My Ovechkin Story

Alex Ovechkin was one of the most outgoing of the Russians. He always said hello with a crooked smile and asked about me and my Easton equipment. He was known to dress a bit garishly, when not in the NHL mandated travel suit and tie, and caught some flak from his mates because of it: His white apres-ski boots and fur coat ensemble were a highlight.

Beyond the big personality, he was a considerate guy. I witnessed this a few times. I was there late after practice one day helping assemble some of our new helmets with shields and team logos, and someone comes in and says “Ovy bought lunch.” We walked into the team lounge area, with couches and TV’s and Ping-Pong tables, and there was a spread of Sushi and Asian foods that could feed three teams. Apparently, he gave his black Amex card to someone and told them to get something good to eat.

Another time, I walk into practice early, and Ovy is being measured in the hall by a small Frenchman. This was his suit guy. Yes, the guy would fly in to tailor Ovy. I didn’t get a price, but I imagine it was high. With the little fellow down around Ovy’s crotch area, a low-level assistant coach walked by: “Get a room,” the assistant coach joked. Ovy laughed and called him over. “You want a suit?” he asks. The lower-level assistants weren’t paid too much, and did the job more for the experience and the love of the game. The guy probably only had a couple of Men’s Warehouse specials.

“No, I’m okay,” said the assistant, looking at the garishly colored pin-striped number that Ovy was being fitted for. “You need a suit!” Ovy declared. “Okay, okay, as long as it’s not in that ugly pin-stripe,” joked the assistant.

Just like the suit maker, when Ovechkin asked us to make some custom sticks for him, we tailored them to his specific taste, and we hand-delivered them. For most players we’d make two sample sticks, and not always hand-deliver. For Ovechkin we did six, and two of us hand-delivered them.

My plant boss, Mac, and I arrived the evening before and sat down to dinner. We had steak and a bottle of good wine as a kind of pre-celebration. “Do you realize how big this is?” said Mac. “If we can get Ovechkin to like our stick enough that he drops his contract with CCM…. Huge.” This was potentially so big, we didn’t even have to share a hotel room to cut expenses.

That night, from the towel-dimmed light of my hotel room desk, I emailed the Capitals equipment manager Brock, just to reconfirm that the eagle had landed and we would see them in the morning.

We got a few looks, lugging the six sticks across the hotel lobby in the bulky long bag out to our cab. The driver reached down to help with the bag, but Mac held it tight. “This stays with me,” he said, fearful the cabbie might slam a trunk on them. Mac put the stick bag through the middle of the cab and we made our way to the rink.

Once there, we waited impatiently for the players to roll in. We were just inside the rope, where autograph-seekers stood to get a quick look at their heroes. Suddenly, people started shouting; “Ovy, Ovy!” He smiled at us before going over to engage with his fans.

Walking back toward the locker room, he brought us with him. “So, what you got?” he asked. Mac opened the bag and proudly pulled out the black, silver and blue Easton S17 sticks. “Now, the colors can obviously be changed to whatever you want,” said Mac, knowing we were in red, white and blue territory here. “I’m not worried about that,” said Ovechkin. “I just want to see how they play.” As he twirled the blade in the air and took it to the ground to feel the flex on the shaft, there was a slight cracking sound. He looked up at us with a raised eyebrow. “Just the materials settling,” Mac quickly affirmed.

About a half-hour later, Mac and I stood along the boards and watched as Ovechkin took the ice with our stick. After some warm-ups, the team got into a passing and shooting drill: A line of players in each corner; one corner guy skates around past the blue line and comes back in to catch a pass from the opposite corner guy and shoots on the goalie.

Ovechkin’s turn, and he swoops around, grabs a quick pass from the corner, flicks his wrists to take a snapshot… and breaks the Plexiglass behind the goaltender’s head. Mac and I looked at each other and high-fived. We couldn’t believe it. I mean, the power our stick had in Ovy’s hands was out of this world. The shot was from almost 60 feet away. And a snapshot to boot!

For the next 15 minutes or so, we watched as Ovy tried to control the puck better. He bobbled a few passes, but hey, he bobbled passes with his CCM stick too—it was his shot that was his money-maker. A few minutes later, he put the Easton stick down and grabbed one of his old CCM’s…. And that was it.

