The Story of Eel Wrangling

Last night at Alcohol Wednesday I shared perhaps one of my all time best stories with Bear and Paivi (Mad had already heard it before).  The events of the story took place a few years back when I was a younger lad (like maybe 19) and all around less sure of myself in the world.  Everything about the occurrence demands remembrance and as such it has become an important part of the greater mythology of Nathaniel Holden Lord (I assume that someday people will read of my life and feats and compare me to somebody like Hercules or at least Theseus).

The story goes something like this . . .

It was the summer after graduation from high school.  My friends and I were all very excited about the fact that in a few months we’d be real college students and free of the control of our parents (this of course this was a somewhat incorrect belief. We did become college students but I think we’ve all since learned that one is never really free of the control of their parents).  So I had a lot of things that I wanted to do before going off in my own direction; you know, hanging out, going to parties, shit like that.  The problem was that all that fun stuff cost money as did going to college and when the summer began I was without employment.  So I had to get myself a job and earn some cash.  I won’t go into all the details about getting the job that I eventually got (it had something to do with cooking a big thing of pasta for one of my friend’s mother) but instead will skip ahead to telling you that I ended up working at a Jockey Underwear Outlet.  Now one may be tempted to think that working at an underwear store is pretty awesome and at first I was very much of this opinion myself, but I tell you now that within a months time I loathed the place (which makes it interesting that I went back to work there over my winter break and also during the following summer).  I am still convinced that Jockey Underwear stole some of my soul while I was employed for it.  To date it is the only job at which I believe I acted like a disgruntled employee (like refusing to help customers, swearing a lot in earshot of little children, purposely mispricing items, and playing hide-n-seek throughout the store with my coworkers Hannah and Jessie). 

One beautiful Saturday I ended up being the only employee working besides my manager and all around this was a terrible thing.  First off my manager was a complete psycho.  She would be acting all sweet and nice and shit like that and then all the sudden she’d go crazy and start throwing stuff around the stock room and screaming all because somebody hadn’t remembered to put out some more t-shirts.  The most disturbing thing about this woman was that she never swore at all even when she was going crazy.  She would yell weird shit like “fiddle sticks” and “goodness gracious” and “drat.”  She scared me and I hated working alone with her.  To further add to my misery was the fact that it was such a beautiful Saturday and I would have much rather  been outside hanging out with friends.  The day was slow and I ended up doing a whole lot of standing around, every once and awhile pretending to rearrange underwear so as not to incite the wrath of my insane manager. 

It must have been a little after noon when the guy walked in.  I remember standing near the front of the store, watching him approach, and thinking to myself, “holy cow, this dude is really going to come in here.”  Now of course there is nothing really all that special about just anybody going into an underwear store on a Saturday but this guy was by no means just anybody.  He was pretty  tall and had a bit of a gut on him and walked like a man who had a plan and was fully intending to carry it out.  He had black hair and a darker skin complexion and if he hadn’t been wearing sunglasses I assume he would have had dark little eyes.  The thing that made this guy stand out more than anything was how he was dressed.  He wore jeans with a cowboy shirt tucked into them and big old cowboy boots and a wide brimmed hat on his head.  But it was more than just wearing cowboy clothing that distinguished his style, it was the absolute decoration of what I can only call “Indian Bling.”  Silver and turquoise all over.  On his belt, on his boots, on his big hat.  He wore rings on every finger and fancy bolo-tie about his neck.  Even the rims of his mirror aviator sunglasses were inlaid with the green stone.  The guy was literally a fucking cowboy/Native American pimp! 

Once I’d gotten over the shock of the dude’s mad style I went up to him and asked him if he needed any help (probably one of the few times while working at Jockey that I actually tried to be helpful to a customer).  The guy looked at me and a big grin came over his face and then he began to speak and a very real Texan accent (I won’t even bother trying to write the accent here seeing as I can’t do it any justice).  He said, “Son, let me tell you what I’m looking for here.  A few years back I bought myself some underwear from a Jockey store and they were the best damn briefs I’ve ever owned.  You see they had this cool little horizontal fly, not a Y-fly that is all confusing to navigate around.  No with this fly you could just reach on down and wrangle the ol’ eel with perfect ease.”  As he said this last part he decided to demonstrate for me the whole eel wrangling process by making a swift downward motion in front of his crotch area with his right hand.  I think my jaw may have dropped.  Did this dude really just describe taking his penis out of his briefs as “wrangle the ol’ eel” and also demonstrate the motion of such an act?  Never in my life have I been as utterly baffled as I was just then.  Somehow I managed to get a hold of myself and force a slight smile.  “Yes sir, we do have those briefs that you are looking for,” I said and proceeded to lead the man to his desired underwear.  He must have really wanted them bad because once he found his waste size he grabbed about every box that we had out.  I rang up his purchase at the register and he thanked me for my help and wished me a good afternoon.  After he exited the store I just stood there and thought, “Was that real?  Did that guy really just come in here, dressed almost in a whole fucking silver mine, and talk to me about eel wangling?”  Everything about it was absurd.  Even now, several years later I can’t believe that such a person existed and that somehow my path crossed with his in a Jockey Underwear Outlet. 

I have no clue where that guy came from or where he went after he left.  He existed in my life for maybe five or ten minutes at most, but everything about him and what he said and did made him probably one of the most memorable people I’ve ever met.  Like I’ve already said, it was absurd, and part of me wants to believe that it had to be some kind of joke.  But what kind joke?  I mean who would even think of that and in what purpose would it be done?  No, it wasn’t a joke, the guy was very real, I guess I don’t doubt that.  Maybe it was that he was so real in his own being that has left me in utter awe of him since that day.  Whatever it was it was strange and funny and just completely unlike anything I had ever experienced or encountered since.  It was some kind of moment, that is about the best I can say.   

Thus concludes the story of eel wrangling.

~ by Nathaniel on January 10, 2008.

One Response to “The Story of Eel Wrangling”

  1. I just laughed my ass off.

    You should write more.

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