About 30 years ago I was sitting in a hotel bar with some of my cowboy musician friends. I ordered a drink prescribed by my good friend, Dr. Jose Cuervo. I felt creatively inspired.
I remarked to my pals that I had an idea that would revolutionize the sport of golf and do away with sissy costumes like knickers and plaid socks. They rolled their eyes.
I’ve never had feelings of superiority before but looking around at these pitiful Mensa rejects it occurred to me that this would be a good time to unleash some. So I explained that Texas had such a strong hold on mankind’s imagination that golf shoes made to look like cowboy boots would be a big seller. They laughed and laughed. The confidence vote was seven nayes and one abstention. Then they head slapped this one guy who had dozed off, explained it to him and it was unanimous. But just to humor me they said I could discuss how I’d design the boot. I told them it was simply a matter of sewing some cowboy boot tops to Nike sneakers and drew a picture on a cocktail napkin. I’d just patent the idea and take a royalty from Tony Lama Boot Company. And I wasn’t greedy; I’d just take $1 per pair of boots as payment for my idea. I told them I had the perfect name, Tenny Lamas. I wrote that on the napkin.
Fast forward a decade or so to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. I was in the exhibit hall and passed by a Tony Lama booth. A big sign read, “Sale, 50 percent off on Teny Lamas.” And there was my idea, only with the name Teny instead of Tenny, which I had failed to patent anyway. No sour grapes, I bought a pair. I asked the salesman where the idea came from and how they were selling. He said, “Some guy sent it to us as a joke, a drawing on the back of a cocktail napkin, even gave us the name. We dropped one “n” just in case he ever decided to sue us, sent him a modest gift certificate and got him to sign a release. Rodeo clowns and ropers love’em but the company just didn’t think they were a good return on the investment. That’s why they’re on sale, we’re discontinuing the design.” I asked how many they had sold. He said, “Only a million pair, not worth it for us.” So much for my $1 royalty idea too.
A couple of days ago I got a call from a friend who had seen me wearing those Teny Lamas, said he couldn’t find them anywhere and would I sell him mine, since he knew we wore the same size, said he’d pay me what they cost me. He laughed and laughed when I told him I’d have to have a million dollars and owner financing.
Doc Blakely is a humorist and motivational speaker who resides in Wharton. For more information, visit www.docblakely.com.