My regular Sunday shift was crazy slow because of the Super Bowl, so Carlisle and I spent most of it lounging about and instructing Scrappy on the rules of gin rummy. Eventually, though, a pair of customers traipsed in, one of whom muttered, “We have got to stop shopping when we’re drunk.”
Momentarily blinded by Tex Avery dollar signs, I turned towards the approximate direction of their voices and asked how I might be of service.
Customer 1: “I like this shirt. Do you have it in a fat size?”
Me: “Well, I’ve got an extra large–”
Customer 1: “Not that fat.”
Me: “… and a large.”
Customer 1: “Ugh. I’ll never fit in a large.”
Scrappy: “Why not? It’s very slimming.”
And here’s where our Scrappy learned an important lesson about interpersonal communication in the gay community. When a gay man calls himself fat, he is not making an objective statement, but rather trolling for flattery. Ergo, the response he expects is vehement denial (“OMG, you are so not fat! You are as svelte as the wily ferret, you 90-pound supermodel, you!”), not cheerful agreement.
A few seconds ticked by, and then Customer 1 begrudgingly decided to try on the large and closed himself in the dressing room.
Customer 1: [yelling from behind the curtains] “IT FITS, BUT IT’S CUPPING MY ROLLS.”
Scrappy: [yelling back] “IT’S SUPPOSED TO CUP YOUR ROLLS.”
Me: “STOP HELPING.”
Meanwhile, Customer 2 had his eye on a particular harness, but, while built like a fireplug, with the chest and shoulders of an MMA fighter, he was adamant that he would only fit into an extra small. So I had him raise his arms and attempted to slide one onto him. I got the harness down to his armpits before it welded to his skin and refused to budge. With his arms squeezed together in the air and his face mashed by a shoulder strap, he looked, for all intents and purposes, like a cat stuck in ductwork.
Me: “Want to maybe try a medium?”
Customer 2: [unable to speak without chewing himself free; opting to nod instead]
Customer 1 ended up buying the large shirt after all, and he even wore it out into the bar, where it fit him well and cupped nothing untowardly. And Customer 2 came away with the knowledge that leather is sized differently than regular clothing, so even if he has to wear a medium to accommodate his muscle development, he can still identify as petite.
And a few minutes later, I got cocky about my gin rummy skills, at which point Scrappy knocked and kicked my ass. It was a good night for teachable moments all around.