Their logo should be a Betamax wearing an ironic fedora

[An online conversation between myself and Nuke.]

Nuke: “So we’re going to have to recant all of our artisanal solvent jokes, because we start stocking them tomorrow.”

Me: “Awesome. Whenever someone asks me which brand I prefer, I’m going to say, ‘You probably haven’t heard of it.’

“We’re carrying their eucalyptus-peppermint blend.”

Me: “…”

Nuke: “And sage-frankincense.”

Me: “Please tell me you’re making this up.”

Nuke: “Nope. Their slogan is ‘Farm to Disco.'”

Me: “YOU ARE MAKING THIS UP.”

Nuke: “I couldn’t if I tried. I’m not that witty.”

Me: “I’m going to be so pissed off if this turns out to be an elaborate hoax.”

And suddenly Rok sent me a message that read, “It’s not a hoax,” which scared the shit out of me, because clearly Big Solvent had hacked my social media. But then I remembered that Nuke and Rok live together and were probably just texting me from the same room, which made me feel a little less like the victim of multiple, interlocking conspiracies.

So then I messaged my friend Leigh in San Francisco and was like, “Dude. We’re selling ethically-sourced peppermint solvents.” And he went, “Oh, Double Scorpio? They’re very popular.” Apparently, they’ve been advertising on Tumblr for the past year, and I’m like the only gay man with Internet access who wasn’t aware of that, which means it’s probably time to slip on a pair of Sansabelts and threaten to turn the hose on any kid who gets near my lawn.

PS: Rok keeps saying that sage-scented solvents are basically just liquid smudge sticks, and therefore using them would be entirely spiritual and in no way a relapse. Yeah. I may not know what to believe anymore, but that totally still feels like a trap.

Oh, Baby, You’re So Queercore

Customer 1: [pointing to a ball-stretcher] “Do you know what this is?”

Customer 2: “A cock ring, I guess?”

Customer 1: “No. It goes on your balls.”

Customer 2: “… Oh. Okay.”

Customer 1: “And do you know what these metal rods are for?”

Customer 2: “No.”

Customer 1: “They’re for sounding. They go in your urethra.”

Customer 2: “I… I don’t think I want to try that.”

Customer 1: “Do you know what these bandanas mean?”

[Ed. Note: We get a customer like this about once a week. Don’t let the J Crew styling and the perfectly coiffed hair and the appletini fool you — they have been around and seen some shit, and they love nothing more than to drag their friends into the Forge and demonstrate their encyclopedic knowledge of kink impedimenta.]

Customer 2: “I really want to try on a harness.”

Customer 1: “You don’t know how to put on a harness.”

Customer 2: “I am perfectly capable of putting on a harness…” [A brief but epic struggle ensues. The harness wins.]

Me: “Hi. May I take a look?”

Customer 1: [glare]

Customer 2: “Sure.”

Me: “Okay… here’s the problem. You’ve got it on backwards.”

Customer 1: [malevolent cackling]

Me: [ignoring said cackles] “Let’s get it off of you and see if we can resize it for a better fit.”

[I peel him out of the harness, lay it on the counter, and start putting it back together, since he undid several buckles while trying to pull it over his head, and it’s now a big jumble of matching belts.]

Customer 2: [watching me trying to determine which belt goes where] “Geez. If a professional can’t figure it out, then I definitely don’t want to buy it.”

Customer 1: “Oh, he is not a professional.”

Me: [whipping around with shade locked and loaded]

[Inner Me: Not yet, my child. Wait for it.]

Customer 2: “What about this harness? It looks kind of cool.”

Customer 1: “Oh, you definitely do not want that harness. Do you know what it’s for?”

[Ed. Note: I swear to the Gods I am not making this up.]

Customer 1: “This harness is used for puppy play. See that metal ring in the back? That’s to hold your tail in place once you’ve inserted it into your ass.”

Me: “Yeah… those are suspenders.”

Customer 1: “…”

Customer 2: “They’re what?”

Me: “Suspenders. They go over your shoulders and clip onto your belt loops.”

[long pause]

Customer 2: “Why am I even friends with you?”

Customer 1: What?! You need me!

Customer 2: “No, I don’t. You’re really mean.”

Customer 1: “I am not mean. I am an honest asshole.”

Well, at least he’s half right. But all the accolades go to Inner Me for accurately predicting the future. I will try to remember to use this power for good.

I now wear a t-shirt over a leather jacket, because I all I really want is to watch the world burn.

Once again, the nectarious Orin Slade managed to sum up last night’s Facets of Leather far more gloriously than I ever could:

If you’re not listening to on this month’s broadcast, here’s a sample of what you’ve missed so far. Event information, humorous leather stories. The continuing battle between the harness with shirt people vs the harness without shirt people…

IMG_20180715_033509Official synopsis aside, I discovered this episode’s overlooked track the last time I was at the Hidden Door in Dallas, when I glanced up at the monitor over the back bar and caught some of the video and thought, “I don’t… I don’t understand why this is happening to me.” But later I was able to listen to the song itself, and I totes fell in love: It’s like the Petshop Boys and Robbie Williams had an illegitimate love child that escaped into the woods to be raised by Jamiroquai, and I do believe you’ll find it doesn’t suck.

Trigger Point of Impact

So this went down a couple of weeks ago:

Customer: [pointing at a can of Maximum Impact]: “What is that?”

Nuke: “Are you into fisting?”

Customer: “Um, no.”

Nuke: “Then you don’t need that.”

Nuke related this story to the rest of the Forge staff, and we all commended him on his quick wit, and secretly I was like, “I’ma totally steal this.”

And then this went down last night:

Customer: [pointing at a can of Maximum Impact]: “What is that?”

