I wake up and watch a special report from the pretty people pool at the Fufu Shishi hotel with all these tanned and glistening bodies in the sun.

 And then I go outside and the cold hits me in the face like a frozen punch of awful.

It’s been so cold in New York lately people won’t even walk down the streets. They are outside mind you, but they aren’t walking. They are running. But not just running, they are running down the streets screaming curse words at the top of their lungs.

Specifically the F word. That one is extremely popular.

So I’ve started doing it too. I first tested it out in Chicago over New Year’s. And let me tell you, it really does help. In fact while you are doing it, it feels kind of cathartic. It is the only thing that makes sense when it gets this cold outside.

Before I go any further I would like to tell you about a scale I have invented to determine how cold it is outside. The next time you go outside start counting. The amount of seconds it takes you to curse is equal to how awful it is outside.

If it takes 10 seconds it is pretty bad outside. If it only takes 4 seconds, it is really bad.

I went to a play last week with some friends and we had a dinner reservation at a restaurant about 5 blocks away.

Well I couldn’t even count how cold it was outside because before I even left the theater I was swearing up a storm. It was so $#&@%’n cold I thought about just lying down in the street and calling it quits because I didn’t think I could make it.

But I didn’t call it quits. I started sprinting and shouting. And in my sprint I passed other people doing the same. We were like a bunch of screaming fireworks passing each other the middle of the street.

But it’s not just the weather itself. Cold all the time always, ok, it’s awful. But it is the putting on of hats, gloves, dickeys, etc. that I find so exhausting.

Here is what you need before you leave the house in the summer.

Step 1. Get dressed.
Step 2. Leave the house.

I remember finding out that I had gotten a scholarship to Arizona State University. Tempe is known as the Valley of the Sun and temperatures regularly reach 115 in the summer and winters are extremely pleasant. I remember telling all of my friends that I was getting rid of all my pants. Arizona State University was going to pay me to not wear pants.


A couple winter weeks at home during break was easy. Plus it was Christmas, it was New Years, there were friends to catch up with. And just when the cold started to get annoying you were headed back to school for one of the 330 days of sunshine that Arizona provided every year.

But I am going on my 5th winter living in New York and it sucks. I mean waiting outside on the train platform is enough to make you go crazy. Now I understand why people carry flasks.

Here is what you need before you leave the house in the winter.

Step 1. Get dressed
Step 2. Select coat from your winter assortment.
Step 3. Put on scarf. Tie yourself some sort of Boy scout/sailor knot hybrid
Step 4. Button, zip, and cinch your coat
Step 5. Put on gloves
Step 6. Put on hat

Then you hustle outside, and get in a car or a train where you stay bundled until you get too warm so you take some of your accoutrements off. But then you arrive at your destination so you have to put them on again. So you rebundle and make your way to work where once inside, you unbundle.

I am not even including all the other ridiculous things you need to do like put on skin moisturizer, and lip balm, and special hand crème that smells like something used to lubricate jet engines because your cuticles are shot and its so frigging dry out you’ve got dandruff and your back hurts because you’re a decrepit 26 year old who tried to squat press his friends when he was 15…

Ahem. I digress.

So by 9 am you’ve gotten dressed and undressed like 4 times already.

God forbid you have to go out for lunch, or you need to run an errand. Any trip outside means bundling and unbundling again. And unless you plan on spending the night at work you have at least 1, possibly 2 bundle/unbundlings ahead of you.

By the time you get to the end of your day you’ve bundled and unbundled 12 times. And for what? Just so you don’t die? I’m honestly not sure it’s worth it. I mean that’s like 60 times a week for at least 3 months. That’s over 700 times a season. No wonder everyone is so frigging tired in the winter. I’m surprised more people don’t end up in the doctor’s office because they pulled their “coat muscle.”

And god forbid you have to wear those modern earn muffs they call 180s that wrap around the back of your head. Now admittedly they work, so I own a pair. But so do half the people on the street. They are an awesome invention. But something must be wrong when half the city is walking around looking like they got their head stuck in a clamp.

If I wasn’t so damn pale I would just move to one of those islands in the Caribbean where guys walk around in a bathing suit and no shirt and make a living unloading the shrimp boat.

Granted I’d probably get melanoma after about 40 minutes. So yea that’s out.

I guess I’ll just stay here. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go finish tying my scarf

Sample Crazy

People be crazy. I think we've already established that but it bears repeating. A great place to see people's ridiculous behavior is in an elevator, any elevator. And if you take that ridiculous behavior and pair it with a sense of unnecessary urgency well, ridiculosity ensues.

