Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I haven't disappeared. Promise.

So I've been fielding a few phone calls and e-mails this week from Leader readers wondering what's up with my column, or lack thereof, in a couple of recent issues. Don't worry, it's no big deal.

With all the headaches that come with putting together The Leader every week in its awesome new format, it's easy to accidentally omit something... and twice this month, my column was the accidental forgotten victim.

I'm told that this week's issue will contain both last week's omitted column AND this week's brand new one. So hey, a double dose of yours truly awaits.

COLUMN: Comments

I remember the first time I got on the internet. All at once, it was the gateway to a new dawn, an exciting future opening up over the horizon, and at least three or four other equally corny phrases.

Where would it all lead? Perhaps a portal for commerce. Maybe a way to communicate with people on the other side of the globe. A design to bring humanity together, to strengthen the bonds of man, to unite us all as one.

Or maybe, just maybe, it would be an easier way for a random stranger to call me a jerk and an idiot.

I love our newspaper's website, but I'll tell you what, I sure loved it more when you couldn't anonymously comment on every story. Actually, I don't mind the occasional criticism -- I'd just prefer it came from RATIONAL human beings, and rationality doesn't come easy on the internet.

In a way, it's karmic retribution. When I first got online, one of the first places I hung out at was a site for like-minded pop culture nerds such as myself. The premise was that it'd be a super-neat way to meet people from around the world and have thoughtful discussions and discourse about the state of popular entertainment. The reality was that it was a super-neat way to meet people from around the world and insult them mercilessly. You don't like this band? Then you CERTAINLY must be stupid. Oh, yeah? Well, YOU'RE stupid, stupid! Ad infinitum.

I know what it's like to get burned by somebody online, so I shouldn't take anonymous criticism too seriously. Yet every time I see a negative comment on one of my columns, I have to forcibly stop my competitive side from yelling "Game On!" and writing an equally pointless vitriolic rebuttal. Every week, the ritual goes something like this:

(1) I write a column. I try to be funny. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.

(2) The first online comment that always appears is something along the lines of: "Is this what passes for news nowadays?" NO. IT'S NOT. I'm a columnist, not a reporter. The day I break a news story will be the day you realize that something has gone horribly, horribly amiss at the paper. Not every iota of a newspaper is devoted to hard news. You'll find as much news in my columns as you'll find in one of our cookie recipes or an average strip of Nancy (Newsflash: Aunt Fritzi is still hot. Nancy is still creepy.)

(3) Another anonymous post will usually say something like: "I woke up today and I ate some cereal for breakfast. Then I took a shower. Can I get a job as a writer now, too?" I like this guy's style, I do. And once, just to get his goat, I tried to write an entire column about eating cereal. Sadly, that one out-mundaned even me. (Though, for the record, I once threw up after being force-fed shredded wheat by a slightly off-kilter 3rd grade teacher. But that's the extent of my breakfast material, sorry.)

From there, it devolves into an I-like-Shane, I-hate-Shane comment war that lasts until the next column pops up and people forget about the old one. Last week, though, I was especially scared.

There's a chance that my last column may have caused some controversy within the quaint town of Welton, IA. It may have stemmed from my opening line, which read, "Dear residents of Welton, IA: I hate you all, and I hate your stupid little town." You see, my car chose Welton, IA as the perfect place to break down on me recently. Ergo, via simple logic, Welton must be to blame, right? Okay, sure, I was overdue for an oil change and maybe I skipped the last 2 or 3 check-up appointments, but that's beside the point. Every story needs a villain, and in this one, it's clearly the humble (yet evil) village of Welton.

When the story ran, I was a bit ancy. Something told me that maybe some Weltonians might not get the joke. Sure enough, a couple comments popped up online from folks a bit miffed that I chose their town to have some fun with. The "is this news" guy showed up. Even the cereal guy made an appearance. But, for the most part, the comments were positive. Heck, I even got phone calls from a couple people in Welton who got a kick out of the column, one who shared a laugh because he saw me out there with my hood up waiting for a tow. Not to sound like Sally Field winning an Oscar, but hey, YOU LIKE ME! YOU REALLY LIKE ME!

Well, some of you do. Others? Well, I'll imagine the online comments will continue to flow. And I'll remain humbled by the good ones & neurotic over the bad ones. This week, I asked a few of my fellow columnists how they dealt with negative comments. Most told me to ignore them. Our own Johnny Marx, though, reminded me that -- good or bad -- the comments mean that you guys are reading our papers, caring about what we say, and paying our bills. When you think about it, what better compliment could a guy ask for?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

COLUMN: Breakdown

Dear Residents of Welton, Iowa:

I hate you all, and I hate your stupid little town.

Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh. I'm sure that Welton's a fine little community full of good folk who live in harmony. Truth be told, prior to last weekend, I had never even heard of Welton, Iowa. More truth be told, though, I wish I were still unaware of its existence.

The afternoon started off peachy. I decided to go for a drive with a friend of mine of the female persuasion. It was one of those aimless, Al-Gore-would-not-be-amused afternoon pleasure cruises with no particular destination in mind.

My car had other plans, though, as indicated by the temperature alarm and red lights of the not-good-at-all variety popping up on my dashboard. We were 40 miles away from home.

"Gee, golly," I said in the imaginary family-friendly-newspaper world where I never swear in real life, "This is certainly a pickle."

Happily, less than a mile away I could see a gas station. By the time I got there, though, the Beetle was making a scream under the hood not unlike the sound my cat made the other day when I accidentally rolled my desk chair over her tail. This was NOT good.

See, I've mentioned a billion times in print by now that I'm kind of a weenie, right? And most definitely, one of the chapters of "How To Be A Super Awesome Macho Dude" that I managed to skip in life was the one about automotive maintenance. I know where the gas goes, I know where the oil goes, I know where the key goes. For anything else, I know where my credit card goes.

But that repair shop was 40+ miles away. It's 1000 degrees outside, I'm trying desperately to impress a girl in my car, and I'm effectively nowhere. Excuse me, no, I'm effectively in Welton, Iowa. Ever wonder where Welton, Iowa, is? Answer: It's in NOWHERE.

I opened the hood. There's no discernable reason why I did this, because a car engine makes as much sense to me as a book written in Swahili, but I did it anyways. I checked the oil -- yep, I had oil. I checked the coolant -- yep, I had coolant. In fact, I learned that I had coolant because the moment I broke the air lock on the cap, it all boiled up and all over the engine and onto the pavement. Indeed I HAD coolant. Now the parking lot had it instead. Many apologies to the Welton townsfolk for turning your gas station into a miniature biohazard.

I went into the gas station, added some water, and tried to fire the car back up. It was not amused, and responded by squealing and bleeding all that water right out onto the ground. So I thought for a couple seconds. I needed a plan of action. A plan that would somehow allow us to be rescued, and me to save face in front of the travelling companion. I needed help, but I didn't want to LOOK like I needed help. There was one person I could call.

"Umm, hi, mom," I sheepishly said into the cell phone. "I've got a problem..." That's right. I'm man enough to admit it. My mom knows more about cars than me. It's okay, really, it is. I know more about working at a newspaper and DJing at a dance club than she does, so there. Not that my mom could do a whole heck of a lot, because my car was completely jacked. But trust me, when you're in the middle of nowhere and totally frazzled, your mom's voice can be a good one to hear.

I called a tow truck. I called a friend to come rescue us. Then I waited. And spent more time in Welton than I ever care to. (To add insult to injury, a sign informed us that Friday was "Halibut Day" at that gas station. Curses, missed it by only one day!)

Our crisis was averted. My friend showed up in record time, and, eventually, so did the tow truck. My poor car got hauled back to Moline where I learned that both my water pump and timing belt had gone ker-blooey. Also ker-blooeyed? My checking account, once I paid for the repairs AND the cross-country tow. All told, it was certainly the most expensive daytrip I'd ever taken.

In retrospect, I don't feel so bad that I'm an idiot when it comes to car repair. I mean, even if I HAD known what I was doing under the hood, it wasn't like I could've MacGyvered up a new timing belt with some paper clips and chewing gum. Even if Jeff Gordon had been in the car, we still would've been standing around waiting for that tow truck.

So good people of Welton, I apologize for my earlier outburst. I'm sure your car-eating town is a pleasant place to be. In fact, some of you stopped to see if I needed a hand, and that was pretty cool (though if I had a nickel for every time I heard, "I thought the engine was in the BACK har har," I'd totally have 35 cents by now.) Just forgive me if I'm not exactly in a rush to return to your neck of the woods (Halibut Day notwithstanding.)

John From Cincinatti RIP

Well, it's happened to me again.

I get all into a show and the sucker dies a quick death.

Hollywood Reporter is confirming today that HBO has pulled the plug on "John From Cincinatti," a mere two days after its first season finale. Ten episodes is all we're gonna get.