“We made him a Ferrari and he wanted a BMW,” Mac analogized later over beers. “Well, can we soften it up a little, make him a hybrid of the two?” I asked. “Even if we did Kirky, you usually only get one chance with these guys.”

And he was right. The only thing I got out of the whole ordeal was an Ovechkin custom sample stick for myself, and a story to tell.



Call Me Ishmael

When I was a pro hockey rep, there was always one player on each team that was a whale. If you could lure that whale in and get him to use your product, you could live off of that for a good long time.

Ilya Kovalchuk was my whale on the Atlanta Thrashers… a Russian white beluga whale; very elusive.

I’d tried to spark up a conversation or two with this whale on many occasion, but he was either being paid handsomely to use the competitor’s product, didn’t like me, was too full of himself to give me the time of day, or didn’t understand English as well as I thought.

Easton however had supplied me with some really good bait, and after dangling it in front of a few other fish on the team, I got a bite from my whale Ilya. These were our newest S17 sticks: light as a feather, and as responsive and powerful as a pistol.

Ilya handed me one of his current sticks to match. I looked at the banana curve and thought “how is this thing even legal?” Sticks can only be curved to a certain degree, and if found to be too extreme, can be illegal. I found out later from my plant manager that Ilya got around this rule by putting a slight indention in the heel of his blade, right where a referee’s tool would sit to check for an illegal curve. The indention would make the tool read a slightly smaller curve than was actually there. A Russian bent of the rules, but if that’s what he wanted, that’s what we’d make.

I received a batch of 12 sticks from my plant: 6 of the explosive new S17’s and 6 of our more mainstream and softer Synergy models. We’d been burned by only making S17’s for another Russian beluga named Ovechkin, and he couldn’t seem to handle the puck with it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the softer Synergy as a backup on that fishing expedition, and we lost our catch.

I drove across Atlanta with my precious cargo of sticks that morning, looking over at ladies applying makeup in their sun-visor mirrors, and guys fixing their ties. How many of these folks even knew who Ilya Kovalchuk was, or cared for that matter, I thought? But this was an exciting day on the job for me.

My whale was being extra elusive that morning and made me wait until the end of practice before trying the sticks. Everyone else was off the ice and it was just him and me. I wish I had my skates on, but alas I was shoe-bound.

He took a few shots with the S17, then asked me to give him some passes… in my shoes. He then tried the Synergy. He seemed to be pleased, but his was a hard demeanor to read.

The team had a home game that night. I didn’t go, but I got the play-by-play from the team’s equipment manager the next day. Apparently, Ilya tried to use the softer Synergy for regular game play, and the explosive S17 on power plays. This was not a normal thing to do, especially with such different-playing sticks.

Well Ilya was on a power play and wound up to take one of his signature one-timers, a slapshot taken right off a pass, and he totally whiffed. He missed the puck like a beginning golfer misses the ball.

I lost my white whale quicker than you could say Ishmael.


Thank You For Being My Friend

Pro hockey players are tough but they can also be respectful, thoughtful and well… goofy.

I was trying to get one of my Carolina Hurricane’s into Easton gloves. He was a foreign-born player, someone the flamboyant-suit-wearing Don Cherry might have called “sweetie” for wearing a visor on his helmet, or “soft” simply for being from Europe, or even worse back when the airwaves were less politically correct.

This particular player was intense on the ice, easygoing off, had a nice flow of hair going, and some really good stats. So good, that he was going to the Olympics to represent his home country that season. He was already using our stick, so the gloves seemed like a no-brainer.

I brought some examples of the softest gloves I had and got this guy to try them on. He liked the softness, but was correctly concerned about the protection factor: the softer the glove, the less protection it inherently has. You soften a side pad or take it out altogether, and sure, it feels a lot more comfortable, but it also hurts a lot more when you’re whacked by a goon’s stick or hit by a hundred-mile-per-hour slapshot. It could even lead to unnecessary injury.

So I told him we’d go back to the drawing board and I’d call him when we had a workable sample. He gave me his cell phone number, which wasn’t always given in this business. Some guys protected their privacy more than others. I never had Ilya Kovalchuk’s cell phone number for example, even though he had me get sticks and skates made for him. Instead, I’d get calls from his teammate Slava Kozlov or a relative of his on his behalf. It was kinda’ strange.

