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Date: 01.14.04
Place: King of Prussia Mall (Court), Pennsylvania
Store: Banana Republic
Props: Baby name book

Salesgirl (friendly and painfully attractive): Do you need help finding anything today, sir?

Me: Yes, I had some questions regarding your pants. 

Salesgirl (disgusted): And what do you need to know about my pants?

Me (entire vascular complement of blood rushes to face): Oh, no, that’s not what I meant. I’m sorry. I want to know about the store’s pants. Not that yours aren’t nice. 

Salesgirl (eases hand off of walkie talkie): I see. Well, what kind of pants are you interested in?

Me: I enjoy many pants, but I’d like to see your men’s trousers, if that’s cool.

Salesgirl: Sure. Over here we have a wide selection of sizes and styles. Flannel, wool, relaxed-fit, flat-front, pleated, pretty much everything you could want. 

Me: Why do these pants have men’s names?

Salesgirl: I’m not sure I know what you mean.

Me: Look, right here. These are called ‘Dawson’. Are they named after someone? Like the designer or whatever?

Salesgirl: I never noticed that before. I don’t know. They are 15% off until next week, so that’s a deal. 

Me: Maybe they named it that to cash in on ‘Dawson’s Creek’, you know, the popularity of the show and all. 

Salesgirl: Could be. I wouldn’t know. 

Me: What about these- why are they named ‘Emerson’? Are these pants especially suited to Transcendentalist thought? Do they struggle against the strictures and ignorance of Old World pant traditions?

Salesgirl: I think so. [pauses] Are you going to buy anything?

Me: Not unless you can answer some questions, missy. 

Salesgirl (with the thinly-veiled hostility of a veteran waitress): Fine. What else do you want to know?

Me: Are a lot of guys alarmed by the fact that they’re wearing pants named after men?

Salesgirl: Doesn’t seem to bother anyone but you. 

Me: What about women’s clothing? Why don’t they call dresses ‘Sylvia’, or ‘Esther’?

Salesgirl: I think most women would notice that and be freaked out.

Me: Fair enough. [Here’s where I broke out the baby name book] Are you aware that the name Gavin, which is the label of your flat-front lightweight wool dress trousers, means ‘white hawk’? Isn’t that a code for cocaine? Why do you want me to buy clothing that is, essentially, narcotics? 

Salesgirl: Are you from MTV- like Punk’d or some show?

Me: Um, no. 

Salesgirl: [this must have been when she hit the ‘distress’ button on her walkie talkie] I’m going to have to ask you to leave, sir. 

Me: Oh, I meant, yes, I am from MTV. We’re doing a new show called ‘That’s F***ing Crazy!’, and I’m the producer. 

[At this point, I was escorted from the store by two guys who both had the distinctively Neanderthal-ish brows and jutting jaws of people whose mothers rocked the Sutter Home rosé during trimesters 1 through 3.]

Part 2. 
Date: Same
Place: King of Prussia Mall (Plaza), Pennsylvania
Store: Fossil
Props: Baby name book, mace

Salesman (popping out from behind display): Hi, how are you doing today?

Me (extended heart arrhythmia): Fine, thanks. I’d like to look at some shirts. 

Salesman: Go right ahead. [gestures to rack, goes back to meticulous folding]

Me: Okay, I will. 

*5 minutes pass. Still no solicitations from salesman. Disappointing reaction-time. I try hiding in a rack of t-shirts and giggling loudly- still nothing. I knock a stack of sweaters to the ground, then stomp on them.*

Me: Hey, little help here?

Salesman: Oh, of course. Sorry about that. 

Me: You should be, buddy. This place is pretty confusing. 

Salesman: How do you mean?

Me: Well, look right here. Why is this sweater called ‘Colin’? What the hell does that mean?

Salesman: I think it’s just for the sake of convenience, you know? Like I could tell Lisa, the manager, ‘we’re out of Colins’, or ‘some asshole knocked a stack of Colins over and they got all dirty.’ Stuff like that.

Me (ignoring insult to maintain journalistic dignity): Uh-huh. Fuck you too, pal. So, back to business, how long has this been going on, the naming thing?

Salesman: Forever. I mean, we’ve always called them that. 

Me: I find your customs strange and your mercantile heuristics offensive. 

Salesman: …

Me: What do you think of that?

Salesman: …

Me: Let me take it down a notch. So, as I was saying, are you aware that the name ‘Brody’ (scanning name book) is Celtic for ‘ditch’? Is Fossil marketing this knit polo shirt as the de rigueur attire for being shanked in the kidneys and dropped to the side of the road in the outskirts of Dublin? If it’s not, it should be. 

Salesman: You’re not going to kill me, are you? Is that what you’re saying?

Me: Hmm. (scratches chin) No, I think I’ll leave now, thanks for your help. [inserts mace into female mannequin’s hand, starts backing slowly out of store] Goodbye, slave- have fun peddling your death shrouds. You people…[wipes hands on pants, shirt; performs small, intricate dance, then runs] 

[Forever after at

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Called Incidents of Egotourism in the Temporary World
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