I wish I could explain why I fell for this show. It was, at its core, an exercise in "artsy for the sake of being artsy," but I was still compelled. When, occasionally, 10 minute scenes would drone on without making hardly ANY sense, I was still compelled. When every third word of the dialogue became "f***," I was still compelled.

It was a show that occasionally made me bristle in its badness. Yet I'm still convinced that the creators were shooting for a really big and powerful message in it somewhere. Redemption... salvation... hope where there should be none... theology... capitalism.

Somewhere in there it all makes sense. And I sincerely hope that there's gonna be a DVD release with some SERIOUS creator commentary.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Uncensored Idol!

So one of my worst traits as a newspaper writer is that I can never seem to write within the size constraints of our paper. This especially sucks when you're writing entertainment articles to run during the week. You see, quite often the available amount of space for non-news stuff fluctuates wildly from day to day and is dictated by the news of the day, the ads that are sold, etc. In other words, if you're writing a fluff piece, you're the first thing to go if something needs to get munched.

I spent most of today in a total American Idol whirlwind. Not only did I get to review the show tonight at the Mark (and hey, it's my blog, I can call the venue whatever I want. I can call it the Doug of the Quad Cities if I want,) but I also got to spend the afternoon interviewing several of the finalists, which was pretty sweet.

As a result, I got two articles in the paper today, which is pretty sweet. Sadly, though -- because every time they send me out to do a story, I return with a non-abridged version of "War and Peace" -- my articles (especially my review of the show itself) got munched pretty hard by our over-worked and incredibly awesome copy editors. Hence, this being my blog, I thought I'd share with you the articles in their full glory as they were intended:

What's in a name?

Well, if that name is American Idol, your answer is: one of the largest commercial juggernauts in the history of pop culture.

If that name is the newly christened i wireless center, the answer Wednesday night was: an almost capacity crowd for the Moline stop of the Idols Live tour. Frankly, I don't care what they call the venue. All I know is that the building's commitment to drawing top talent will forever be a mark of the Quad Cities.

If that name is Sanjaya Malakar, your answer is: one of my favorite anti-heroes of all time. The oft-criticized Idol finalist of the sixth season was welcomed by the crowd as heartily as the rest of the ensemble.

This was my second trip to Idols Live; I also had the pleasure of reviewing the tour the year Fantasia rolled through town. And, once again, I find myself in a bit of a professional conundrum.

As a music critic, I am pre-disposed to applaud originality, creativity, and performers that reach to great lengths to propel their art to new and exciting levels.

Idols Live does none of that, nor does it pretend to. This is pre-fabricated, wholly commercial pop-by-numbers at its finest. At its core, this is -- by its definition -- the greatest karaoke night in the nation.

By all points, I should sincerely hate this show. Then why do I love it so stinkin' much? Easy -- because American Idol knows how to throw a party.

I've got to give them kudos for the intro alone. With house lights still raised and the crowd distracted by giant walking Pop-Tarts (don't ask,) one of the random roadies onstage ripped off his fake beard and wig to reveal himself as Blake Lewis, Idol runner-up and fan favorite. With one scream, the place erupted as the idols stormed the stage to a roaring version of "Let's Get It Started."

Cover versions were definitely the name of the game, but the idols did their best to put their unique stamp on the 30+ songs chosen for the tour. Thanks to the Idol TV show itself, Lewis' version of "You Give Love a Bad Name" is probably more recognizable to the teen crowd than the Bon Jovi original.

Some of the performances literally had the hairs on the back of my neck standing. Idol winner Jordin Sparks could sing the alphabet and have the crowd in a rapture, and Melinda Doolittle's take on "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" was my highlight of the night.

"I Will Always Love You," a song I thought I'd already heard about 2,304 times too many in my lifetime, was given new life by Lakisha Jones and brought the crowd to its feet.

As for Malakar, the kid held his own. When the opening bars of "Thriller" struck, there was no one else I wanted to see rise from the stage floor than Sanjaya, and hey, he rocked it out, moonwalk and all. In fact, I'd say his live vocal chops overall were better than those of his fellow finalists Chris Sligh or Haley Scarnato.

Gina Glockson, the closest thing we've got to a hometown Idol hero (she's from Naperville), was greeted warmly by the crowd, some of whom had obviously made the trek from Chicago-land. Glockson, who hours earlier had gotten engaged live on stage at the tour's Chicago stop, had a natural ease onstage that harkened back to her appearances over the past few years at RIBCO with her old group Catfight.