But most players were not like that. In fact, when my Carolina Hurricane’s new gloves were finished and sent to my house to be hand-delivered by me to Raleigh, I dialed this guy’s cell number and I got his voice mail. It said: “Thank you for being my friend! Please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

I thought the outgoing message was so nice (and goofy), I redialed it and played it for my wife. “Wow,” she said with a chuckle, “I like that guy.”

I never got his glove business, but I did gain respect for this player.



I’d been getting regular weekend calls from a number marked “private.” Before this job, I wouldn’t pick up anonymous calls, but now I did, since 9 out of 10 times it was one of my pro hockey players needing something: “I need a bigger toe-curve;” “I need more flex;” “I need new golf clubs;” “I need a flat screen TV for my vacation home…” Yeah, I was the guy they called for all that, and more.

But these calls were legit. Martin St. Louis was still having stick issues, and he was one of my most important players. He felt like his sticks were too stiff, but he didn’t want to go down a flex.

The stiffness of a stick correlates to a number, for example a 90 flex is more stiff than an 85. What most players don’t know is that there can be slight differences between one 90 flex and another 90 flex, even within the same batch of sticks. This is due to manufacturing tolerances. Meaning, if a stick is within a 5-point tolerance of a 90, then it’s called a 90, even if it’s really closer to an 85.

For pro sticks, Easton didn’t even print the flex on the shaft, like you’d see in a store. The reason was they didn’t want a competing company to grab a famous player’s stick and simply have all the specs spelled out for them to copy. So Easton came up with a letter/number combo that only the reps like myself were supposed to know how to decipher.

All that said, we were in a bind with Marty, because he was asking for something that couldn’t be delivered… or shall I say, could, but with too much wasted materials and manpower- even for a player of his caliber. What he was asking for was basically to make our manufacturing tolerances tighter than a Brodeur five-hole (that’s hockey-speak for the spot between a goalie’s legs, and Brodeur rarely let one slip through the five-hole).

We decided to just give Marty a lower flex stick without telling him, just to see how he liked it, since the numbers weren’t on the sticks anyway. Well, you know the way a small lie can whiplash into a bigger problem?

Marty started asking about the letter/number combos on his sticks, and started comparing his old ones to the new ones. Before you knew it, I was scrambling to come up with an answer that made sense. Finally, I decided that just coming clean was the best solution.

We agreed that Easton would deliver sticks in the lower third of his usual flex to make him happy… but there was still this little thing with his curve that he wanted to fix, and maybe I could get his kids some Easton stuff…


If The Stick Ain’t Broke

Steel blades cut through ice. Carbon boot fibers groaned. Sticks tic-tac-toed pucks before firing with the accuracy of army snipers. These were the sounds from my “office,” which on this day was the Tampa Bay Lightning home rink.

I watched as one of my pro players Marty St. Louis went through drills. He was one of the most agile players in the league. He could stop on a dime, and turn on a Bluenose (that’s the racing schooner on the back of a Canadian dime, eh). I saw him take a shot and hoped that this time we got his sticks just the way he liked them.

My first big task as a pro hockey rep with Easton was to try to get Marty to change the color of his sticks. Sounds easy, right? Well you try telling a guy who’s in the top tier of all-time points to change even an undergarment, much less his sticks.

Easton hockey didn’t do commercials or print ads, they spent their money trying to get the pros to use their product. Every time a pro hockey player with an Easton stick scored a goal and raised that stick in the air, it was a “free” commercial or print ad. It helped when the stick being raised was one currently for sale at your local store.

Marty had been using a stick that we stopped selling about 5 years prior: besides the old model graphics, it was a canary yellow color that no one else in the pros was using. Our pro plant in Mexico had to order this color just for him.

For the retail market, Easton changed their sticks every year: names, colors, graphics, engineering. For the pros, they preferred them to be up-to-date, but would often put new colors and graphics on an old model stick for guys that refused to try a new model.

I couldn’t talk Marty into the blue or red options we had that year, even though the blue was a good match with his team colors, so I went for a graphic change. At least the stick will look like a newer model on the outside, I thought. “But same yellow, yeah?” asked Marty. “Same yellow,” I promised as I wondered what curse words my plant manager would offer for this bit of news.

