GETTING MORE TALE #774: The Original Mustard Tiger
Gary was a customer of mine after I was transferred to a store on the shittier side of town. It’s not like where I worked before was high class. The new store was in a part of town that, frankly, I never went to when I wasn’t working. There was nothing in that part of town, just the same fast food joints as everywhere else. Not a lot of people with disposable income. The store recently came to an end, to no-one’s surprise. But that was the store that Gary frequented.
I inherited Gary from the previous manager. Since we started carrying DVDs, we acquired a brand new niche clientele: movie and TV fans. They rarely, if ever, bought music. It was a whole new market, and Gary was one of the guys who bought DVDs pretty much exclusively. In particular, he liked TV show season box sets. M*A*S*H*, Gilligan’s Island, the classics. He bought a lot — and returned a lot. He was high maintenance, so not the kind of guy I was really excited to see walk in at any given time. But that’s retail.
What was most memorable to me about Gary was his appearance. Large, bald, and…shall we say, unkempt. The shirt that disgusted me the most was the one that had mustard stains all over the front. Dried mustard on cloth isn’t my thing when it comes to fashion, I guess. And when he talked to me, trapped behind the counter, I could barely take my eyes off it. It was like a car accident — some people can’t help but look. That was me with Gary’s shirt, which didn’t seem to completely cover his skin, by the way. The easiest and most accurate comparison would be the character of Phil Collins on Trailer Park Boys. Gary was taller, but Phil was bald, had a protruding gut, and wore a shirt covered with mustard stains. Phil’s shirt had a picture of a tiger on it, hence his nickname: the Mustard Tiger. Well Gary was the original Mustard Tiger.
I quit the store a couple years later, but life is circular, and that was not the last of the Mustard Tiger. About a decade ago, Jen and I were obligated to go to a wedding. It was one of her bridesmaids tying the knot, the one we referred to as “bridesmaidzilla”. (You can read that story in #559: Hotel Hobbies.) I wasn’t thrilled to be going, and for Jen this was kind of a final obligation before she was able to put some distance between them. They were having a “Hillbilly Wedding”, I believe they billed it. And guess who the best man was?
It was Gary. He traded in the mustard shirt for something clean, with buttons. Adorned atop his bald pate was a 10 gallon cowboy hat. Upon his ample belly, a giant golden country & western belt buckle. It looked like the WCW Championship belt, so huge it seemed.
I’m sure that some of you, if you were in similar circumstances, would walk up to Gary and ask him how he’s been doing. If he even remembered you. I did not do that. When I quit the store, I was bitter and wanted to move on with my life. I didn’t want to talk to Gary and remember all the times he returned some shitty TV show box set. We all make choices, and I chose to pretend that I didn’t remember the Mustard Tiger.