Me: [confidently] “Are you into fisting?”

Customer: “FISTING?!? EWWWW!!!”

Me: “Whoa, easy there…”

Customer: “WHY WOULD YOU EVEN ASK ME ABOUT FISTING?!?”

Me: “Well… people who are into fisting sometimes buy Max Impact…”

Customer: “PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO THAT?!?”

Me: “Uh… yeah… some people do…”

Customer: “WHY DO PEOPLE DO THAT?!?

Me: “I… um…”

Customer: “EWWWW!!!

Conclusion(s): I will never make fetch happen. It is also time to abandon my dream of becoming a crisis negotiator.

Putting the Asses in Criminal Assessment

Straight Girl: [to her friend] “FUCK HIM. I AM A GROWN-ASS FUCKING WOMAN WITH MY OWN FUCKING HOME, AND I DO NOT NEED HIS SORRY FUCKING ASS TELLING ME WHAT THE FUCK TO DO. NOBODY TELLS MY FUCKING ASS WHAT TO DO.” [then, to me] “Hello! Would you like to buy a raffle ticket?”

I thought about explaining that unauthorized raffles are considered gambling under Texas state law and as such are a Class A misdemeanor, but instead I just politely declined. Wouldn’t want her thinking my ass was telling her ass what to do.

The Napkin Rings Are Self-Explanatory

Customer: [holding up a roll of bondage tape] “How well does this work?”

Me: “It works very well — it’s less adhesive than regular duct tape, so it holds, but it’s not painful to remove from skin.”

Customer: [disappointed] “Oh. Okay. So it wouldn’t be good for renovation projects around the house.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “Like, I shouldn’t use it to mark off my floor before painting, huh?”

Me: “I… would suggest not.”

Okay, so let me say right now that I am not ashamed of any aspect of my life. I am a proud gay Pagan who wears leather and gets his kicks spanking people, and if anyone has a problem with any of that, I will scream enlightenment into their face faster than you can say “Evangelical.” But for whatever reason, this customer wanting one of our products for a non-kinky purpose made me feel like the world’s biggest pervert. I don’t know why it hit me that way, but suddenly it was like I worked in a mundane hardware store and was actively soiling the innocent nature of home improvement:

“A hammer? Oh, no, sir. That’s not a hammer. That’s for shoving up your ass.”

I tried to let it go, you guys; I really did. But an hour later, another customer came in and pointed to a giant, metal ball-stretcher and was all, “I keep one of these on my desk as a paperweight!” At which point I fucking gave up.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my apartment, applying silicone lube to squeaky door hinges and turning jock pouches into tea cozies.

We’ve secretly replaced the fine solvents we usually serve with battery acid and patchouli. Let’s see if anyone can tell the difference.

Customer 1: “Which solvent do you personally recommend?”

Me: “Amsterdam.”

Customer 1: “Awesome! I’ll take a bottle of Amsterdam.”

[Later…]

Customer 2: “Which solvent is your favorite?”

Me: “Iron Horse.”

Customer 2: “Cool! I’ll take a bottle of Iron Horse.”

[Later still…]

Customer 3: “Which solvent do you prefer?”

Me: “Jungle Juice.”

Customer 3: “Excellent! I’ll take a bottle of Jungle Juice.”

[Even more later…]

Customer 4: “In your experience, which of these solvents is the most intense?”

Me: “Pig Sweat.”

Customer 4: “Nifty! I’ll take a bottle of Pig Sweat.”

Sooner or later, someone’s going to figure out that I’m just running down the list of brand names alphabetically, but hey, it still beats repeatedly explaining that I don’t actually use them. Plus I get to feel like a sommelier without having to relapse. It’s pretty much wins all the way around.

In Sickness and in Something About Mary

Customer 1: [yelling at someone out in the bar] “HEY, CHAD. DID I NOT ONCE GET MY SCROTUM CAUGHT IN MY ZIPPER?”

Customer 2: “Jesus. We’re getting married on Saturday. How did I not know this about you?”

Customer 1: “You’ve never noticed the J-shaped scar on my balls? There was meat on both sides of the metal. Anyway, let’s go get a drink. I need a cocktail.”

You and me both, Teddy Boy. But let’s maybe use yours as antiseptic.

Can I get a witness? Oh, hey, cool: a witness. Much obliged.

[My friend Jessie came into the store last night to give me a tote bag he’d found that he thought I’d appreciate. He was more than correct, and I was cooing over said notary tote (totary?) when a customer meandered in and randomly started telling us about his new crush.]

Customer: “I met the cutest guy this week.”

Me: “Oh?”

Customer: “Yeah, he’s awkward, like me.”

Me: “Aww, that’s sweet.”

Customer: “He sold me bad drugs.”

Me: “And that’s… wait, what?”

Customer: “He’s a really bad drug dealer. I saw him today, too. He was drunk and had just fallen off his bicycle, so his face was pretty messed up.”

Me: “…”

Customer: “It was very endearing.”

Me: “That’s one way of looking at it…”

Customer: “So do you think I should, like, pursue him? He’s so awkward, like I am.”

Me: “Okay… awkward can be nice, but the parts where he’s a drug dealer and gets so trashed that he falls off of his bike are kinda cons. Y’know?”

Customer: “Yeah, I guess. But I really like how awkward he is.”

And then he started licking the side of his beer bottle and drifted out of the store, and Jessie was like, “Wow. That… legitimately just happened.” And I was all, “SEE?! I DO NOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP.”

A few minutes later, a different customer asked which solvents I prefer. I told him that I don’t use them personally, and he got all weirded out and was like, “… Oh. Awkward.”

Bitch, you don’t know from awkward.