Upon receipt, Marty noticed a part of the new graphic, just a few inches in length, that was looking up at him from the top side of the new sticks. He said it might be a problem but he’d try them anyway. He was a good sport- so much so that I think he won the Lady Bing Trophy more than once.

The Lady Bing is not, as it may sound, a trophy for the best cross-dressing Bing Crosby impersonator. No, this is a trophy for the player with the most sportsmanlike conduct throughout the season. Not an easy thing to accomplish, keeping your cool, when you’ve got sticks, and shoulders, and sometimes fists coming at you. Especially for someone like Marty, who was one of the shortest guys in the league, and probably took more elbows than shoulders.

He came off the ice frustrated. The new graphic was too much of a distraction for him, and now he felt like the flex was off, and the curve needed to be bigger…. I could hear the curse words from my plant manager all the way in Mexico.


The Screaming E

Easton was a family-started and family-run business until the patriarch Jim Easton got too old to run the place like he wanted. This happened about three years into my dream job and Easton was sold to a private equity group: notorious bean-counters, who care nothing about the integrity, personality, history or vibe of a place.

The first real sign of trouble was the call I got from my good friend and Easton Hockey President, Ned Goldsmith, who told me he was moving on. “Fired?” I asked incredulously. I mean, this guy had taken the company into the stratosphere with his carbon sticks. “Transitioning,” Ned said, in his best C-suite verbiage. “How about us reps?” I asked him, expecting the worst. “You’re probably the last thing on their mind for the moment,” he replied.

And he was right… about the ‘for the moment part’ anyway. A few months later my boss, our sales manager, was let go. Then the bean-counters introduced a new logo that they thought would redefine Easton for a younger generation- they called it the Screaming E. It was an E that had been torn apart (kind of like what they were doing to the company itself). I was officially nervous.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta news media started rumbling about a disagreement between the multiple owners of my home team, the Atlanta Thrashers. This group also owned the struggling Atlanta Hawks basketball team and the arena that both teams played in. The ownership group was called The Atlanta Spirit, but the only spirit they had was for themselves and their respective lawyers, not for Atlanta.

This was the second NHL franchise in this city. The first was a failed experiment in southern hockey that drew okay crowds, but more for the fights than the hockey, especially when the team missed multiple playoffs. The irony was that Atlanta GM Cliff Fletcher was left in charge of the club when they moved to Calgary and won a Stanley Cup there some 10 years later with the Calgary Flames.

The Thrashers weren’t the only team in trouble at that time. One of my other teams, the Florida Panthers, were drawing abysmal crowds and rumored to be on the block. And the Phoenix Coyotes were reluctantly being run by the NHL after the club had gone bankrupt.

One night, after the Thrashers left and my job was officially over, I had a dream. In that dream, the Phoenix Coyotes were brought to Atlanta and renamed the Atlanta Phoenix! Rising from the ashes of the Flames. Harkening back to the rebuilding of the city after it was torched in the Civil War.

If I only knew a few billionaires, maybe I could have persuaded one of them. Hey Bruno Mars, you there yet?!


The Life of a Pro Sports Rep – Chapter 7

My wife had never been to a hockey game before she met me. The physicality and finesse, yin and yang of the game, was not something she fully understood… Until she met Chris Thorburn. Chris was an aw-shucks kind of guy off the ice, but all business on the ice.

I was having a hard time getting Chris into our new skates- the ones that were breaking- so I invited him over. Chris came into our home and immediately pointed upward, nudging his wife: “Isn’t that our chandelier, honey?” My wife, the decorator extraordinaire, liked this guy already. And his wife was a farm-girl, so Alex and her could talk horses and chickens, and such; which Alex loves. We had cocktails and snacks at our house and a nice dinner out– on Easton of course.

That same week I was watching a game to see who was or wasn’t using my equipment, and Alex sat down to watch. This was new. She usually wasn’t that interested. “What number is Chris?” she asked. “23,” I said, “but he hasn’t been playing too much.” Suddenly, Chris came on the ice and Alex cheered, but just as suddenly, he got into a fight with a guy on the other team. Alex was shocked. “That’s not the Chris I know,” she said. I almost had Alex hooked as a hockey fan, but alas.