Being the thrifty, savvy shopper that I am, I sometimes shop at sample sales.

Sample sales are basically a chance for manufacturers to make some money on the items they use as samples when developing their line. The samples are usually available in only one or two sizes and manufacturers sell them at a discounted price rather than just chucking them.

Attending sample sales in Manhattan can be a bit of a contact sport because as I've mentioned, people be crazy.

Hundreds of people cram into a tiny room whose original purpose was not shopping. They rifle through stacks and racks, picking up, evaluating, and dropping, looking for that 80 percent off diamond in the rough.

It is especially intense on the first day.

I went to a sample sale a couple of months ago during my lunch break. I realized this might have been a bad idea as I was 1 block out of my office when I caught my pants on some construction scaffolding and tore an industrial size hole in the side of them.

But I continued on, because now I had to buy pants.

The first day of this particular sample sale started at noon. It was in the corporate offices of the brand. I arrived in the lobby of the building and was told to head up to the 12th floor. I walked over to the elevator, pressed the button, and waited.

Almost immediately I was joined by a frantic woman who looked as if she were late for something very important. Like she was the owner of a winning lotto ticket and she had only 2 more minutes to cash it in. Surely she had actual important business to attend to. Surely she was not on her way to the sample sale.

As I stood there, she jabbed the up button. Repeatedly. She would step back to see if either of the elevators had opened up before stepping forward to continue jabbing the button.

She turned to me and with obvious frustration and asked;

Are they working?!

How the heck should I know? I was not, at that time, wearing a monochromatic jumpsuit that had "Rich's Elevator Repair" embroidered across the chest. And based on my button down shirt and ripped chinos, I can't imagine I appeared to be anything other than a corporate stiff with a hole in my pants waiting for a functioning elevator.

But presuming that I am a semi-competent human being, why on earth would I be standing waiting for an elevator that wasn't coming?

Are they working?

No ma'am but I sure am an optimist.

I mean what was I supposed to say to this lunatic? According to her "logic" if I waited for broken elevators I was probably also the type to try and board cancelled flights and make calls on a dead cell phone.

Trying not to be judgemental (seriously I tried) I figured she was probably late for an important doctor appointment that she had hustled across town for. It was a feeling I could relate to so I tried to put myself in her shoes.

Thankfully the elevator arrived and she flew into it as I gingerly followed. I was going to push the button for floor 12 but stopped when she pushed it before me.

Hmph. I guess her appointment is on the same floor as this sample sale. Because honestly, who would get that worked up over poplin casual shirts and merino sweaters. Surely not this woman. Surely she was not going to the sample sale.

When I got in she looked to be about seconds from a breakdown. She was practically shaking. The elevator doors closed and we started moving but stopped on floor 4. The doors open but nobody came on. So instantly she jabbed the door close button and proceeded to hold it until the doors closed all the way.

I halfway thought she might take her thumb off of it once the doors did close, but no, she did not.

She kept her thumb on the door close button for the rest of the trip up to the 12th floor... as though this would really make a difference.

If she had taken the time to turn and look at me she would have realized I was starting at her with my mouth wide open. I couldn't look away. She was ridiculous. A frantic woman completely devoid of logic who was late for what? A child birth?

She kept her thumb on the button as though removing it would cause the doors to fly open and her to be vomited from the elevator out into the bowels of cold black space. Like keeping her finger on this button was keeping her entire life together, and removing her thumb would cause her appendages to explode off her body like some sort of children's action figure.

Crazy Elevator Lady - Now With Exploding Appendages!!!

I started to realize this woman was so ridiculous she might actually be on her way to the sample sale. Surely she was pressed for time and had to hurry in order to take advantage of this super advantageous scenario. But she couldn't really believe that holding that button would take us express up to the 12th floor.

Could she?

What if the doors had opened on another floor and someone had started to walk in, would she have closed the doors on them? Would she have even apologized? Would she have the common decency to at least shout;

"I'm sorry but there's cashmere up there!" as the doors amputated her sentence like a guillotine.

Nothing would stop her. I have no doubt she would have closed the doors on the pope, had he an interest in cold weather accessories and accidentally disembarked on the wrong floor.

We arrived on 12 and sure enough, the sample sale was the only thing there. She flew out of the elevator and into the sale, leaving me in her dust. And I was left with but one thought:

I hope I get to the pants before she does.

