On Becoming a Vending Machine

When I first read an article from the New York Times about turning yourself into a vending machine as a form of protection from street thugs, I thought it had to be a joke. I was wrong.

A Japanese designer, Aya Tsukioka, has come up with the latest in how-to-defend-yourself when on the mean streets of Tokyo–or, presumably, your hometown. Not being promoters of violence, most Japanese would prefer a quieter form of defense than fighting back when threatened by an attack from a mugger. The designer, who is the subject of the NYT piece, is betting that her countrywomen will prefer to turn themselves into vending machines. It gets even better. The vending machine will magically materialize from their skirts.

I had to read that part several times before it made any sense, and even once I could understand what was being said, it still didn’t make any sense in the normal way of thinking. How could anyone wear a vending machine that was disguised as a skirt?

Fortunately, someone on the Times staff realized that in order to make this article credible, pictures were needed, and once I turned to the page on which the article was continued, there they were. Still, the mystery wasn’t entirely cleared up, but the woman who had initially been wearing a skirt did appear to have become a vending machine–with feet, and after just a couple of intermediary stages. To be fair, the feet weren’t particularly noticeable to the unsuspecting.

The point of all this was to become inconspicuous. So, when sensing a potentially dangerous situation, all a woman needs to do is first, be wearing the vending machine skirt, second, find a place to duck into to perform the transformation–preferably directly adjacent to a natural spot for a vending machine to be (nothing more attention getting than a self propelled vending machine cruising the sidewalk), and voilĂ . Mission Impossible accomplished. In theory at least.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to know that each skirt/vending machine combo cost around $1000. I wonder if Oprah will want one. I hope so, because she and her friends are about the only people that I know of who might be willing and able to make such an investment.

Actually, Oprah, especially, could find this useful. Can’t you just picture it? There’s Oprah in some guise that makes her–she thinks–inconspicuous and ordinary looking. And then suddenly she’s found out–maybe by just one person. But she knows what’s about to happen once she’s been sighted–and the only way out of the consequential mobbing by the masses is to turn herself into a vending machine. Let’s just hope she’s not in the middle of Nieman Marcus when this occurs, as at last check, I saw no vending machines placed within that store, so having one suddenly appear, say in the middle of the cosmetics department, might cause something of a stir–just exactly what we’re trying to avoid.

I’ve been thinking of situations where I would find this vending machine-from-a-skirt useful in my life. Let’s see. I’ve just said something incredibly stupid and want to just disappear. Presto! I’m a vending machine. I’d just have to wing it and hope that the person I had made this incredibly stupid remark to had buried his/her face into his/her hands–for at least five minutes–so that I could transform myself without being noticed. Of course, I suppose the other option would be just to run away during the head burying, but that would be so common and cowardly.

I know. I see someone heading in my direction that I really don’t want to see. Perfect. I pull the conversion-to-vending-machine trick. Even if it seemed absurd to suddenly find a vending machine in the middle of a grocery store aisle, a person-to-avoid would never think that instead of a real vending machine, it was really me. So, mission accomplished again.

And think of the possibilities this brings to the unfaithful. There they are–caught red-handed with the illicit one…what to do? Turn into a vending machine, and no questions asked. It does occur to me that the designer might want to fashion a man-friendly version of the skirt–a kilt?–so that the males among us will not feel discriminated against in the options for invisibility.

The more I think of it, the more useful having this camouflage available at all times seems necessary–essential even. Maybe if I ordered several in various colors, I’d be able to come up with a workable wardrobe that would get me through a whole week, and even without appearing to be wearing a boring uniform. And maybe there’s a discount for ordering in quantity…

So, what initially had sounded like a preposterous idea, is now sounding better and better. Why hadn’t I thought of inventing this myself? Quite obviously, it is destined to be the iPod of the fashion world.

So, when you suddenly see a vending machine appear in front of you, always check first to see if it has feet. If it does, you’ll realize that it may not be a vending machine after all. Remember, you heard it here first.

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