May 20, 2011, 6:29 PM EDT
It’s my belief that, a hundred years from now, parents will no longer sit with their children to explain the birds and the bees. Instead, they’ll tell them the story of You’re With Me, Leather. “You see Bobby, when a sportscaster and a floozy love each other very much …” (children, running from the room screaming: “Nooo!”). If it all ends tomorrow, at least I have left this to the world.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here you go. It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than five years since I wrote that original post — memes usually last less than five days — but here it is, still kicking. In brief, a friend of mine told me the offhanded story of how he was trying to pick up a leather-skirted lady at a bar in Scottsdale one night, when Chris Berman swooped in, snapped his fingers and stole her from under his nose. It was an effortless pickup, like Oscar Robertson hitting a medium-range jumper, that only required one brief sentence: “You’re with me, leather.” Somewhat in awe, I wrote a post about it on Deadspin. Hilariously, the story lives on.
That’s due in large part to Berman, of course. The Marx Brothers were funny, but they needed a foil. Berman, who bristles, fidgets, rails and denies at every mention of You’re With Me, Leather, fans the flames every time there’s a danger of the meme dying down. He has become this story’s Margaret Dumont, acting surprised as Professor Firefly asks for a lock of her hair. When she protests, he declares: “You’re getting off easy, I could have asked for the whole wig.”
This little story has legs because Berman has so many little rivalries. Former and current ESPN colleagues Tony Kornheiser, Keith Olbermann, Neil Everett and Bill Simmons have all mentioned YWML at one time or another, on the air or in print. And they did it because they knew it would get a rise out of Berman … they love needling him, because he has the balloon-sized ego that’s fun to pop. And Berman rarely lets them down. In the new ESPN tell-all book Those Guys Have All The Fun, Kornheiser is quoted thusly:
“The whole time I was on Monday Night, Berman never mentioned my name. He loathes me, in part because of stuff I used to write about him. Berman and I have an antagonism that goes back many, many years, long before I ever got to ESPN. Once in Minnesota, the big grand poo-bah stood there and lectured me, screaming at me about how great he was, how significant he was, how he built the network, and how I ought to be more grateful. That was when he accused me of writing the blog about him and that leather thing. He said, ‘I know how it got on the Internet.’ I asked him, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ “
I hate it when I’m mistaken for Tony Kornheiser.
Berman replied by saying that the story was false. Quote: “I don’t know where that came from.”
Well, the original source, who still doesn’t want to be named, called me on Tuesday, a little miffed that Berman is still denying all of this. And he even gave me a couple of extra tidbits of information about that fateful day.
“It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, in 1994 or ’95,” he said. “The bar was Maloney’s, in Scottsdale. We were visiting spring training that year, and were there that night to watch the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
“It’s absolutely true. Every word of it; I was there. I’ve heard various accounts of how the woman was wearing a leather bra, leather boots, etc. It was a leather skirt, and leather jacket. My friend had been working on picking up this girl for a couple of hours. And Boomer just walks in, points at her and says, “You’re with me, leather.” Without a word, she just picked up her jacket and followed him outside. It was our favorite story privately for years. Then when it hit Deadspin, it took on this huge new life. The line was even in an episode of the TV show Vegas. It’s amazing.”
My source would only add that his friend is a University of Santa Barbara alum.
“I can’t believe the shelf life of this thing,” he said, laughing. “It’s so awesome that this thing lives on.”
Indeed. And as long as Berman doth protest too much, it always will.
But there were other stories this week, weren’t there? Let’s take a look.
- The Preakness and pro beach volleyball: two great tastes that go great together.
- Intense A’s fan Vega *88 brings glove, jersey, attitude to the barbecue deck.
- Former Giants QB Jared Lorenzen is still gettin’ it done.
- New Japanese sport is stupid yet intriguing. We will defend this pole!
- Duke loses blue-chip recruit because they can’t spell his name. Fail.
- What Osama bin Laden is forced to wear in hell. (Turn away, it’s hideous!).
- Brian Wilson has tweeted me his approval of our World Beard and Mustache champion post.
- Nothing sadder than a drunken bear being arrested at the SF Bay to Breakers. Poor dope.
Thanks for reading, as always. On Saturday, Rob Sylvester is back with tales of amazing adventure that you will not believe. Either that, or West Nile Virus (the email was not clear).
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