As a beloved media personality in the sixth-largest market in the country, I often get invited to this or that society function. I would love to attend them all, because frequently free food is offered. But the great majority of these invitations must be turned down. There’s no quicker way to find oneself starved for invitations than to accept them promiscuously.
So when I was entreated to serve as a sort of shoe salesman at a benefit for the Women’s Museum, I was going to pass—until I saw that Ron Kirk was also scheduled to perform the same role. I accepted because I’ve borne a grudge against the former mayor ever since I mentioned his name in a recent column and he didn’t bother to write me a flattering thank-you note. I figured I would outsell Kirk and write him a note saying, “You sell shoes as well as you run for the Senate.”
The main attraction of the “Wine, Women, and Shoes” gig was a lunch-hour shoe fashion show, with notable local ladies—political consultant Carol Reed, Hughes & Luce partner Kim Askew, etc.—modeling kicks from Stanley Korshak. The men like me who’d been invited, so-called “Sole Men,” were to circulate among the attendees prior to the fashion show, carrying shoes on silver platters.
I arrived at the Women’s Museum wearing the requested Sole Man uniform of black slacks and white shirt. I went with a vintage straight-collar tux shirt that belonged to my grandfather. Very sexy.
Chef Nick Badovinus was there, also serving as a Sole Man, though he opted to work the raffle. Nick has a mane of blond hair so lustrous and touchable that I considered breaking a wine glass and using one of the shards to scalp him so that I could make a toupee. Nick will tell you that the raffle was a huge success, owing to his enthusiasm and unflagging efforts. The truth is, the way he greeted women and told them they looked “fabulous” while caressing their elbows was disrespectful to Susan B. Anthony and everything she represented.
Dallas Morning News sports columnist Tim Cowlishaw was a Sole Man. Not only did he chew gum throughout the event, but he cheated. Tim took his platter of shoes upstairs, where the buffet tables—and most of the women—were. I was under the impression that upstairs was off-limits to Sole Men.
You’ve probably never heard of Rogers Healy, who’s in commercial real estate, or Stefano Secchi, who’s a chef at Ferrari’s. But Rogers stands 6-foot-5 and has clearly had work done on his jaw to get it that square, and Stefano is Sardinian. The two of them should not have been allowed to operate as a tag team.
Then there was State Rep. Rafael Anchía, who violated the Sole Man dress code, wearing a chocolate suit with a pink shirt and pink tie, and who pronounced his own name like he was trying to impress his Spanish teacher: “R-r-raf-AY-el Ansch-EE-ah.” Nor was he shy about his reelection on the Tuesday of that week. When a woman congratulated him for winning 82 percent of the vote, he corrected her: it was actually 83 percent.
Listen, if I had borrowed R-r-raf-AY-el’s chocolate suit and his beauty mole, even I could have beaten Libertarian candidate David Mason. And I could have sold as many shoes as he did. As it was, I’m afraid I wasn’t the most productive Sole Man. Not only did I suffer from the above-mentioned injustices, but the shoes I was given featured a metal heel that looked like a woodworking tool. They seemed to frighten the women. I would say suggestively, “Come on. You know you want to touch it.” But no matter how I cast it, my line seemed to hang up in the weeds.
In the end, I took consolation from two facts: one, I did, in fact, outperform Ron Kirk. Because he failed to show up for his Sole Man shift.
And, two, I wasn’t as humiliated as Toby Shook, who also was a no-show. Behind the catwalk stood a 30-foot bank of video monitors across which played the names of the Sole Men and our affiliations. Toby was identified as the Dallas County district attorney. Three days earlier, of course, voters had given the job to Craig Watkins.
I’m working on my note to Toby right now, telling him we missed him at the Women’s Museum. He’ll love my “shoo-in” pun.