“I finally got them! Polish laces!”
Polish laces... the genuine article.
And indeed, they were laces. Black dress shoelaces, to be precise. They were authentically Polish, too, having been brought back from Warsaw by our rabbi, who had just completed a two-week congregational trip to Eastern Europe.
Of course there’s a story.
It seems that when Houston Steve was a young midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, there was a cobbler shop just outside the gate with a sign in the window that looked something like this:
“In 1976, as a somewhat freshly minted officer in the Navy’s JAG Corps, I was back in Washington, DC for the annual JAG Conference, and I took a side trip to the alma mater. I went by the old cobbler shop, and there was the sign. Yup: still there. And then it dawned on me. Polish... Laces... what a dumbass!! It’s the stuff you shine the shoes with and the stuff you keep them on with. Two nouns, not an adjective and a noun.
“But, then, last month my synagogue was sending a group to Eastern Europe, led by my friend Rabbi Shalom Lewis. I stopped by his office before he left, and I asked him to have a look around while he was in Warsaw and Krakow to see if he could find any. And he did! And he brought some back for me.”
Polish laces, Esteemed Readers. Now: What does this one rate on the Dolt-O-Meter?