The most exciting thing that happened recently in Durham, North Carolina, was the arrival of Al Goldstein, editor of a dirty magazine published in New York.
Goldstein, who has made millions off porn, was there to shed a little excess tonnage on the famous Duke University rice diet. Everyone was impressed by his big, fast car, an Excalibur, and bewildered by his clothes, which were very unusual.
Goldstein wandered around in macho boots and camouflage pants and shirts, a look that evidently is all the rage these days in New York. In Durham no one knew quite what to make of it, since down there people wear these clothes while engaging in an antiquated ritual known as hunting. Goldstein does not look much like a hunter.
He was wearing his attention-getting duds when I happened to see him, and it occurred to me that some people will buy anything, which is how Goldstein got to be rich enough to drive around in that Excalibur in the first place. With this camouflage thing he was treading on one of my special areas of expertise, and I began to understand what folks mean when they say, "Make hay while the sun shines."
I called my wife and we immediately set to work preparing to cash in on Camouflage Chic, which we are assured by the people at the surplus store in Hechinger Plaza is a phenomenon about to burst-full-blown upon the Washington scene.
The point of just about every fad that erupts in a city is to attract attention to whatever sad little soul is engaged in it. The camouflage phenomenon is amusing because the original purpose of camo clothes was to help people blend into their surroundings in the woods. But put them on in Times Square and you stand out like a shade tree in the desert.
Unfortunately, the camouflage-clothes market is pretty well sewn up by the army-navy stores and hip designers, but everyone knows the big money is in accessories, anyway.
Take cars. Americans have always sought to attract attention with their cars. With these dull little gas-savers everyone is buying, now is the perfect time to cash in on automotive Camouflage Chic.
We called Kenneth, the gypsy paint and bodywork man in our neighborhood, and told him to stock up on browns and grays and dead-grass green. We drove the old Aspen over and he set to work. By late afternoon it was complete; the prototype for a fad that simply can't happen fast enough: Camouflage Dodge.
We parked it in front of Au Pied de Cochon in Georgetown with a little sign on it. By nightfall we'd make the price of the paint job by commissions and Kenneth was putting a down payment on a Mercedes.
A few more Saturdays like that and we had a real nest egg. "Making money? Pour it in the business," the experts said.
So we put a down payment on a row of townhouses in a declining neighborhood out by the city line. We went in with a vengeance, gutting every convenience, replacing the bathrooms with a bucket, the central heating with a kerosene space heater and covering the entire structure with dried corn stalks and marsh grasses.
"Camo Condos," said the ad in the Sunday paper. "Be the first in your neighborhood to live in a duck blind." We couldn't convert them fast enough.
Those are the big items in our retail operation, which will soon by operating out of a storefront in White Flint called Camouflage Lodge. We're counting on everyday items to solidify the profits.
The first rolls of our camouflage Christmas wrapping paper are off the presses. Truckloads of Camo tissues and toilet paper are on their way to retail stores throughout the city.
Our advertising department in New York is test-marketing camouflage game-calls for the harried executive.
"Don't shout at your secretary," say the ads. "Next time you're disappointed with an employee's work shake him up. Show him you're a mad tom with our Gobblegobble-gobbler. Let him know you're a disgruntled gander with our Canada honker."
We've also brought a truckload of Uniroyal hip waders.The feet are being stiffened and roller skates added for the newest and most baffling style in roller disco fashions -- The Dull Look. It will sidestep the problem of floor burns and make for more comfortable skating in marshes.
We've visited the major dog-training establishments in the country and bought up at very good prices all the coon dogs, rabbit dogs, bird dogs and retrievers that failed their field tests. These dogs we are trading even up for Lhasa Apsos, chihuahuas, ficus and shi tzus whose elegant owners are delighted at the chance to exchange for something none of their neighbors has.
The exotic breeds we ship down to North Carolina, where no one has heard of them, and where from the very best families they draw a fortune.