The Bavarian Buff

Like many New Yorkers, I get a fair amount of my random knowledge and news blurbs from small televisions in the elevators in my building. They flash a series of headlines, stock quotes, and other current event updates throughout the day. I am in the elevator about a half dozen times over the course of the day and I will catch 1 or 2 stories each time that I am in there.

While leaving work one day last week I was preoccupied with something but glanced up for a second to catch this headline.

German Nudist Hiking Trail

Whatever I was thinking about before, was quickly forgotten as my mind tried to wrap itself around the ridiculousness of this news story. I did a little more research to find out the details. This is what I found:

Germany is launching a new hiking trail for tourists who like to walk in the nude. The 18km (11-mile) route runs through the Harz mountains in central Germany, between Dankerode and the Wippertalsperre, near Leipzig and is receiving praise for giving nudists an opportunity to express themselves more freely.

Now, I am not a hiker. In fact, I know very little about hiking. But I am of German lineage. And I would now like to take this time to make fun of my people. For the sake of this post, I will be taking the side opposing the German Nudist Hiking Trail.

I will start with the obvious. Hiking usually involves being out in the wilderness with bugs and critters and other things. There are places on your body you should never NEED to put sunscreen, never mind bug spray. These are the parts of my body I do not want to expose to mosquitoes or poison ivy. And ALL of those parts get exposed during nude hiking.

I mean, can you imagine trying to explain that to your dermatologist?

Oh yea, I was hiking in Germany. What's that you say? No, no I was not wearing pants. What? No, no underwear either.

I would also like to point out that from what i do know about hiking, it is not something you should do barefoot. Good socks and hiking boots seem to be necessary equipment. So if you are wearing shoes and sock you are not technically naked. I know I'm splitting hairs here, but I just want to point that out.

Being German I know that when I am outside I should stay as covered up as humanly possible. There are many kinds of sunscreen available but the only kind appropriate for me is SPF Poncho.

Germans take good things to the height of ridiculousness. I mean... just look what they did to dancing.

Some things are good in extremes. Giant beer? Good. Giant bratwurst? Very good. But this latest spin on hiking just doesn't seem to be an improvement at all.

Also shouldn't the possibility of chafing along turn them off the naked hike? And again, does backpack = naked?

I just don't think it's necessary for a nude trail. I mean, even the animals on this trail aren't naked. They at least wear fur!

What also scares me is Germans affinity for travel. in my travels around the world I have noticed they travel more than almost any other country. This naked hiking thing is something that could possibly spread to other trails in other countries!

What if I DO decide to take up hiking? I don't want to have to worry about being accosted by Frau Hatenmypantz. But in fairness to the trail itself, the proper authorities (be they naked or otherwise) have put up a sign warning people that says;

If you don't want to see people with nothing on them, you should refrain from moving on.

But if I saw that sign, I would probably just think it was a joke. I wouldn't honestly believe there was a chance I would see some naked people!

It is also understood that some kinds of naked are hilarious. Like watching somebody streak across a baseball field from hundreds of feet away. That is hilarious.

Watching somebody streak towards you in the middle of the woods? That is terrifying.

As I understand it, undergarments were made to enable us to move quickly with ease, thereby streamlining the transportation of ourselves. So what happens if a bear made his appearance in the woods and you had to run? I can't imagine running naked feels (or looks) good.

Also I am curious as to when it is that these naked hikers remove their clothes. Is it before they even leave the house? Do they gear up that way? or do they arrive at the trail head and somebody just fires a gun and yells STRIP!

Is the park ranger for this particular trail naked? Shouldn't he or she be? Because if they park ranger isn't naked, I can only imagine the kind of perverts you'd get applying for that job.

And also can clothed folks be on the same trail? If you have committed to an 11 mile naked hike you have probably also committed yourself to not taking any sit down breaks. I know I am not crazy about putting my bare butt on public toilet seats, so, putting my bare butt on the world of nature? I mean jeez.

Plus I don't like animals seeing me naked. I think they judge me. A cat saw me naked once and I might be exaggerating here, but I am pretty sure it was judging me. It cocked its head as if to say; "You disgust me pale boy. Cloak yourself."

And then the cat walked into a closet and tried to dig a hole.

My point is this whole naked trail thing can only be a harbinger of bad things to come. I know this might seem like a momentous occasion to some. And there is a probably a swell of enthusiasm for would-be nude hikers around the globe.

So for all you who are exited about what this trail means, and the opportunities it presents, I will say to you what my parents said to me when I got too excited about things as a kid.

