Friday, April 27, 2007

Pointy or Rounded Snout?

Former Honey and I made a bet over the type of animal embroidered on the Lacoste polo shirt. I instantly replied, "it's an alligator" and was so sure of myself that I made the bet sushi dinner. Former Honey thought it was a crocodile but was less sure of herself and countered with coffee. No, I insisted, dinner.

Back in the early 80s when these shirts were popular, as I guess they are once more, I remember calling them alligator shirts. There was also a book floating around at that time titled, Save an Alligator, Shoot a Preppy. Eager to cash in on my dinner, I googled Lacoste and discovered that Wiki believes it to be a crocodile. Impossible! I kept looking and found a site that said:
The Lacoste sports shirt, made of cotton pique and bearing a logo of an alligator, was named for its creator, tennis pro Rene "The Crocodile" Lacoste.

As much as I want to win this bet, Professional Critic pauses. This makes absolutely no sense. I'm a humanities gal through and through but even I know an alligator and a crocodile are not the same animal. (Don't ask me how they're different please. They just are, okay?)

Reading the Lacoste website, it is easy to see how we all became so confused. Says Rene Lacoste:

"I was nicknamed "the Alligator" by the American press, after I made a bet with the Captain of the French Davis Cup Team concerning a suitcase made from alligator skin. He promised to buy it for me if I won a very important match for our team.The public must have been fond of this nickname which conveyed the tenacity I displayed on the tennis courts, never letting go of my prey!"

"So my friend Robert GEORGE drew a 'crocodile' which I then had embroidered on the blazer I wore on the courts."

Lacoste himself, or maybe his friend Robert GEORGE, is the source of the confusion. Forgivable, I suppose. He's a tennis player and style icon, not a herpetologist. But what of the sushi dinner? Am I buying or being treated? Does the word crocodile in quotes really mean alligator?

I turn to science to help. Even after studying this damn corporate animal and using this handy guide I still can't tell.

Two more interesting tidbits. One from Lacoste again:

"To the best of our knowledge, this was the first time that a brand name appeared on the outside of an article of clothing - an idea which has since become extremely successful."

Thanks, for that great contribution to the world, Mr. Lacoste, as well as your incisive understanding of the crocodilian species.

And because was one of the sites that wanted to tell me about Lacoste, I finally (sort of) understand what hyphy means.

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