Chandler Parsons fixes his hair in the mirror of the Lacoste store in downtown Houston. He moves each strand with purpose and precision until it is perfectly out of place. This is his best day, his favorite. This is where he comes to remember, and to forget.
The gator of his youth takes him back to a time when fun was easy and the NBA playoffs signaled summer’s coming. The gator was the reason he went to the University of Florida in the first place. To have an opportunity to represent a school that called the gator its mascot…well, when the stars read that true, you do not question the validity of the story written within them.
A young lady, clad in the gator, walks up to him and introduces herself as Amy. She asks if he needs help. He shuts that down. Says he’s just looking. She says that if he needs any help to make sure and let her know. He promises he will.
Private, the reason for this trip is. He has told no one that he is here, having maintained such a level of quiet concerning its goal, it’s a wonder local mutes haven’t been all “Come on, dude. Out with it already.”
In the deepest parts of his mind, he knows he must impress once the playoffs begin. Dudes will come forth in their custom suits and pocket squares and double breasted sports jackets and all will focus too much energy on the happenings within a certain players closet, and not enough on the happenings within the lines.
Knowing this, Parsons will bring with him Lacoste because they bring with them the happiest days and nights. Days at the tennis courts. Days at the mall hanging out in the Champ’s Sports by the Auntie Anne’s. Nights with Ashley Valhalla in her Mitsubishi Montero Sport. Nights at the Cheesecake Factory. It is a crime for an earthly thing to bring about such heavenly thoughts.
His mind is with his past until he sees something that brings it back to the present. A beacon of hope in the midst of the purple and peach and green of the store. Something that doesn’t call, but rather shouts to him.
I am yours and you are mine. Take me. We belong together. Don’t get sidetracked realizing that was a Mariah Carey lyric. Seriously, don’t start singing “We Belong Together”. I’m down here. Yes. Here. Grab me.
The shirt is turquoise and he pulls it from the rack. It is an extra large and it is perfect. It will fit him like he was born in it and he need not try it on. He holds it up to the light. It is ideal for the springtime and he knows now this is his uniform when the questions begin.
Amy walks up to him once more. She tells him that will look great on him. He asks, “Do you think so?”, but knows that she is correct. This will look great on me, he thinks. He holds the shirt up once more to his chest. He runs his eyes along the outline of the gator. He is home.
The press will come. They will ask questions and wrangle from him quotes and try to get him to stumble. But with this shirt, all will look and know what he is about. They shall know him by his gator.