Keep your pants on.

Rich Boehmcke Might Be...

I’ve been questioning my identity as of late. Not so much about what I am doing with my life, but more so who I am. And it isn’t based on my personal insecurities. The factors are more external.

I subscribe to a lot of magazines. Some of these include GQ, Esquire, and Details. These are the kind of monthly publications that define masculinity.
Yay I'm a man. And because those magazines are published by large media conglomerates that publish other magazines, I sometimes get solicited to purchase subscriptions to those other magazines.

Usually I get solicited for other magazines in the same genre.

No big deal.

But then I got a letter from Out Magazine.

Out magazine, for those of you who do not know, and are incapable of deducing, is a gay men’s lifestyle magazine.

I have never read the magazine before. It could be good or it could be bad, I really have no idea. The existence of the magazine has no effect on my life. I really don’t care.
But I myself am not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), so why are they soliciting me?

I think 1 of 2 things happened. Either I was accidentally solicited for the magazine, or somebody took a look at the magazines I subscribe to and said, “Hrmmm, ya know… Rich Boehmcke might be gay.”

I kind of laughed it off. It was a funny story for around the water cooler or to tell my friends. I even held onto the envelope for a while so I could remember to laugh about it and tell other people.

I forgot about it. Life went on as usual. All was well and good.
That is, until I received a second solicitation from Out magazine.
It was like after they sent me the first one, they seemed concerned that I had not responded. And they said, “Really Rich? Are you sure you’re not gay?”

I had to sit and ponder. Were they really questioning my sexuality or was somebody there just screwing with me? I turned down my KD Lang CD so I could think about it for a while.

I am a gmail user. I love gmail. One of the more unique features of gmail is the smart ads that appear in a bar at the top of the page. These ads are customizable. But for the most part they solicit you with advertisements from large corporations based on the subjects or content of your emails.

Lets say you are doing a lot of emailing about apartments, you might see an add at the top of the page for “SCOTTSDALE APARTMENTS STARTING 149K.”

That makes sense. Once in a while I’ll click on the ads. I don’t always pay attention to them though. But recently one caught my eye. - Read The Reviews On Dual Action Cleanse Before…

My eyebrow raised and I did a double take. I wasn’t really sure what to think. I stared at the advertisement for a moment. I then scanned the 30 or so emails in my inbox to see if I could uncover the reason for the solicitation.

Had someone sent me a poop joke? Did I tell someone I was having a crappy week? Had I mentioned I use a #2 pencil?

No. Nothing. I had no emails of the sort in my inbox. I was left to believe that based on my emailing and internet searching tendencies, somebody at Google was left to think, “Hrmmm, ya know… Rich Boehmcke might be constipated.”

But my relief turned quickly to confusion. What kind of entity found it necessary to put information about colon cleansing into diary form?

Was this somehow more comforting for some people? I can imagine the conversations.

Wife: Hunny come read this.
Husband: Ew I don’t want to read about Colon Cleansing.
Wife: Oh sweetie, you know you’re backed up.
Husband: That’s true.
Wife: And besides, it’s written in diary form. It’s private and discreet and honest.
Husband: Oh alright, if it’s in diary form.

No way dude. Noooo way. I am not clicking on that link.

And then I got piece of spam (it was spam right? Right?) with an offer for a FREE COLON CLEANSE.


I understand that internet spam hooks some people. Trial Viagra, free laptops, and fifty seven million dollars from an African prince seem like great offers.

But why would anyone, based on an email, that came to them out of nowhere, go somewhere and let someone do… THAT to them. I would love to see the response rate for that email. I’m sure the number would shock me.

I also have an email I use just for junk. You know, the kind of email you use for signing up for contests, joining online newsletters, or subscribing to mailing lists for weekly coupon updates.

There was one department store I like that I figured was worth signing up for the coupons. They have great sales and I figured it would be good to get regular coupon updates from them. So I put in my information and I immediately started getting weekly emails.

They were all well and good until I got one with a particularly disturbing headline.


For those unfamiliar (this blog is so informational) Spanx makes "body shaping" undergarments designed to give the wearer a slim and shapely appearance. Many famous people wear them. People like Oprah.

Again I was confused. Hadn’t I checked off my preferences for the email? Coupons for men’s items only! Even if they were soliciting me to buy this as a gift for someone, has any man ever bought a woman control top panty hose? Ever?

But once again I was left with only one possible solution. Based on my shopping and searching, somebody at this department store was probably saying to themselves…“Hrmmm, ya know… Rich Boehmcke might need some body shaping undergarments.”