It was even worse the following year when we were in Tampa for a training camp scrimmage, where players on the same team split up and play each other. Not more than five minutes in, as I was still pointing out my guys to Alex, a fight breaks out. “Is this for real?” Alex asked. “I believe so,” I said, as fist hit flesh. “They’re on the same team right?” Alex asked. “Well, technically yes, but that guy doing all the punching is trying to prove himself. He’s on the bubble as they say.” “It looks like he’s breaking whatever bubble he’s on,” Alex retorted. We didn’t stay too much longer.

Alex has a knack for seeing the wrong thing at the right time. I was trying to turn her onto the HBO show “Six Feet Under” years ago. I told her “it’s not all about dead bodies” so she sat down to watch with me. Just then they cut to not only a dead body– but one who died whilst standing up in a limo and hitting a streetlight with his face. Alex never watched that show again.

The tough-guys on each team are surprisingly funny and good-natured off-ice, but do sometimes have a warped sense of what’s important to them. Eric Boulton was a longtime Thrasher tough-guy. A bit of an anomaly to my thinking that these guys had soft hands under their gloves. Eric could catch a cold faster than a pass.

Easton came out with a new helmet my first year on the job, and Eric was one of my first takers. He said he liked how the helmet came to two points in the back. He thought he it might break some of his opponent’s knuckles. I wasn’t sure why he would be backing into a fight, but I was happy to get him into my helmet nonetheless.

The helmet came with its own unique hurdles. Our first batch had blue ink inside that ran when it got wet. We found this out when a key player, who either shaved his head or was bald, took off his helmet after a skate to address the media only to look like the next member of Blue Man Group.

The other, more important issue, was the look. Now, you would think that comfort and safety would be high on the list, but no. The first thing these guys did with our new helmet was walk it into the bathroom for a mirror-check; usually still in their skivvies before a practice, sometimes in nothing but a jock strap. They’d put on the helmet and stand in front of the mirror like a girl would a prom dress, then walk out—helmet still on– to feel the room. Even if it passed their mirror test, they still had to get approval from the other guys.


The Life of a Pro Sports Rep – Chapter 6

My second player phone call came from a guy who’s name I didn’t recognize. Frankly, when I started I didn’t recognize many of the NHL’ers names. I had quit playing hockey years ago—one of the reasons my equipment was so dated—and I was not really up on who was who anymore. “Hey Kirky, this is Sutts. I was hoping you could hook me up?…” I got off the phone a little perplexed. First off, what happened to the ‘y’ or ‘er’ nickname? I couldn’t figure out who I’d just talked to exactly, but he wanted a pink bicycle.

I looked up the Thrashers team roster and found an Andy Sutton. Big defenseman. Now why’d he want a pink bicycle? A little more research and… Oh, okay, it was the leader’s jersey color for the Italian Giro race—like the Tour de France’s yellow jersey. So no big deal, I thought, Easton has a bike division, I’ll just call them to get a bike sent over. The big deal was that this particular bike cost about $5,000 without the wheels. The wheels were another $2,000.

“Maybe he’s just testing you?” my boss said, while he checked Sutton’s stats. “I mean this guy is big, but his stats are so-so. What’s his pull in the locker room—that’s what you need to figure out.” So now we were judging the guy’s talent and his personality, I thought.

I hadn’t been in this locker room enough yet to know who had pull with the other players enough to convince them to use Easton equipment, and who was just pulling my leg to get free stuff. We ended up getting the guy his pink bicycle, then a few weeks later he was traded out of my territory to the New York Islanders. I’m sure his pink bike was the talk of the team.


The Life of a Pro Sports Rep – Chapter 5

My first national sales meeting was at the Marriott Desert Springs—one of those oasis-like golf course properties near Palm Springs. I walked into a giant lobby with floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering views of the pools, golf course, and mountains in the distance. I got my room key from a young lady at the front desk who failed to tell me I had a roommate.

I entered the room, turned down the AC and took my pants off to cool down. Not long after, in walks Janny. I guess he was used to seeing men in their drawers because he just introduced himself with a handshake and went about his business. He was older than me with graying temples. Maybe they roomed him with me on purpose I thought, so he could teach the rookie a lesson or two.

