By Kelly Albrecht
Recently, after a day of shopping I returned home with two big bags of new clothes. But just as exciting as the new outfits was that I spent the same amount for two bags of clothes that normally cost the same as a single pair of pants. That is because, even though they were new to me, they weren’t exactly new. I bought them from a thrift store. I have never been one for always wearing the latest fashions, I never cared if my belt matched the color of my shoes, and I dislike wearing company logos printed across my chest.
A few days later, after putting the clothes through the wash, I prepared to go out for the evening, wearing a pair of the jeans I had purchased. I had to admit, they looked good on me, but better yet, they looked practically brand new and I wondered why someone had gotten rid of them.
Just before heading out the door, I slid my phone in one front pocket and my keys in the other, and I felt them land at my feet at the same time. That is when I shoved both hands deep in my pockets and discovered what I had expected. Both sides had been perfectly cut open. At that moment, I knew the exact reason why the previous owner had to depart with them. He was in clear violation of steps one and seven.
The only reason I knew this is because I had the same pamphlet, which clearly states step by step on how to overcome the self-abuse of your temple. Step one said to never touch the intimate parts of your body, and though step seven is more about pornographic material, it does say to get rid of all temptations that could lead you down a shameful path of sin and eternal darkness. Obviously, the damaged pants with no front pockets made it all too easy to explore forbidden territories.
When I first began the program in my teens to stop pounding the veal, the hardest step was number 19. That’s the one where you tie your hand to the bedpost in case the urge strikes in semi-sleep and you don’t realize you are doing it. First off, I had to convince my parents I needed bedposts. How many teenage boys have bedposts anyway? Most of us were lucky to get a headboard. But when I told them the salvation of my soul depended on it, they went to RC Willey that very night. Personally, I found it amusing that they went to Willey’s to prevent me from touching my Willey.
The other hard part about step 19 was learning to tie a knot with one hand. As soon as I figured it out though, it became the most beneficial of all the steps, even better than imagining myself in a tub of worms every time I wanted a plump and juicy. I felt for sure that my little factory was about to release the valve all on its own. But then my father decided to have an unexpected fire drill.
When the alarm sounded, I panicked, and in my hurry to get undone, I only made it tighter. When I did not show up at the designated tree in a timely manner, my dad came looking for me. Can you imagine the look on his face when the light flicked on in my room? I played it cool though, and my fast thinking got me out of another tricky situation, “Well how did that get there?” I said, “I swear it wasn’t there when I went to bed.”
The next morning, despite yet another traumatic experience of my youth, I had to color in another black day on my calendar of shame. Step nine, color in the days you have weakness in order to track your progress; or in my case, the lack thereof.
This truly inspired leaflet has no doubt rescued many a young man from his habits of tenderizing the meat. If you find that you are struggling, you can find a complete list by doing a search for steps to overcome a Vaseline slip-slide ride.
The pants were a great buy, and they did look good on me. But even though I have accepted the fate that awaits me at my judgement, I eventually donated them to another store. Every time I wore them I caught myself checking local movie times or sitting at the back of the bus.
The benefits of shopping at a thrift store, it turns out, are far better than just a good value. So for those of you who have given up on a life of purity and clean socks, go now, before someone else snatches up this small window of opportunity. But I must tell you, unfortunately, if you like to participate in the five-finger knuckle shuffle, you and I can never be friends, because step three says we can’t.
Gay Writes is a DiverseCity Series writing group, a program of SLCC’s Community Writing Center. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 6:30-8 pm, 210 E. 400 South, Ste. 8, Salt Lake.