“He Got This Far-Off, Wistful Look in His Eyes”
Holy Grails: We know so little about them. As regular readers will recall, we know that an HG is an article of clothing that consistently garners special, sexy attention for its wearer when she or he appears in public. We know that many people possess such items (although, Lord knows, not all of us), and we know that these auspicious garments have helped to get their wearers laid on multiple occasions. But where do Holy Grails come from? How do they work, and why do they work? Are the properties of the HG intrinsic to the object itself, or do they result from an increased sense of confidence on the part of the subject? A cynical person would probably claim that they’re like those “lucky socks” or whatever that athletes wear, and only work because they make you feel special; but literally no one really knows the answers to these question.
Look, people, here’s the truth: My methodology isn’t really very scientific. This clothes thing is a new field of endeavor, like biology was in the nineteenth century, and if I were a Victorian naturalist, I would get the information I needed by going into the field and recording thousands of specimens. I haven’t been doing that, because I don’t have the resources. I’m not a Charles Darwin or an Alfred Wallace, and I can’t be travelling to Peru or whatever, notebook in hand, hunting down obscure varietals of ass-flattering trousers. Instead I rely on people sending me e-mails that might provide key evidence.
It is lucky, then, that just when I was wondering about Holy Grails, I got this e-mail from “Agatha,” who wrote me on Christmas Eve. She prefaces her remarks by explaining that “I’m a little hung over… I’m about to endure my very large family for entirely too long and it’s still too early to start drinking again.”
Agatha is in her 20’s and lives in a small town (“Possum Flats”) in Delaware. She says that “I have these cowboy boots that were given to me by my now ex-fiancé.” He gave them as a birthday present because she “had been thinking about buying a pair, but my work situation was ridiculous and I couldn’t find the time to shoe shop.” She has since left the job, which “was sucking my soul dry,” and the man, who “turned out to be a giant ass.” But the boots remain. “It’s starting to occur to me that they are my holy grail. Any time I wear them out, it’s pretty much guaranteed that some man will look down, comment on them and then get this wistful far-off look for a moment. I couldn’t figure out the look until last week.”
On the night she’s referring to, Agatha went to a bar in Possum Flats to exchange Christmas gifts with a friend. She went out “wearing the first clean clothes I came by, a beige and brown striped thermal shirt from the Gap (big beige stripes, little brown stripes and it buttons a little), a pair of dark brown cords I’ve had for so long I don’t know where I bought them (these pants are great because my ass looks great in them, but they’re still really comfortable!), and of course, the boots.”
They “conferred with each other and decided we could still drink and not be scumbags the next day at work. Leaving with the new guy friends, I hung back a little with the one I’d been flirting with (kinda looks like the guy from the Verizon commercials, but in a cute way) and in the hallway of the bar, we start making out. Big lower lip. Yummy. Out on the sidewalk, all of us freezing, we’re trying to decide where to go. Their place was around the corner, so we walk the three blocks or so laughing drunkenly.”
The scene at “this random house” was as follows: “We’re all sitting around drinking beer and eating cookies. The computer was on playing music from some sort of internet radio thing. I forget what the song was… it was Neil Young. Horizon Moon?? Blue Horizon?? something like that, when all three guys jump up off the couch and take their pants off. They just started dancing around in their boxers. Said something about whenever that song came on, you dance in your undies. We didn’t buy it. There was a cat walking around the apartment that at one point started sucking on my arm. That was weird… there was dancing involved too. Fully dressed though.”
After this night of cat-sucking and erotic dance, who wouldn’t be in the mood for love? Agatha was, it seemed, because “I kinda made the first move. Again… it was weird. I felt like someone else! Me and this guy were sitting on the couch and everyone else was outside smoking. I stood up, grabbed his hand and walked him down the hallway to his room. Pretty clear intentions.”
She adds that she and “‘can you hear me now?’ guy” have been texting, and might see each other again. But the part of the story that’s most important for science is that while they were hooking up, “he asked if I would leave the boots on. (My ah-ha moment with the boots! That’s the look!! Why it took me this long to figure out, is completely beyond me.)” So that’s that. Holy Grails work because they make people picture you fucking them while still wearing them! I like this theory; it could be true, and it has a certain elegant simplicity.
EPILOGUE: “Me and the friend from the bar having been trying to figure out this boot stuff since. She was talking to one of her bosses about the whole thing the next day (Wow, you look really tired… good night?? haha!!… apparently we were out late enough to be scumbags at work the next day). I have never met her boss. I don’t know his name, never seen him, couldn’t point him out if I had to… My friend, saying something about the boots, laughed when her boss got a far-off wistful look and asked what color they were!”