I was putting on my pants when I noticed him pull a wrench out of his bag and walk into the bathroom. I heard some grunts and other loud noises. I winced as I tried to imagine what was going on in there. Maybe the guy got hit with a puck in his beer-league game the night before and a tooth was still loose and he was just finishing the job? Or worse, some kind of bowel issue. A minute later, he emerged with a piece of small plastic in his hand. “What the hell’s that?” I asked. “I just upgraded our shower,” he said with a grin as he held up the showerhead flow-restrictor. Lesson one learned: Always travel with a set of pliers.

These annual meetings were a big rah-rah session where managers got up and announced Best Rep awards, and product specialists touted the next big thing. This was a tough one, since the industry had already had its big renewal with the advent of Ned’s one-piece carbon composite stick that revolutionized the sport. Everything following was just a twist on that. The pressure everyone felt to grow business, please customers and maintain a personal life was enormous. After-hours drinking was a way to release some of that pressure.

“Don’t say your room number too loudly when getting drinks, or give it out to anyone,” Janny warned me. “Last time someone heard my room number at one of these things, I got hit with a thousand-dollar bar tab.” “Did you have to pay for that yourself?” “No, but it came off my expense budget, so I had less to spend for the year. And you need all you can get for this job.”

As I approached the bar, my manager was off in a corner arguing with someone on his phone. He hung up and nodded for me to come over. “You and Janny getting along?” he asked. “He’s already seen me in my underwear,” I said. “What’s your room number- I’m going to fuck with him and put all the drinks on his tab.” I looked over at Janny. What could I do? I mean this was my boss asking. “412, but I didn’t tell you that.”

The bill was easily a thousand-dollars. I laid awake later and not just from Janny’s incessant drunken snoring in the next bed over: I was hoping I wasn’t going to get dinged for the bar tab since I checked in first.

I tried to make some noise to get Janny to roll over, but nothing seemed to work. I had to break out the white noise maker my wife had thankfully thrown in my suitcase: One of those things, pre cellphone app, that made a constant shhhh sound. It blocked out most outside noises, but didn’t quite cover up the Husqvarna-like sawing in the bed two feet away from me.

Surprisingly, some of the players had not caught on to this device. A few months later I was having lunch with Pascal Dupuis and his teammate Chris Thorburn. Pascal was looking tired because he hadn’t slept a wink at the hotel the night before. “Where were you staying?” I asked. “The Ritz!” he said, suggesting a place like the Ritz should be quiet. I agreed, but told him about the white noise maker. “White noise?” Pascal said in his French Canadian accent. “Yeah, it’s like a constant sound.” “Kinda’ like Thorby’s snoring.” he joked about his travel roomie. “But you want it to be monotone,” I said, “with no breaks in it, otherwise, you’re sitting there waiting for the break.” “Ah, like Thorby’s farts!” joked Pascal.

I’m not sure about other sports, but in hockey these million-dollar athletes shared rooms most of the time, just like us. Money saving, yeah, team-building more so. I didn’t tell Pascal about the wrench trick—probably not a good thing for a high-profile athlete to get caught reworking the plumbing at the Ritz.






The Life of a Pro Sports Rep – Chapter 4

Teams buy the player’s equipment for them, but the equipment managers can hold sway on some of these purchases. It also depends who the player is: if it’s a star like Alex Ovechkin, he gets whatever he wants, a 4th liner not so much. They also have to purchase the undergarments, which for one equipment manager back in the day became a problem.

The story goes that this particular equipment manager was brought into the executive offices of his team. They had a new accountant who was gung-ho on saving the team money, but obviously didn’t know much about hockey.

“There are some questionable charges on here that I’d like to discuss with you,” said the accountant. “Fire away,” said the equipment manager. “Well, I’m not quite sure how to say this, but what kind of hooker needs a $1,000 garter belt?” “Huh?” said the equipment manager. Then he realized what was going on. “No, no, no, those are multiple garter belts for the guys.” The accountant looked even more confused, so the equipment manager tried to explain: “Hockey players wear garter belts…”  “Look,” the accountant interrupted, “whatever kinky stuff you guys are into, I don’t want to know. Just keep it off the team ledger, okay.”

The equipment manager had to go all the way to the locker room and get a player’s garter belt and socks. He brought them up to the accountant’s office and put them on over his jeans to show him how a hockey garter belt held up a hockey sock.

These days, the guys tend to go more with a Velcro compression short to hold up their socks, but some still use the good old garter. So if you hear a male hockey player talking about garter belts, don’t assume they’re kinky; they might just be old-school.