Monday, May 22, 2006

Name-Brand Underwear Bites

One of the really cool things about living in Israel is that we can buy name-brand underwear for cheap. This is because the underwear is made for export by Israeli companies. Yet there is always surplus, so people can buy all the name-brand underwear they want if they know where to look. The underwear is usually arranged in neat piles on shelves or stored loose in large bins that the customers must look through in order to choose what they want.

Yesterday I was off doing my errands when I spotted a store with a sign that read “Export Surplus.” When I popped in, the shop assistant directed me to a bin with sparkling new name-brand underwear in lovely colors, 100 percent cotton. Yay! Just what I like! My shopping bag got a bit heavier, and my bank account got a bit lighter.

Shortly afterwards, my right hand and forearm began to itch. When I looked down, I saw what looked like a row of mosquito bites dotting my skin. Makes me wonder: could I have paid for all that pretty new name-brand underwear not only with money but also with some blood?

True, I can’t be absolutely certain that I got those bites in the export surplus shop. The critter—whatever it was—could have bitten me in any one of half a dozen places that I went to yesterday. But the bites are only on my right hand, and it was my right hand that I put into the underwear bin at the surplus store. At one point I put my arm inside all the way to the elbow in order to fish out any other colors I might not have seen—and the bites reach to just beneath my elbow.

I’m thinking that the bug in the underwear bin could be a devilishly simple anti-theft device that the owner puts in just before he closes the store. Since I popped in just before closing time, he must have just put it in, and he didn’t have time to whisk it back out before I started going through the bin.

Well, it’s as good an explanation as any.

Or maybe it’s a warning from the Universe not to put my trust in name brands.

Man, those bites really itch. Anybody got some calamine lotion?

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