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Back to Harry’s

Ingratiated on June 10, 2007.

On Friday this week, I returned to the asshattery on Wiggensworth Street, intent on buying myself a new hat to replace my old ones: The fez that had worn out, and the homburg that Ravna stole in a vain attempt to placate the gorillas.

Harry Whyte, sole proprietor of Harry’s Asshattery, greeted me cordially as I entered his store. His cordiality at first put me in mind of a certain Grumfeld van der Spooijwanker, so I very nearly slew him with my bare hands, having concluded he must be a Schmongeling Gnome of equal rank. But fortunately, I was quickly gripped in the firm, cold hand of sanity and reason before such an eventitude transpirated.

“Harry! Harry, show me what you’ve got in burnt umber!” I requested in an equally cordial tone. “My old fez wore out—or it was carted away by the gnomes living under my floorboards; I’m not sure which, honestly—and I need a new hat. So I was considering perhaps an asshat, and thought you might have just the thing.”

The salesman’s smile never left his face, even when I brought up the gnomes under my floorboards. If he had so much as blinked, I’d’ve known he was one of ’em—and Harry Whyte would be wearing his own ass for a hat, as sure as my name is Phillip Norbert Årp.

He took me over to a rack of asshats along the back wall. None were burnt umber. There were maroon asshats, crimson asshats, asshats in khaki both light and dark—but no burnt-umber asshats were to be found. He tried to convince me a particular Butt Bros. model was burnt umber, but I saw through the ruse—it was sepia, God damn you—and would have none of it. He got a little less happy at that point, but he was still interested in trying to sell me something.

“Okay, Harry, how about a paisley one? Do you have anything in paisley?” I humored him. No one made paisley asshats anymore, not since the Paisley Suit Riots of ’78. But if he could deliver, I’d buy it. (It was at that moment an army of trilobites passed by outside the window—an ominous sign if there ever was one.)

He grinned broadly and led me toward a door behind the counter. “I’ve been saving these for almost thirty years, Phil! And you’re the first unwitting idi—customer, I mean—to want to buy one in all these years! Just don’t let them say Harry Whyte didn’t try to warn you, if you step outdoors wearing one of these babies!”

“Warn me about what?” I inquired, lithe porcupines at the ready.

“I won’t try to warn you,” he said and left it at that. Then he opened the door.

Paisley asshats. Boxes of paisley asshats as far as the eye could see. He had at least sixty—six hundred—six hundred and sixty six—boxes of paisley asshats in his stockroom, stacked up to the ceiling and in rows five deep. More paisley asshats than you could shake your booty at. More than even little Loquisha could shake her big booty at. “I’ll take forty-five hundred and twenty-two!” I blurted before my mind and larynx registered any sort of connection.

“Sold!” Harry rubbed his hands together at the thought of unloading half a dozen boxes of paisley asshats on an unwitting idi-customer such as myself, whatever that is. Well, I’d told him I’d take 4,522 of them, so I couldn’t rightly back out now, could I? I swallowed, pulled out three dollars from my wallet, paid Harry, and hefted the boxes up on top of my head. I resolved to try to wear all 4,522 asshats—still boxed—at once. The sale completed, Harry shooed me out the door and, as I departed, began cackling madly, “Don’t let ’em say Harry Whyte didn’t try to warn ya! Kiss my hairy white a…”

The rest of his chortling was firmly out of earshot, so I forgot about it at once. I sauntered home, 4,522 paisley asshats now firmly in my possession.