It has taken me some months now to become comfortable with the fact that I am NOT a constipated homosexual with weight issues.

That is until I check my email again. The sad thing is, I don't even know what I get to be insecure about next.

The Price of Being Ripped Off

How much does stuff cost any more?

I understand that things like inflation and the global economy can raise prices, but things have gotten a little bit out of control. I suppose its supply and demand, but in my opinion I think it is more laziness and convenience.

I was recently ripped off by two different vendors in two completely different stores. I did nothing about it in either case. (That's kind of my thing)

My first rip-off happened this week. I needed to buy a stamp to mail a letter. One stamp, that’s it. The post office is only 2 blocks away from my office but I didn't feel like leaving work in the middle of the morning just to mail one letter. So I just went downstairs to the convenience store in my building's lobby and got a stamp.

To be clear I would like to point out that at this point in our economy regular first class stamps cost 42 cents. That is across the country. The price will be going up soon but the price, for now, is 42 cents.

So I go up to the counter and ask for a stamp. The man hands it to me and says "50 cents."

Fifty cents? FIFTY CENTS? YOU SONOFABITCH! You are marking up the price of a stamp? OF A STAMP!

Isn't that illegal? It was price gouging! It wasn't like there was some sort of stamp shortage.


And it wasn't just markup, it was 20 percent markup. Do you know what that means? That means if I wanted to buy a book of stamps at $8.40 this sonofabitch would have charged me an extra $1.68.

Where is the law? Where is common decency? Where is the morality of business that the Greeks, Romans, and aristocrats have venerated for centuries and centuries?

Gone I guess.

I should have stormed out of there. I should have made a fuss. I should have thrown up my arms and in my rage thrown packages of gum (spearmint trident of course) from his buffet-like display at his knobby little head.

But I didn’t.

Instead I paid the 50 cents rather than walk 5 minutes to the post office to wait on a line for 10 minutes to pay 42 cents for a stamp to put on my maintenance check so I could mail it in a week late.

Laziness 1 – Richard 0

I also had 2 watch batteries replaced recently. One in a dressy watch with a leather band, and one in a sport watch with a rubber band.

I went to the jewelry store on the corner which does have a certain sketch factor to it. The man behind the counter has a booming scratchy voice and an accent that could be from anywhere east of Germany. And, while friendly, he also appears to be completely out of his mind.

When I brought in the leather watch the crazy man asked to see it before he told me how much it would cost. I should have known I was about to be ripped off.

I showed him and he said, "Ooo nice watch." What he was actually saying was, "You probably have a roll of hundreds stuffed in your underwear right now." He then told me the price while shrugging his shoulders as though telling me it didn't matter that I'd lost his cat.

"Ehh… 15 dollars."
I was skeptical, but also lazy. So I just accepted his price and left it with him.

Laziness 2 – Richard 0

And because I am too lazy to find a new watch repair shop I went back to this guy with my other dead watch. When I came back with my rubber and considerably cheaper watch, I handed it to him and asked him how much it would cost. He responds by asking me if it is waterproof. I hesitate fearing what kind of scam my answer will get me into, but I tell him yes. He says, “Ok… 20 dollars.”

20 Dollars? Last time it was 15!
Oh I have to water test it.

Water test it? If by water test it you mean take the watch and run it under a faucet, I will water test it myself thank you. I’ll go wash a dish or something. I don't need to pay you an extra 5 bucks to make sure gravity and air pressure still exist in our universe.

And besides, if you "water test" it and it turns out you botched the job and it is no longer water proof…what then Bruneleschi? What's your plan of action there? Charge me another 5 bucks to tell me it wasn't waterproof?

So not wanting to pay more than 15 bucks I argue again.

But last time it was 15!
Did I water test it?

And now completely lying because I don't like this guy and his wandering right eye that points towards the moon, “Yes, yes you water tested it.”

He concedes and charges me only $15 for 15 minutes of work, which I am almost positive, is highway robbery to begin with.

By that standard, this guy gets paid a dollar a minute to put batteries in watches which by my calculation, if this guy works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, he is making $120,000 a year putting batteries in watches. And if he had charged me his “standard” price of $20 this lunatic would be making $160,000 a year.

Either way I am in the wrong line of work.

So I left, happy that I had only been mildly ripped off as opposed to my usual completely ripped off.

Laziness 3 – Richard 0

But the good news is, going forward at least I know what time it is when I get ripped off, whereas before I just had to guess.