And, you know what? I take back what I said earlier about a lack of creativity. Lewis' beatboxing skills aren't just a novelty -- he's honestly one of the best in the business at rockin' the box, as he proved time and again throughout the night. If he's a one-trick pony as some might suspect, I don't care -- it's a great trick.

At the end of the day, it's amazing how quickly the American Idol machine can turn a motley crew of talented kids into bona fide world class entertainers. Whether this season's crop of finalsts are destined for the charts or destined for obscurity is up to time and perseverence, but Wednesday night definitely proved one thing: they've got talent on their side.

And my interview piece also got edited a little bit, here's the original version of THAT:

You're in a large window-less room. You've only been awake for a few hours, but you find yourself being shuffled from one table of strangers to the next. At each table, someone points cameras and microphones at your face and asks you 10 different versions of essentially the same question. It is your job to be charming. For me, that would be the definition of impossible. For the finalists of the sixth season of "American Idol," it's just another Wednesday afternoon.

"It's pretty crazy," admitted Idol finalist Phil Stacey prior to last night's show at the i wireless center, "Being on the road, you're really, really tired all the time. But at the same time that it's putting stress onto your physical body and everything, we're having THE absolute time of our lives."

"The tour is a blast," echoed finalist Melinda Doolittle, "A sleepy blast."

The Idols tour is the culmination of a whirlwind year of auditions, TV shows, and a struggle to parlay sudden fame into a professional career. It's a challenge the finalists say they're up for.

"Here's the thing," explained Stacey. "We're living out our dreams right now. I'm not foolish. I know where this leads. Maybe two of us will come back to venues this size ever again. This may be the last chance I've got to step out in an auditorium and sing, and I'm taking advantage of it. I'm having a blast."

"This whole thing is fantastic," said finalist Chris Sligh, "Every day it just kind of reiterates to me why I got into this in the first place."

Sligh came into Idol with a background in Christian music, and took some heat from conservatives for performing secular music on the show.

"Anybody who knows me for more than fifteen minutes knows that I'm a Christ follower," he explained. "But American Idol's not the place to get up and preach. If you're a Christian plumber, you're not going to preach while you're cleaning a toilet. If you're a Christian lawyer, your opening argument isn't going to start with 'So let me tell you about Jesus.' There's a professionalism to it that gets lost."

One person taking full advantage of the tour is Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, who, at 17 years of age, still requires a guardian to accompany her on the road.

"It's fun to have family with," Sparks said with a huge smile, "because I get to have a little piece of home with me. It sounds horrible, but I'm not homesick. People ask me all the time, 'Can't you wait to get home?' And I say, actually I CAN wait -- I love travelling and I love what I'm doing right now."

Sparks is one of the busiest of all, as her off time is spent laying down tracks for her debut record.

"I got to go in the studio and hear what she's done so far," gushed Doolittle of her friend. "And oh my gosh. Normally in a studio, it's hard to convey your feelings through a song. But this chick? She's like a seasoned pro!"

Arguably the star of the show is a most unlikely fellow -- Sanjaya Malakar. Normally someone who ends up in 7th place on American Idol isn't exactly a mega-star, but unless you live under a rock, you know all about Sanjaya. Whether it was the constant berating of judge Simon Cowell or the constant support from Idol saboteurs like and Howard Stern, Malakar found his name in the press nearly every day -- and not for the best of reasons.

"It's awkward," said Malakar with a grin that was, well, awkward. "People can think what they want to think. I'm just going out there every day and having fun."

All of the finalists are eager to talk about their plans following the tour. On the busses, they've been writing for each other's records. Stacey is prepping a country disc, while Sligh hopes to release an album to appeal to both mainstream and Christian audiences. Idol finalist Gina Glockson is preparing for more than an album - during this week's show in Chicago, she was proposed to onstage by her boyfriend -- and accepted. When I brought up the surprise engagement, Sparks and Doolittle exploded.

"Did you see the ring?" they asked in unison.

"Red with black diamonds! It's really shiny!" added Sparks.

"It's really GINA," Doolittle clarified with a grin.

Like the other finalists, Sanjaya, too, is already looking ahead to the post-Idol future.

"I'm definitely doing an album," he said. "My message is that music is music, regardless of genre. I want to fuse jazz emotion and rock energy with a world music vibe and make it work."

For now, though, first thing's first.

"When this tour is done," said Doolittle, "my immediate plans are to take a nap."

