Airing our Undies

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In the past we have written of Zapatos,
the funky warehouse shoe and clothing store, featuring seconds, overstock
and, we suspect, the contents of an occasional mysteriously missing
big rig. Name brands at a faction of list price, almost perfect Nikes
and Bass for twenty bucks, hooded sweatshirts with slightly smudged
logos
for
$3,
bins of sneakers sorted only by size.

Owned by a crusty archtype named Eric Schapero, Zapatos
serves mostly Boston’s active Latino population and the homeless-looking
denziens who haunt the projects and alleys around the sprawling Boston
Medical Center. Yesterday, for some reason, we found ourself with our
unmentionables at a stulyfying presentation on an Ugandan Refugee Camp
in a computer lab on the Medical Campus in between the hospital and
the shoe store.

We know that what is happening in Africa at this very
moment is the most tragic affront to human dignity and and the sanctity
of life on the face of this sorry  planet, but we have to confess
to an inability to concentrate on it for more than 45 minutes without
becoming dangerously depressed.

After the presentation ended, we huddled our group
in the grassy green lawn outside the building. Students, professors,
doctors and interns came and went in mufti and scrubs, sandals and
sneakers.  It was a gorgeous day.

We felt the need to shake off the aura of death and
disease that still hung in our minds from the horrifying slide show
we had just seen. "Hey," we offered, "Who wants to go shoe shopping?"
They are, after all, Business Professionals. Don’t ask why we took
a bunch of Business Professionals to the Medical School for a presentation on NGO’s in Ugandan refugee camps.

Their reactions to the Schapero business operation
were mixed. The Europeans, accustomed to shopping for high fashion
in Paris
and
Rome, were almost as horrified by Zapatos as they had been by the refugee
camp. The Asians dove right in, digging for bargains.

We had explained to them that the selection was always
changing, and if you were looking for a specific thing, it was pure
chance whether you would find it. We were looking for a new pair of
Topsiders, for example, but this week they had nary a pair. On the
other hand, when we enter with an open mind, we always find something
we need.

However, on this trip we discovered a new danger in
going the discount route. We ended up buying some new underwear, three
pair for one low price, a major American brand, labeled "Slightly Imperfect"
(see photo). When we got them home, we realized they were straight
out of the Goldilocks catalogue
– one pair was for Papa Bear, one for Mama Bear and one for Baby Bear.
At least, Norma Yvonne says she’ll wear the small ones…..

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