Like a Boy Scout with Better Patches

Contrary to popular perception, retail is more that just slouching behind a register and letting the merchandise sell itself. You have to have extensive product knowledge and an instinctive, welcoming presence, but also be fully aware that weird shit is going to happen in your store, and that you will be expected to deal with it while coolly maintaining a steadfast facade of cordial service.

So when a customer decided to try on a metal cock ring and five minutes later leaned out of the dressing room and said, “Um… it’s stuck…” I was right there with a calm, collected disposition and sample packets of water-based lube for him to apply (on his own) in order to slip (almost) painlessly from the situation into which he had (literally) shoved himself, because I am a retail employee, and I am prepared.

And after my shift, as I was pulling out of the Ripcord parking lot, a drag queen jumped in front of my car and yanked up her skirt to show me her tuck while screaming, “WHITE BOY!! I LOVE YOU, WHITE BOY!!”

I was… not prepared for that. But it’s nice to feel appreciated.

The Witch Doctor Wears Prada

A shamanic crisis occurs when a member of a tribe is stricken with an illness that can’t be cured by physical means. The afflicted individual is taken to a shaman, who puts him/her through an initiatory ordeal: Should the individual pass the test, he/she is healed and becomes a shaman him/herself, vested with the ability to guide others through said crisis.

The relationship between sponsor and sponsee in 12-Step recovery mirrors the shamanic process, in that the sponsor has gone through the Steps and has (hopefully) had a spiritual awakening, thereby gaining the wisdom and experience to lead by example and show his/her sponsee(s) how to navigate the same path. With this in mind, here’s a list of things my own sponsor has said to me since we started working together:

“I want you to relapse so that I can talk about it in meetings and get sympathy.”

“I’m in New York for a little Gucci, a little Barneys; you know, the essentials.”

“What are you going to do? Whore at me?”

“That thing you do–what’s it called, compassion? I don’t do that.”

“You need to change your profile to say, ‘Seeking active alcoholic with no interest in recovery,’ because that’s all you’re ever going to get.”

“Do you have any idea how many people have touched the cheese samples at Whole Foods? And you ate one? You’re going to die.”

“Are you feeding the good dog? You’re not feeding the good dog. Feed the good dog.”

“You are a terrible person. I love it.”

“I just want to control your life.”

“I probably shouldn’t be encouraging you to act like this, huh?”

“I don’t know whether I should apologize, or if you should thank me.”

“I’m the Worst. Sponsor. Ever.”

People who don’t know me will see this and naturally assume I’m going to smoke crack at any moment. Regular readers, on the other hand, will recognize why we make a simply fabulous shamanic pairing.

Mannequin Takes Queen

Customer: [holding up a pair of rubber shorts] “Could you try these on for us?”

Customer’s Friends: [anticipatory leering]

Me: “You want me to put these on?”

Customer: “Yesss.”

Me: “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

Customer: “Really? You won’t let us see you in them?”

Me: “Nope.”

Customer: “But how will we know how they fit if you don’t wear them for us?”

Me: “By trying them on yourself.”

Customer’s Friends: [defeated wincing]

Customer: “Oh. But I… that is… we… oh.”

Good game, Mr. Smarmy-Pants. But check and mate.

Close Encounters of the Nasal Cavity

[A conversation with Douglas, who is currently suffering from an unidentified sinus plague and intermittent brain fever.]

Douglas: “I never knew the human body could produce so much snot. No wonder the aliens won’t come back.”

Me: “I am both grossed out and intrigued. Please continue.”

Douglas: “Well, ancient history does show evidence that aliens visited this planet, but they haven’t made contact in the modern times, so it must be because the human body produces a butt-load of mucus when the human gets sick. That’s why they won’t return. They want nothing to do with us.”

Me: “…”

Or, it could be that they thought we were incubating other life forms within our noses and were sure that’s what all the fluid was, and therefore they couldn’t impregnate us, so we were useless to them.”

Me: [awed silence]

Douglas: “I think the fever is back.”

You would see the biggest gift would be from me, and the card attached would say, “Thank you for selling me socks.”

Picture it: Houston, January 2017. An innocent yet devastatingly handsome customer, on his way to a statewide leather competition, ambles into the Montrose Forge for some last-minute purchases.

Salesclerk: “Buy stuff.”

Customer: “I did buy stuff.”

Salesclerk: “Buy more stuff.”

Customer: “No. I bought enough stuff.”

Salesclerk: “But it’s my job to sell you more stuff. Do you need socks?”

Customer: “You know, I used to have these really cool, gray Nasty Pig socks, but I wore holes in them.”

