The Scrolling Belt BUckle
SInce the dawn of History, men have looked in shame upon their dulle, lifeless belt buckles and seethed, "There's got to be a better way!" Greece's blind bard rhapsozied about "Aias, bulwark of the Acheans, second ony to Achilles in battle" who "beseeched Lord Zeus to gird his loins with fire and motion." Some scholars claim Aias's later madness was caused by his loss of Achilles's armor' others point to his lack of a scrolling LED belt buckle. Who can say? History's most famous scrolling belt buckle belonged to physicist Robert Oppenheimer. A two-story contraction of vacuum tubes and generators it famously scrolled, "I am become Death, destroyer of worlds," after the first atomic bomb test. That hubris earned Oppenheimer the label "a bit of a douce" from his Manhattan Project colleages and began the Cold War. -
But with the LED scrolling belt buckle no longer a sci-fi dream available only to well-placed government eggheads, does it live up to our wildest, brightest, and most scrolling dreams? We decided to find out.
Location: Earnest McFeelington’s, your hometown Irish-hipster bar.
Belt Buckle Message: “My lyrics speak for me.” Being sensitive is not a crime. (Also the name of my myspace blog.)
Choice conversation: A ten-minute chat with the proprietor, during which I realize not even the scrolling belt buckle can sustain this conversation.
I own this room. Onstage, a violin-playing Weezergirl smiles at me. Be still, my heart. Then the belt goes dark. I fumble with it, trying to coax it into performing, while telling myself that this happens to other guys all the time. But does it? I must ask Men’s Journal. Later, my belt also malfunctions. My confidence is a small dog with great big round eyes, locked in the car on an August afternoon. And the windows are up.
Location: Right Up Your Alley, where men go to be men, with men.
Belt Buckle Message: “Bottom’s Up!” Women love a hearty, enthusiastic drunkard.
Choice conversation: “Hey fellas, how about the fortunes of our local sports organization? Eh?”
Entering Right Up Your Alley is like getting a milky white blast of testosterone in your face. It’s the most outwardly masculine bar I’ve ever visited, for some reason reminding me of Queensland, an Anglophile theme bar I used to frequent. I’d expected a bowling theme and lots of sassy, down-to-earth females, but despite the well-designed interior and “Cowboy Night” specials, I spot few prospects, and when I order my usual – a Thai Ladyboy – I receive only a blank stare. To greener pastures!
Location: Spagé Nightclub, where the women dress too skimpily for the weather, buy overpriced drinks, and are ignored by the men who have eyes only for SportsCenter. (P.S.: Here they have TiVo, and SportsCenter never ends.)
Belt Buckle Message: “My other belt buckle is a Lexus.” Pithy = good, and as the FTC has ruled many a time, there’s such a thing as too little truth in advertising.
Choice conversation: Cute girl in black: “No, no, I’m looking at your belt. That’s cute!” The guy next to me moves 20 feet away, intimidated. Also Dude on Cell Phone: “I’ll meet you at the other side of the bar! I’m wearing my blazer!”
After two hours in Spagé discussing mergers and acquisitions, I reek of affluence. Time to hit the strip club.
Location: Fritz’s Kitty-Kat Korner, a Teutonic cabaret of ladyflesh. By the way, we have ESPN.
Belt Buckle Message: “Lap Dances $5,” because “strippers love to haggle.” (Encyclopedia Britannica) Later changed to “Mustache Rides $5,” which I drunkenly realize makes no sense because I’m not wearing my fake mustache and never learned to read.
Choice conversation: Stripper: “Is that ‘Stephen’ with a ‘v’ or a ‘ph’?” Is that “Jasmine” with a “j” or a “g”?
Despite the buckle’s +12 Charisma, my bathing suit area is the least interesting one on display, leaving me to ponder some questions: Am I really discussing the social ramifications of ubiquitous artificial intelligence while two women finger-paint one another in front of me? Will machines one day replace us? Is there anything sexy about stripping to The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” which is about IRA bombings?
Answers: 1. Yes. 2. Yes. 3. No. Just...no.
Unsure exactly when I blacked out...
Wake up at the crack of noon to hit Office Barnyard. Belt reads, “I’m not going to pay a lot for these jumbo paperclips,” and when I ask the associate
if they still have those I/O Magic Dual-Layer DVD burners on sale, she looks at my waist and shakes her head with a sigh. Somehow, this seems fitting.