Shopping Does This to Me

The Holidays are fast upon us which means soon, we will all be spending way more time in malls and major department stores than we prefer. There will be consumers everywhere. Oversized bags, strollers, and bell ringers will impede our movement throughout the malls of America. But it isn’t the other shoppers in the store that will cause the most stress.

There is a disease that affects millions of shoppers every year, and there is no cure. It is both annoying and frustrating. Have I mentioned there is no cure?

I’m talking about Commercial Retail Anxious Paranoia. People across the country and the world suffer from Commercial Retail Anxious Paranoia, or CRAP. Symptoms of CRAP include

-Frequently purchasing items you don’t need
-Yelling at store clerks
-Wandering aimlessly through the women’s intimates department looking for power tools

I really enjoy shopping. I don’t always have the money for it but I like looking at stuff I might one day own. A nice suit, a sweet laptop, or even a fancy watch are some things that might catch my eye. But when I walk into a store I am so fearful of being accosted by a sales rep or other employee that I go into CRAP Red Alert.

I know most sales people work on commission and they are hungry for that percentage. So when I walk in it is quite an uncomfortable scenario.
Employee: Hi welcome to…
And I run to the back of the store and hide in a sale rack.
Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that every salesperson in every store is a used car sleeze trying to sell me a 1976 Jalopy. It’s not like I have to leave there with a car, or they are going to try and rip me off on price. But I get so stressed about it that I freak the hell out.
I don’t want to hear what they have to say. I don’t want to know about the sales or special items. And I certainly don’t want to know their name. I am terrified that I am going to be duped, or confused. I struggle to balance my desire to be nice to the clerk, with my desire to get something I actually want. And the internal battle ends up making me look like a raving lunatic. CRAP does that to you.
On the off chance that there is something in the store I am going to purchase, when I get to the register and they ask me if anybody helped me I usually point to the person who tried to say hello to me because I feel so bad.
I think I feel pressured by the pushy sales people. I remember trying on these jeans once at some mall store. I told the woman my size and she brought me some different kinds. “This pair is slim fitting but their great.” Ok jean lady. Do you normally wear boys’ pants? We’ll see if their great.
So cut to the dressing room and she knocks on the door while I’m shoving my legs into these pant legs like a fat kid trying to get into a snowsuit. “How are you doing in there?” I look at the pair of pants that have become immobilized halfway up my thighs, “I can’t get my legs into them.”
“Well that’s normal their supposed fit tight.”
If I had been able to move my legs I would have run out of the dressing room and drop kicked her in the face.
I don’t even like going shopping with my friends. I like to go shopping by myself. I can’t be talked into anything that way. This is what is known as Amicable CRAP. Even though your friends mean well, they can cause CRAP to come out quite quickly. Shopping alone is easier. If I don’t love something, I put it back; if I can’t put it down I buy it. And I don’t have to worry about somebody else hating the thing I love, because I’m the only one there. I always agree with myself.
Even when I ask for feedback I don’t trust it.
There is one store that I go into, staffed by a lot of women in black clothes, where everything I try on looks good to them. I can’t not look good in something.
One woman even said to me, “Oh you’re the perfect size, you could be a model… ya know, for fit.”
Thank you for pointing out that I could not be a model on looks alone, because I HADN’T realized that already.
But everything I try on looks great. I could be wearing a sundress made of pink marshmallow peeps and they would say, “Oh yea absolutely, its so you.”
Shut up lady, you’re giving me CRAP.
CRAP does not only apply to the retail industry. Service industry folk are responsible. Like my nice Asian cleaners for example.
I recently brought 4 pairs of pants to my dry cleaner to have them hemmed. They were about 2 inches too long. A week, and 36 dollars later, they are all an inch too short. How did this happen?
Well to be perfectly honest my dry cleaner doesn’t speak the best English. And I was duped into thinking he was a skilled tailor by the sign in the window that said “Tailor.” Any other sign I would have doubted. If the sign had said “Plumber” or “Accountant” I might have been skeptical. But somehow in my head, since this man washed pants, he must also be able to sew them.
When was the last time you asked the guy at the car wash who wipes off your vehicle to take a look under the hood?
Everything looked normal when my “tailor” pinned the pants for the fitting, and then when I came back to try them on, he kept saying “It’s good, it’s good.” I didn’t really think so because it felt a little short, plus I’m standing in front of a shit mirror in a dry cleaner and I know he’s kind of rushed because there are other customers. So I say yes, pay and leave.
I didn’t realize it at the time but I was having a CRAP attack.
It’s not until I start wearing these pants to work that I notice I can feel the refreshing breeze on my ankles. A wonderful feeling if you are at a beach, or in a meadow, not when you are wearing a suit in an office.
My point is, as you rush out in droves to the retailers that haven’t yet gone out of business, and you realize the salespeople on the floor are even hungrier to make a sale; you are likely to have CRAP attack. But don’t worry. CRAP can be avoided. Just stay home and do all your shopping in your pajamas while surfing the internet. You don’t even need to shower to do this, and most importantly, you will never have CRAP again.

I Was a Teenage Halloweeny

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I frigging hate Halloween. I didn’t always hate Halloween. During my formative years as a pumpkin, bunch of grapes, hunch back of Notre Dame, and mummy, I truly enjoyed the day. The getting ready, the traipsing through the leaves in search of treats. And of course getting home to find the elusive Vanilla tootsie roll in the bottom of my candy bag.
But somewhere around high school I started to hate Halloween. It was a gradual process but the culmination might have something to do with the fact that I was egged walking home from school in 8th grade.
I remember the day vividly. I had already hit puberty (hooray) and was starting to feel older. Enjoying school and the teenager I was becoming, I was finally in control of my future. I was walking home wearing my Vancouver Grizzlies jacket and carrying my trumpet… ya know, the apex of cool.
So there I am, jauntily swinging my trumpet with a song in my head when several dooshy kids younger than me run up and throw eggs at me. One, two, three? Who knows how many chicken babies were wasted in such senseless violence?
They didn’t punch me, or steal my trumpet, or do anything else. They just stood there laughing at me. And I wasn’t really a tough kid…I’m still not. To this day the only man I’ve ever punched was a snowman. So when these kids threw eggs at me, I didn’t really have much retaliation. Seeing as I don’t regularly carry grocery items of my own with me, I couldn’t really do much at all.
However I was not alone. No sir. Thank god that old woman was walking behind me. The egging happened and I stood there in disbelief like I had just been slimed on Double Dare… even though I had NOT agreed to take the physical challenge. And the old lady behind me says something to the effect of, “Hey, that wasn’t nice, apologize!” Which I’m sure they probably did. Thank you old lady, we sure showed them.
If my memory serves me correctly, for the next 4 years I came right home from school and went immediately to bed. I didn’t want to have anything to do with Halloween. Just give me some candy corn and get out of my face.
My point is there was a distinct moment in my life when Halloween went from being cute fun to absolute nonsense and insanity. By time I got to college, with my Halloween chip firmly implanted on my shoulder the day had become mostly about getting drunk at a place where you could see girls dressed in slutty costumes. Naughty Cop? Excellent. Naughty Nurse? A classic. Naughty Nun? Quite the juxtaposition!
Other spectators who criticized were mostly women who exclaimed, “It’s just an excuse for girls to be slutty!” Good observation, I am glad we are both fans.
Granted at this point I had become predisposed to hate Halloween but even my attempts to love it had been met with defeat. Around senior year when I was coerced into putting together a last minute costume for a party, it was a let down. My friend and I spent a considerable amount of time setting my clothes on fire in the driveway so that I could be “Struck by Lightening.” And after some clever hairstyling and makeup I was ready to embrace the night again.
But struck by lightening is no bunch of grapes, and nobody understood my costume. They just kept asking why I had soot on my face and smelled like smoke. I would tell them. They would grimace and just walk away.

I should have been Naughty Struck by Lightening.
I am older now. And the pressure to do something on Halloween is not necessarily as great. Sure there are parties and functions of a classier variety. But a large part of the population still spends the night dressing slutty and getting drunk. And my fear of being egged remains.
So I was excited to be part of a group costume. My sister had slotted me for a role in her group of “Three’s Company,” the hit television show that mixed 1 part mischief with 1 part social norms for a result that always equaled hilarity.
I dressed up as the Landlord, or Mr. Furley. A character portrayed to perfection by the comedic genius Mr. Don Knotts.
And on this most ridiculous night it felt kind of normal to walk around Manhattan with white hair, a neckerchief, the ugliest shirt on the planet and pants in colors that can only be described as Enchantment Under the Sea Dance blues and greens.
It really was just an excuse for me to act like an idiot and say inappropriate things.
I mean, that is what I do normally…except on Halloween I got to do it in a neckerchief.
And you know what? If you are with good people, and you all look like idiots, it can be fun. Having drinks with a shorty-shortted John Ritter and a side-pony tailed Susanne Summers is a damn good time. And mugging for the camera in your famous television advertisement group pose is always a hoot.
Plus it was fun to see people out and about making huge fools out of themselves. Like the trio of gentlemen who I first thought were dressed as “morons.” As it turns out, they were just from Staten Island.
But it was entertaining to see a Yankee Baseball Player, a gentleman who was (and I’m not joking here) “Hung Like a Horse” and some other tool in a tank top hit on women.
Maybe there is some fun left in this day after all. Perhaps I will try to enjoy Halloween again next year. Honestly the most fun part of the holiday is the innovation and social commentary in some costumes, and the complete lack of creativity and healthy dose of embarrassment in others.
And as for those who insist on a costume such as our friend of the equine variety, well… maybe some people do deserve to be egged.

The Cleaners

Since I moved into my new apartment, I started going to a new dry cleaner. This particular cleaner has an Asian mother-daughter tandem. One woman rings you up, the other one touches and rolls up the dirty clothes.

She does this without putting on any sort of gloves or protective covering. This disturbs me. I mean, I could work at the hepatitis clinic and spend my day wiping syringes on my shirts and then bring those clothes straight to the cleaners. Just think of all the awful things that could be on your clothes.

Perhaps this is revealing too much about myself, but when I don’t have a napkin or towel nearby, I sometimes use my pants. Lord knows what else the rest of the population is wiping on their pants. Mustard…sweat…snot.

So on my last trip to the dry cleaners to pick up my pants and shirts, I received a surprise. After I gave the nice lady at the counter my receipt, her mother retrieved my clothes and came back with a little bag of a new prescription strength antiperspirant. She handed it to me and said “Do you get this yet?”

My brain immediately went into overdrive. What the hell was this woman saying? Was she honestly asking if I had ever used antiperspirant before? Was she condescending to me saying that my shirts stink?

Listen lady, I know I sweat a lot, but it’s not like it’s my choice. I don’t wear wool undergarments and run up and down stairs so I can walk around town with really cool sweat stains under my arms. Some of us are just warmer than others!

After I had that entire conversation in my head, I responded with a much calmer, “What?”
“Do you get this yet? Do we give this to you?”

It was a gift; they were giving me a free gift trial size of a new antiperspirant.

“Oh, no no, I didn’t get this yet,” I said smiling. I thanked her.

“One man come back, he like it so much he ask us if we have more.” And she burst into giggles. I giggled with her.

But now that I had gotten my heart rate all riled up, I probably could have used the new antiperspirant right then and there. It was “prescription strength” antiperspirant. Reading those words on the box made me confused.

Had doctors just stopped writing prescriptions for antiperspirant? Were the medical limits of antiperspirant recently changed? Shouldn’t this have been something that was in the news? The last time I checked when I needed something that was prescription strength I did not immediately go to the people who wash the fruit punch stains out of my pants.

Nonetheless I thanked the nice ladies, and accepted my free gift. After all it was a pretty cool free gift. And it made sense that the drycleaners were chosen as a dispersal point. As it turns out, I quite enjoy this new antiperspirant. It makes my arm pit smell like a bushel of flowers.

Not bad right?

But the scenario got me thinking. Maybe it is because the dry cleaner handles your most intimate articles of clothing that they feel they are entitled to have such insight into your life.

Think about it. They know your favorite colors, your favorite articles of clothing, where you sweat the most, and whether or not you are a raging slob. But what would happen if all the service industry people we interacted with on a daily basis gave us “recommendations” without us asking for them.

Imagine walking into a pharmacy to pick up your prescription, the pharmacist taking one look at you, and handing you a pack of condoms. What would you do? I’m not sure if I would be more upset that she thought I was a whore, or if she thought I were so ugly that she didn’t want me to reproduce.

Or better yet, imagine being at the supermarket. You put all your food on the conveyor belt, the nice lady scans everything, looks at your food, looks at you, and then reaches behind the counter and pulls out a box of diet pills to add to your cart.

What the hell? Knowing myself, I probably would have just laughed, but would you? I can just hear the outrage of people in my head. “HOW DARE YOU?” We love asking advice from other people, but unsolicited advice makes us go bat guano.

It is funny how much you can learn about somebody just by the things that they purchase. Maybe we should pay attention to some of those suggestions? Or maybe we shouldn’t. All I’m saying is I did, and now my armpits smell like tulips. Not bad right?