The RompHim Brought Me Joy, Then Sadness

It arrived in a box. Like a child on Christmas morning, I tugged gently at the package, savoring the moment, for I would never be able to return to the time before. But the packing tape stubbornly refused to yield its claim to the treasure within. A vein ticked in my forehead. My heart rate increased, pumping adrenaline-laden blood to my trembling hands. As if in a fever, I tore at the box, plunging my fingers into its sides like a falcon feasting on a field mouse, setting aloft a flurry of cardboard flakes until the box was breached. My pulse settled, the room came back into focus and a choir of angels struck a major chord that swelled from deep within as I beheld my brand new RompHim.

When I first heard tell of the RompHim’s existence, I thought, “My goodness, what a silly thing!”

The name irked me more than the item itself. It’s not as if the popular, warm-weather garment known as a “romper” breaks down syllabically into “romp” and “her.” A romper is a thing that romps, much like a toaster is a thing that toasts. I long for a future where all humans can romp about in cheeky onesies if they so choose; a future with no place for hokey marketing that seeks to reassure fragile men they can enjoy life’s simple pleasures without bursting into flame.

The RompHim wasn’t a “must-have” for me until I stumbled upon this review, posted on notorious conspiracy theorist and walking heart palpitation Alex Jones’ ridiculous YouTube channel:

“And now there is a new affront to good taste and style called the male romper and their campaign to convert Americans. There’s nothing about this new garment that is either fashionable or stylish…it represents the feminization of America. No well-turned-out gentleman would wear anything like this. In fact, to wear this, you’d have to be a real pussy.”

And when I enthusiastically unpacked my jolly Pollocky onesie, I only thought one thing: It’s weird how happy this ridiculous thing is making me.

That morning, I put it on and went to breakfast at a 24-hour diner that has always been there for me, regardless of my conscious state. As I walked through the door, the hostess beelined toward me.

“Would you like to sit outside?”

“Sure, since it’s so nice out.” I moved to sit down at the table right behind me nearest the door.

She clutched the menus more tightly. “Are you sure you don’t want to be on the other side, where it’s cooler?”

“I’ll follow you. I’d hate to overheat,” I replied. She led me to a table by the dumpster.

After that encounter, I was tempted to call the whole thing off. During the stroll back from breakfast, someone leaned out the window of a passing car and shouted, “I love your romper!” This bolstered my resolve. I figured if I were going to make one more public foray, I’d stage a grocery shopping trip and have a buddy snap a few funny pictures of me holding fruit.

But then I learned of a party at a nearby winery. With that, my fate was sealed.

As a security blanket, I brought a backup pair of jeans. If the RompHim got to be too much, I could put them on and then I’d just be wearing a goofy shirt. When we pulled into the parking lot, I saw that the place was packed. I reached for the jeans and a voice thundered in my head: “GO BIG OR GO HOME!”

As soon as I got out of the car, heads turned.

“No way.”

“Oh my God, look at that guy.”

“I’ve never seen one in person!”

A girl immediately requested a photograph. Yeah, sure. Is this how it feels to be famous? Lordy, I hope there aren’t tapes.

Unfortunately, after the car ride I really had to pee. The bathroom was an outdoor port-a-potty situated on the far side of a sizeable crowd. As I walked towards it, I saw people tapping each other’s shoulders and pointing. I felt like a zoo animal.

Peeing was fine, but if I’d had to do anything beyond that, I would have had to get naked in the bathroom. Based upon that, I will say: Ladies, I’m sorry that a lot of the outfits you wear make it so you have to get naked in the bathroom just to relieve yourself.

I exited the port-a-potty like JFK stepping off Air Force One. Some girl cut me off and struck up a forced conversation. I obliged her out of politeness, but each time I made a move to walk away, she sidestepped to block my exit. I was impressed by her persistent yet charmless flirtation until I realized she was trying to stage a candid looking photo-op for her friend’s pointed camera. I eventually escaped.

This was the kind of place where you sit on the ground. I’ve never been good at that, as I’m not very flexible and sitting cross-legged always makes me feel like I have to fart. I kept trying different poses. There I knelt, legs tucked beneath me, constantly fretting about squishing my bits or availing them to peeping Toms. All of my conversations were pretty monochromatic, though my garb was not. Everybody was asking about the RompHim.

“Is he gay?”

“Why is he wearing it?”

“Is it comfortable?”

I became numb to it after about an hour and two glasses of wine, and was able to just enjoy myself for small stretches. I was fine if I stayed in one spot. The most vocal reactions expressed amusement. Most people seemed to get that I was having a gas. Others said things that amounted to (either in tone or in so many words): “Okay, that right there is the last straw. Humanity has no future I want to be a part of.” I get that it was about the RompHim. But it still hurt.

As the afternoon wore on, the place got more crowded and more intoxicated. I started to feel worn down from the amount of human eyes plying me with their judgment. The whole experience was a startling reminder that a group of apes has an acute power to make you feel unwelcome. All I wanted was to rejoin the herd.

I went home and dis-RompHim-ed. I gazed at it, rumpled innocently on the floor, this arrangement of cotton and dye that had so easily defeated me. Maybe one day, I will be strong enough to wear it again.

Brandon Borror-Chappell

Brandon Borror-Chappell

Brandon is a comedian and writer living large in New York City. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Accepts Venmo donations, ignores requests.

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