Frankly, My Dude, You’re Missing a Stair

Frankly, My Dude, You’re Missing a Stair May 9, 2024

“I ran into Frank last night,” one of my employees recounted. “He wanted to know who was working this morning, so I told him you were, and he said he’d wait to come in until someone else was on duty.”

“Why is that?” I asked, although I was pretty sure I already knew the answer.

“He doesn’t like you,” my employee replied sheepishly, confirming my suspicions. “He said you’re aloof and unfriendly.”

I am not, as Frank alleges, aloof and unfriendly: In fact, I am genial to a fault, and I offer Frank the same level of quality customer service that every visitor to the spicy shop receives. But there’s a game Frank likes to play, and every time he tries to draw me into it, I politely refuse to engage, which frustrates him to no end.

The world according to Frank, which will make horrifying sense as the story progresses. (Image courtesy of Dean Lewis.)

You see, Frank, is… endowed. Monstrously so. And Frank has made this his entire personality. Which has led to a series of repeat performances of the following interaction:

“Hi, Frank. What can I help you find today?”

“Oh, I’m just looking for [insert article of clothing, accessory, or personal amusement device here].”

“Great! We have a wide variety.”

“Yeah, I am WAY too big to fit into any of these.”

“We also carry an excellent selection of products for… gifted gentlemen such as yourself. If you’ll follow me…”

“Nope. These are all too small. I’m REALLY big.”

“Okay, those are the largest in stock, but if you have something specific in mind, I’d be happy to place a special order.”

[grinning] “Why don’t I just show you…”

“You know, I actually don’t need to see it.”

And that right there is why Frank doesn’t like me. I won’t let him release the kraken in the middle of the sales floor, and that makes Frank surly.

Not that I’m averse to full frontals in the store, mind you. It comes with the job — honestly, the only people who see more no-no zones on a daily basis than I do are urologists. But there’s also a big difference between “Do these lacy unmentionables fit correctly?” and “BEHOLD HOW THE GODS HAVE BLESSED ME.”

This is how it feels when Frank starts browsing. (Image courtesy of Dean Lewis.)

The latter being the sole reason Frank comes in at all: His admeasurement is his only source of validation, and he’s found an environment in which he feels like he can demand that validation without repercussion.

Up until recently, my employees were fairly accommodating of Frank, although I strongly encouraged them not to be. Because Frank is on the cusp of becoming a missing stair, and I am committed to preventing that.

The metaphor of the missing stair was originally coined by blogger Cliff Jerrison as a way to describe problematic or predatory individuals within a subculture, around whom everyone else has learned to cautiously navigate. Those individuals are akin to home maintenance issues that residents are aware of but haven’t gotten around to fixing. Like, if you ever watched 2 Broke Girls, remember that time Max’s boyfriend injured himself on a nail sticking out of a floorboard, and Caroline was like, “Oh, no, he stepped on Nail Patrick Harris”? That was a literal example of a missing stair.

Douglas and I attended this Pagan campout one time, and shortly after we arrived on site, a random guy came over, introduced himself, pulled Douglas into a bearhug (“I’m a hugger, c’mere…”) then attempted to make out with him. Douglas understandably stepped back, and the guy was like, “Now now, we’re all Pagan here.”

Douglas managed to successfully avoid the mouth invasion, but while I was confident in Douglas’ ability to maintain his boundaries, the situation was more than a little infuriating to me. Especially when some of the other campers were like, “Oh, yeah, that’s just how Brendon is. You’ll be fine as long as you don’t stand too close.”

It never occurred to anyone to pull Brendon aside and be like, “Stop trying to smooch strangers against their will.” Or, even better, “Brendon, we can no longer tolerate your behavior. Please leave.”

That would be awesome. But until it happens, Brendon is a missing stair. And one of these days, someone is going to fall right through him.

Oh, look. Brendon found Frank’s Grindr profile. (Image courtesy of Dean Lewis.)

That acknowledged, judged, and released, I am relieved to report that my employees have finally started setting their own boundaries with our local structural defect. The last time Frank came by the store (when I wasn’t there, natch), he found a new product that he wanted to try on, and the staff members on duty — who, at this point, had been exposed to Frank’s bounty any number of times — were immediately like, “Hey, that’s not wide enough for you. Please don’t.”

Now, I don’t know if Frank legitimately thought the product was wide enough, or if he just wanted to exploit another opportunity to whip out his junk in a semi-public space. But either way, he failed to heed the warnings, and as a result… Frank got stuck. Just good and wedged in there.

I will spare you the grisly details, but it took the efforts of two people working in tandem to set him free. Bolt cutters may or may not have been involved. There was bruising and possible tissue damage, and the emotional trauma rivaled the physical.

We haven’t seen Frank since that incident, but we all expect him to return sooner than later, undoubtedly to show everyone how the healing process is coming along. And when he reaches for his fly, I cannot wait to hear my employees say, “You know, Frank, we appreciate your business, but we actually don’t need to see it.”

Like what you’ve read? You can buy me a coffee about it. (CashApp and Venmo are always options as well.)

Oh, more discord, you say? But of course! Follow Thumper Forge on Amazon, Bluesky, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, Threads, and TikTok.

The exit is right through the gift shop.

About Thumper
Thumper (Horkos) Marjorie Splitfoot Forge is a Gardnerian High Priest, an initiate of the Minoan Brotherhood, an Episkopos of the Dorothy Clutterbuck Memorial Cabal of Laverna Discordia, a recovering alcoholic, and a notary public from Houston, TX. His first book, VIRGO WITCH, co-authored with Ivo Dominguez, Jr., is currently available at open-minded bookstores everywhere. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives