I felt my masculinity somewhat restored that first night, though, when I won enough in a bar poker game to cover my motel room.
Back home days later, I was eager to wear the new white jeans I had bought at Dillard’s, and did so to the July 4 parade and gathering at City Park afterwards. Imagine my hurt and dismay when nearly everyone I knew made fun of my new, tight-fitting jeans. I knew the fashion rule is: “Never wear white pants after Labor Day,” but had no clue white jeans went out altogether in the ’80s. I kept saying, “But I thought lots of guys still wear white pants,” and “Nope, just women,” came the consistent, smirking reply.
While in the big city, I again ate at Buffalo Wild Wings, but Megan, the object of last year’s Billings column, wasn’t working. I had sent her the September column in which I self-deprecatingly declared my eternal love for the 20-something cutie, but she had never replied. Evidently some gals just don’t understand good-natured, self-effacing shtick. Yeah, like I really was hoping to be introduced to her family!
The gal who waited on me this time was equally young and gorgeous, but I thought better of asking for her email address. God forbid I should scare a second waitress into a protective order. Thankfully I had worn my new blue jeans instead of the white ones, lest she later tell Megan, “I think I met your freak stalker.”
Oh, I bought lots of new threads, including two pairs of flashy tennis shoes. During one of my many trips to various dressing rooms, I thought, “Why can’t they put the price tags on a universally agreed-upon spot?” Then in the Herberger’s dressing room, I shrieked, “Oh my God. That CAN’T be my stomach!” I then took the size 33 waist back to the rack and returned with a size 34. I was, and remain, mortified at what I saw that day.
There was a time, back when white jeans were in, that I was nicknamed by a buffed guy at the gym, “Six-Pack Dougie.” Now I was staring at “12-pack and a keg Dougie,” and the vain hope it was one of those funhouse mirrors wasn’t going to change it. As alarming and horrific as my new reality was, Homer Simpson was staring back at me from that mirror.
In spite of this sobering revelation, it sadly didn’t deter me from eating lunch that second day at “The Pizza Ranch,” a cheap, semi-clean pizza and chicken buffet. Modern culinary technology being what it is, my dad would roll over in his grave to learn of a macaroni ‘n cheese pizza. I had several slices and almost wished it was smothered in gravy. Adjusting my new belt around my new size 34s, I said to myself: “Who cares? I’ll start eating salads and fruit after I get home.”
Well, I’m home and I haven’t. At this writing, I eagerly await a Marie Callender’s lasagna baking in the microwave, and there’s nary a leafy green in the house. Kale still takes a back seat to kielbasa, but all that will most likely change tomorrow morning right after a four-egg omelet I have penciled in.
At least my snazzy, new, baby-blue, ‘97 Ford F-150 ran great throughout its first big, 200-mile test. Dad would probably also blanch at the modern air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and even mirrors that adjust from the inside. I’ll tell you what though: after what I witnessed in that Herberger’s mirror, I’ll be adjusting all mirrors as directly away from me as possible!
But I’m still gonna wear my $35 white jeans, whenever and wherever I please — possibly even after Labor Day. Hey, I don’t follow the trends … I set the trends, baby!