Monday, August 06, 2007

COLUMN: Accessories

I never thought I'd reach a point in my life where I would rather deal with machines instead of people.

I've realized lately, though, that my current preferred mode of shopping is in front of a computer with credit card in hand. No people, no muss, no fuss. There was a time when this was a decidedly anti-Shane way of thinking. Once upon a teenage, I LOVED going to the mall. Walking through those mighty doors with an allowance burning a hole in my pocket was a feeling of genuine empowerment. The world -- or at least the mall -- was my oyster.

But the oyster's gone bad. Nowadays, it's a triumph if I make it out of the mall with my sanity intact. Last week, I wrote about an excursion in search of some replacement undergarments of the hole-free variety. This was a trip born of necessity, as are most of my shopping trips these days. Ergo, to make my future retail nightmares as minimal as possible, I spelunked around the mall that day wondering if I could kill any more birds with this shopping stone.

That's when I remembered: I could stand a new watch and a new wallet. I gulped and headed for one of my least favorite parts of the mall department stores.

You know what I'm talking about -- those glass counters of doom. You female types probably think nothing of it, but for those of us estrogenally-challenged, glass counters are unnatural places. Usually the only items guys buy out of a glass case are either (a) weapons, or (b) valuable and important baseball cards. In a department store, I don't even know what the glass-case-area is actually called -- Accessories? Jewelry? The Wayward Home for Over-Achieving Aggressive Salespeople? All I know is that I've now got a few NEW names for the department, but this being a family newspaper, I'll spare those suggestions.
Just walking up to those counters is intimidating enough. First off, from a distance, you have to use your sixth sense to figure out which counter has manly guy stuff and which one has foofy girlie junk. I approached with trepidation and sighed with relief when I spotted guy-sized watches at the far counter. I trotted that-a-way, but I didn't make it that far.

"CANIHELPYOUFINDAFRAGRANCE?" blurted a voice that very well could have been from Mars.

"Eh?" I muttered, desperately attempting to hit the space bar in my brain and turn the babble into words.

It turns out that I had ventured too close to the cologne counter, and I had fallen prey to the tractor beam of the World's Most Overly-Enthusiastic Sales Guy, who now stood alarmingly close, beaming at me with his phony, tooth-filled smile.

"Errr," I barely got out when he cut me off with what would turn out to be the second most ridiculous question I would hear that day:

"Sir, what would you say is your defining scent?"

I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Truth be told, my "defining scent" is probably a mixture of stale air, Tide with Bleach Alternative, Doritos, and -- depending on the state of the litterbox -- perhaps a subtle hint of cat pee. Please, humanity, never define me by a scent. I shrugged and laughed at the inanity of it all. That's when I got to hear the winning most ridiculous question of the day:

"Do you consider yourself a... musky man?"

I started laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. In all of the soul-searching I could possibly do in my entire life, of every moment of personal enlightenment that I could possibly hope to attain, I had better not come to a universal truth that I am a musky man.

"Dude," I attempted to reply between chortles, "I barely consider myself a MAN, let alone a musky one."

I mean, come on, is there ANY word out there grosser than MUSK? Mirriam-Webster tells me that the word musk is derived from the Sanskrit "muska," which, of course, is Sanskrit for TESTICLE. And the definition? "A substance with a penetrating persistent odor obtained from a sac beneath the abdominal skin of the male musk deer."

Sexy, eh? To me, the word musk should only be used by guys who come in their front door every night saying, "Wife, I have returned home with dinner which I have shot and skinned for us all. Now I must go clean the blood from my all-terrain vehicle... but first, come, woman, and smell of my musk!"

Musk is for manly men -- NOT chubby, nerdy, man-boys such as myself. You people can have all the deer sac juice you want. I, meanwhile, have only found 3 colognes in my life that I deem worth wearing. Drakkar, which reminds me of teen dance clubs and bad 80's music; some Estee Lauder stuff called JHL that I only wore at the insistence of my college girlfriend (she found it sexy while I found it not unlike dish soap); and a cologne called BLV For Men that I can usually only find in Chicago.

I made the mistake of asking the guy if they stocked BLV. "It's a blue bottle," I attempted to elaborate. He didn't have BLV, but quickly started pulling out every blue-bottled cologne he had, as though I shopped for scents on the basis of color coordination. Eventually I escaped, but not before I had a pocket full of little cards, each having been spritzed with a different blue-bottled aroma. I swear my pants are still infused with notes of sandalwood and jasmine to this day.

