Sunday, October 10, 2010
They have an inventor's fair every year at The Holiday Inn, right across the street from Jack's Diner, just a half-mile off the interstate. On the day of the fair, Jack's is pretty crowded as, apparently, inventing makes a person hungry for sausages and pancakes. Jack says his biggest seller is pigs-in-a-blanket and when the waitresses shout the order into the kitchen, they yell "cozy pigs," which is code for "pigs in a blanket." The regulars all know this and, in a very nonchalant tone, order cozy pigs. This differentiates them from the out-of-towners who aren't aware of the secret code and order pigs-in-a-blanket, not knowing they've just revealed a piece of themselves.
A guy next to me at the counter ordered pigs in a blanket, letting me and everyone within earshot know that he's one of the conventioneers. Then, less than a minute later, he began telling me about his invention, the Beer Can Bra . It's just what it sounds like, a bra made from beer cans. He cobbles them together in his garage. I didn't know this, but according to him, this is the latest thing in recycling, a trend he is spearheading from his van. His full name is William McMoody, and it's William, not Bill. My attempt to be chummy and call him Bill set our relationship back a mostly silent, twelve minutes, peppered by a couple of surly reminders that not even his four ex-wives called him Bill. I put aside the thought of trying out Mac, for fear of a complete breakdown in communication. I suspect he lives up to the moody part of his last name.
After breakfast, my new friend escorted me out to the parking lot to see his wares. The outward appearance of William's rust-pitted Econoline gave no indication that it's owner was about to turn the world of fashion upside down, a really clever disguise that's probably kept curiosity seekers and what William calls "idea stealers" at a distance. He swung open the rear doors and a few empty beer cans rolled out and dropped to the pavement, and after rummaging around in a sea of empties, he emerged with one of his prototypes (that's what the industry calls a practice model). It was a bra, alright, made entirely of precisely-cut Pabst Blue Ribbon cans. The red, white, and blue Pabst logos gave the garment a sort of festive feel.
William is confident the Beer Can Bra will be a big hit with the environmental crowd as long as they don't lie to him about the cup size when ordering. He takes pride in his knowledge of what he calls "the female propensity for vanity," and says they always exaggerate the cup size to impress him. This results in an ill-fitting bra which, in the long run, doesn't benefit anyone. The beauty of the Beer Can Bra, aside from saving valuable natural resources, is that it can double as casual wear; that's how good it looks. One thing, though, the bra comes with a disclaimer stating that it should not be worn to the beach on a sunny day as the aluminum absorbs heat from the sun and can cause serious discomfort. It's OK, though, to wear to the beach on a cloudy day. That is clearly printed on the sales tag as a courtesy to the user.
Here's some other features that are highlighted in the sales flyer:
--On cold winter mornings, the Beer Can Bra can be gently heated with a hair dryer before wearing, making hopping into the bra a cozy experience.
--The bra is very durable and requires only an occasional rinsing and should be left to drip dry. It shouldn't be put in the dryer as this causes unnecessary denting, resulting in a hammered look, suitable only for day wear at the Renaissance Fair.
Perhaps the most unique sales feature is William's personalized warranty. He maintains that for one full year after the purchase date, he (or a qualified technician) will show up anywhere, anytime with his toolbox and make any necessary adjustments. In fact, he offered me a job as a Beer Can Bra tech-trainee, with the possibility of one day becoming a full-fledged tech, handling service calls for the entire Chicago metropolitan area.
I think this guy is onto something, not like the kook at last year's inventor's fair who sold me the Do-It-Yourself Radar Scrambler which was nothing more than a cigar box with little balls of tinfoil rolling around inside, which did not work. The Velcro strips on my dashboard are a constant reminder of the embarrassment the device caused when I presented it to the judge in traffic court. Aside from its unreliability, it is not even a good defense.
For an added hand-wrought touch, William says he personally consumes almost all of the beer in the cans he uses for the manufacturing of his product. He's a real craftsman and stresses that the cans not be dented. If a customer prefers a certain brand, they can donate a six-pack to him and he will take great care while drinking the beverage and use the empties for their personalized foundation garment. It's entirely possible William McMoody may be the next Calvin Klein, and I'm just lucky enough to call him my friend.
William's van is currently parked out in back of my garage until he can track down a certain hard-to-find part for the transmission. For the moment, the van only drives in reverse.
Posted by Dale Wickum at 9:57 PM