Salesclerk: “Oh, they discontinued that line, and we sold out of them.”

Customer: “Ah. So I guess you won’t be selling me more stuff.”

Salesclerk: [pulling gray socks out of fucking Hammerspace] “Except for this one last pair…”


Readers, that customer was me. And that salesclerk [dramatic pause] was Nuke Willam Belli.

And we’ve been siblings ever since. The End.

Harnessing Heritage

Customer: “I have a question for you.”

Me: “Yes?”

Customer: “So, I’m black, right? And you know how there are different colors of harnesses, and camouflage harnesses and whatever? Well, I’m, like, really black, and I want a kente cloth harness.”


Customer: “I KNOW.”

Me: “One of our owners does a lot of custom work. Go into our main store during the week, and I’ll bet he’ll be able to figure something out for you.”

Customer: “Excellent!”

Me: “And you know what else? I’m Irish and Scottish. We should have him make a tartan harness too.”



Customer: “YES. WE. ARE.”

Poor Rok is going to have his work cut out for him, but he’ll totally thank me when the Forge becomes the new Benetton.

Women Who Run with the Lap Dogs

Straight Female Customer: “What is this?”

Me: “That is a cock cage.” [Ed. Note: Link severely NSFW. Please don’t get fired.]

SFC: “Would it go on when the guy is, like, limp?”

Me: “Yes, and then it would prevent him from getting an erection.”

SFC: “But wouldn’t that be painful?”

Me: “Well, that’s kind of the point. It’s used for forced chastity.”

SFC: “Oh, okay! Women have the same thing, except with a lock and key. And, y’know, CLAMP CLAMP CLAMP.”

Me: “… Ah. Yes.”

SFC: “I bought my Chihuahua a cock ring.”

Me: [stunned silence]

SFC: “There used to be a store down the street from here called Lola’s.” [Ed. Note: It was called Lobo.] “They had studded leather cock rings, and I got one for my Chihuahua to wear as a collar. Do you have any studded leather cock rings?”

Me: “I’m afraid we do not.”

SFC: “Oh. Well, he was adorable. And very passive.”

Me: “Undoubtedly.”


Instead of wrapping things up with a clever one-liner, I’d like to share a quotation from the greviously underrated romantic comedy The Truth About Cats and Dogs:

“This is a good time to talk about limits. You can love your pets, but just don’t love your pets.”

Let that be a public service announcement to us all.

Brotherly Love

The Misfits tended bar at Ripcord last night, and at one point Nuke dropped by to say howdy, when a calamitously drunk preppy with questions on his mind trickled onto the scene and started talking.

Drunk Preppy: “Are you two brothers?”

Nuke: “Oh, dear God, no.”

Drunk Preppy: “You’re not brothers?”

Me: “We are not.”

Drunk Preppy: “But you look so similar…”

Nuke: “In that we’re both balding?”

Drunk Preppy: “You’re brothers.”

Me: “Well, that would make all the sex we had pretty awkward, huh?”


Nuke: “It was only twice.”

Drunk Preppy: “SERIOUSLY?!”

Nuke: [poker face level: Jedi]

Me: “But my brother and I ultimately decided to see other people.”

Drunk Preppy: “So… you really are brothers?”

Me: “No. We are not brothers.”

Drunk Preppy: “But… but you look alike.”

Nuke: “Hey, I can only hope to look that good when I’m his age.”

Drunk Preppy: “How old are you?”

Me: “I’m 73, but I moisturize.”

At which time the preppy stumbled away in bafflement and despair, ne’er to be seen again. Our work was done.

As a side note, Nuke is hosting his first Puppy of Montrose fundraiser at JR’s Bar and Grill on March 3, where he will be performing a selection of bawdy songs from the Middle Ages through the present day. I’ll be the one in the front row wearing a Focus on the Family T-shirt.

To be fair, “Scarlet Quaffle” legitimately sounds like something we’d keep in stock.

Customer 1: “Harry Potter!”

[Inner Me: Again? Really?]

Customer 2: “Oh, my God, yes!”

[Inner Me: Jesus fucking yellow penguins…]

Customer 1: “Gryffindor!”

Customer 2: “Slytherin!”

[Inner Me: IT’S NOT A GODDAMNED HARRY POT-oh. Right. Scrimmage socks.]


So now I’m going to open a Quidditch Accessories booth in the vendor room of the next Houston-area cosplay event and tell everyone that Nasty Pig is a new house at Ilvermorny. It’s sheer marketing genius on my part — I can in no way imagine this ending catastrophically.