In the meantime, I need to go. I've got to go shopping for a new wallet. On

Friday, August 03, 2007

Leader Party TONITE!

If you're looking for a low-key way to start off your weekend, we're celebrating the kick-off of the new and improved Leader TONIGHT at the River Music Experience, with an early shindig starting tonight at 5 p.m. Some country band will be there (umm, not my doing) and you can meet all the peeps who've worked so hard on the new paper. And you might even get to hang with me if'n you feel like it.

So yeah, start your weekend at the RME then cruise over to Ave. with me at 10:30 to close out your night District-style.


There are, I have found in life, many advantages to being a guy.

Chief among them is man's innate ability to somehow NOT care about fashion. (Unless, of course, aforementioned fashion is attached to a leggy supermodel. Then I might perk up a bit.) A lot of times here at work, my break coincides with a pack of co-workers I like to call the "girl gaggle." And quite often, due to promixity alone, I get to eavesdrop on their conversations. A lot of them go something like this:

"Shoes purses mall money. Prada leather Paris handbag?"
"Necklace! Mall blouse stylist fabulous!"
"Trendy. Shopping bargain, hairdo Chanel, discount Abercrombie!"

Or something like that. Maybe there were some verbs in there somewhere, too, I forget. Point is, to us guys, it's a totally foreign language. How shopping requires planning and forethought, let alone conversation, is beyond me. When I need something, I run out and get it, usually as quickly and affordably as possible. I mean, I'm not so clueless as to just pull whatever off the racks, but I'm certainly not walking needless miles through mall corridors in search of the perfect fashion statement.

This week, though, I was on a mission. A mission, in fact, inspired by my mother. My mom's sagely advice to me upon leaving home always included this gem: "Make sure you don't have holes in your underwear! What if you were in a car wreck and they took you to the ER and had to cut your clothes off?!"

Yes, never mind the fact that there might be a steering wheel sticking out of my spleen, surely the doctors and nurses would allow me to perish in favor of gathering around to mock and point at my worn britches. Still, advice is advice, and when I took my laundry out of the hamper last week and saw a couple of those dreaded holes, it was time for action.

That explains why I found myself inside the mall store that fittingly rhymes with "Bonkers" last week, perusing a wall of skivvies while desperately attempting to remember my waist size. That was when I saw them. A product that had never registered on my radar: designer undies for men. Calvin Klein, in fact.

"Ooh," said my brain, "I'll look just like Marky Mark." I mean, each pair was individually boxed, so they MUST be something special, right? So on a lark, in addition to the pack of cheap ones I found, I brought home one pair of Calvin Klein briefs.

I threw everything into the wash and tried them on the very next morning. For the amount of money they cost, I was expecting to feel like my southern hemisphere was being hugged by an angel. No dice - they felt like any ol' pair of britches. Still, I walked around that day like a king. I might be your run-of-the-mill nerd, but little did everyone know that underneath, I was, quite literally, Mr. Fancy-Pants.

Until that afternoon. It was a busy day at work and I had been running all over the office when I felt the, err, call of nature, shall we say. I had a spare second, so I ducked into the restroom. Now, another advantage to being a guy is that we can accomplish this task from the standing position, so I sidled on up to do my business... but... umm...

"What the...?" I said under my breath. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong. That's when it dawned on me -- my new undies were of the NON-fly variety. Now call me sheltered or stupid if you'd like, but in 36 years of living, I had somehow managed to never run into this problem before. I was in a rush and had no time to dally about with my dilemma, so I did what comes naturally: I giggled, backed away, and walked away like a fool, mission most definitely unaccomplished.

This wouldn't be particularly noteworthy were it not for the fact that said restroom was teeming with co-workers at that moment. Co-workers who just watched me walk in, examine my nether-region, say "What the...?", GIGGLE, and leave. This is decidedly NOT the way to make a good impression at work, unless your place of employment is perhaps Neverland Ranch.

The moral of the story is simple: For the amount of money I paid for these fancy duds, the very least I expected was, oh, FUNCTIONALITY. Even though I despise supporting them for their inane TV ads alone, a cheap pair of Fruit of the Looms would never cause me technical difficulties in a moment of need.

You girls out there can have your high fashion -- I'm done with it. There will be no Parisian catwalks in THIS nerd's future. Still, I can now appreciate better the sacrifice those of you obsessed with pret-a-porter make for those of us whose job is to sit in the waiting chairs at boutiques and go, "That one looks nice, too, honey."