• Davis Young

What more could a guy ask for....


Last week, our ever-expanding community of readers enjoyed the true story of the disappearing stripes the first time I wore a wonderful new business suit. Clearly, my sartorial splendor struck a nerve with many of you. For example, one went out of his way to come by and tell me he knew someone who experienced the very same result with a suit he had purchased from the very same discount clothier. And to think I thought I was special...


Here is this week’s clothing saga. I was more than pleasantly surprised nearly 50 years ago when my older brother said that - in response to a favor I had done for him - he was going to treat me to a custom-tailored cashmere sport coat fitted to my exact specifications by his long-time tailor Mike from Hong Kong. It seems that Mr. Mike would be coming to the United States soon on one of his regular trips to see important customers. I should expect a call from him when he would be coming through Ohio and setting up shop in a local Holiday Inn.


I mean, how can you beat cashmere? And to have someone come 7,923 miles across the Pacific Ocean to make sure this coat would fit me like a glove was a really exciting prospect.


Sometime that spring the phone rang and it was the global aficionado himself. (Aficionado is a very important word I learned from a Spanish friend. I try to use it as often as possible especially when I am telling an international story.) Hello, this is Mike from Hong Kong. I’ll be in Cleveland next week to measure you for a cashmere sport coat.


I am short, so it is easier and faster to measure me than if I were a strapping young customer with a ripped physique. But, Mr. Mike took plenty of time. One of my arms is a fraction longer than the other, so that impacts sleeve length. How much of your shirt would you like showing when the coat sleeve stops? That’s a critically important question. He measured me across the shoulders. He checked the specs across my chest and so on. To say he was meticulous is an understatement. He put all of the details on a yellow legal pad. In a few weeks your fine new cashmere sport coat will arrive. I thanked Mr. Mike profusely as I knew I was on the verge of receiving the bestest gift ever.


One night six or eight weeks later I came home from downtown, and lo and behold there was a package addressed to me. A lot of great things have happened to me over my lifetime. But this would be number one. What a wonderful brother to do this for me.


I opened the package with great care and took the sport coat out. First, I just admired it. I didn’t want to put it on yet. I just looked at it. Eventually, I worked up my courage and touched the cashmere. It was the best feeling ever. I was so happy I was almost crying.


Urged on by my wife, the moment of truth was upon me. I put it on. I then turned to my much better half and said, There must be some sort of mix-up.


The body of the sport coat was a bit long. In fact, it came down to my knees and was clearly intended for someone else. And the sleeves. Oh my, the sleeves were for somebody much smaller than me (and there aren’t many people who are). Somewhere in the creation of this magnificent sport coat, my information had gotten tangled up with another customer or perhaps two. What I received was basically a short-sleeve, full-length cashmere overcoat. The sleeves were intended for a customer in Pittsburgh and the body of the coat was for a man in Montana.


Even cashmere wears out over time. But this story doesn’t. My brother never did buy me another cashmere sport coat. As a result of this experience, I received extensive grief counseling and, after nearly 50 years, I am at last able to come to grips with what happened.


It was just a clerical error that caused all this, sort of the same type of mistake if you received a mis-filled prescription at your local pharmacy. But, that would be even worse because it might kill you. Receiving a short-sleeve, full-length cashmere overcoat is just one of life’s passing disappointments, but it won’t kill you.


Be patient. Mr. Mike may be coming to a Holiday Inn near you very soon.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

There is a running joke in my family about pinstripe suits....


When I was just a high school lad, I worked in a couple of very high-end Princeton men’s clothing stores dusting shelves, putting items away, emptying wastebaskets and - on football Saturdays - selling what are known as men’s furnishings (shirts, socks, neckties, belts, pajamas, etc.). I remember a customer in 1956 paying the astronomical sum of $50 for a single necktie. That was my first exposure to idle money.


I developed certain clothing tastes from that experience and those have carried over into my adult life. I have lots of khaki pants. I nearly always wear button down shirts. My white bucks are long gone, but not my Bass Weejuns. I’m pretty conservative in the way I dress, but I can go most anywhere and not embarrass myself (at least not by what I am wearing).

That said, it is true that I did get asked to leave the lobby of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore once because I was wearing Bermuda shorts. I wanted to tell the staff person who escorted me to the exit that I had been thrown out of better places. He needed to hear that, but it wasn’t really true and I would have carried guilt about such a fib for many years. Without question, the Raffles Hotel is the best place I was ever asked to leave. I have buried that secret within the deepest reaches of my soul and I feel ever so much better to at last free myself of that burden.

Here is a totally true clothing anecdote. In the 1970s, when I was establishing myself as a businessperson in downtown Cleveland, I favored a long-gone discount clothing store that was within easy walking distance of my office. Over a period of years I bought many items there and I was always satisfied with the quality of my purchases. I don’t always shop in a discount store today, but I wasn’t rolling in money then (and, in fact, I am still waiting to do so).


One day about 50 years ago, I was shopping in this emporium when I came upon a wonderful brown suit with white pinstripes. I think we can all agree that inflation has increased the value of what I paid then. The suit (including alterations) was, as I recall, something in the range of $27.95. Yes, you read that right - twenty seven dollars and ninety five cents. At today’s prices, that would mean the suit would cost about $111. Can we also agree that $111 isn’t going to buy much of a suit now… probably not even the pants much less the coat? Perhaps only a single leg of the pants. I succumbed for $27.95. How could I pass up such a bargain?


I remember when I put my wonderful new suit on for the first time. I wanted to look my best. I had some sort of meeting that day. I may have even received a compliment or two about my new look of success. I do have a clear recollection from long ago that, for the first half hour or so, I sat with my left leg crossed on top of my right leg. Finally, it was time to shift my legs. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the right leg and found that the stripes on the right knee had disappeared. It was like someone had taken an eraser to a blackboard. Of course, I immediately covered my right knee with a legal pad as I put it over the left knee. A half hour later, same result on the left side. No more stripes. That was the end of any compliments about my fine new suit.


There are two important lessons to be learned from this experience.

  • Anyone who sells someone a necktie for $50 in the 1950s should probably think twice before buying an entire suit for $27.95 in the 1970s. That just doesn’t add up.

  • If you have any striped suits in your closet, make sure all the stripes are still there. Stripeless in Cleveland is not a good look.

And then, there is the story about my brother treating me to a custom cashmere sport coat from Hong Kong. We’ll save that one for the near future.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

My favorite place in the World. Luckily, I wasn't there.


Since 1991, only two back-to-back, record-breaking hurricanes and one global pandemic have prevented us from our annual winter holiday in the peaceful paradise named the British Virgin Islands (aka BVI). We have visited there more than 25 times without any sort of incident. The bad stuff always occurred in the U.S. Virgin Islands, specifically St. Thomas, which has a reputation for ugly things happening after dark, especially (brace yourself for this) regarding drugs.


We go through St. Thomas when we come to the BVI. Sometimes we spend a night there before we make the short trip over to the BVI by ferry the next morning. If we do that, we are very careful where we go at night. We do not party with drug dealers.


We have never worried about drugs in the BVI. When we step off the morning ferry and onto BVI turf, we know we are safe. Friendly “belongers” welcome us with smiles. It is truly a peaceful place with a well-earned good name. We drive our rental car all over the main island of Tortola both day and night - and we have NEVER run into one drug dealer.


While it is not known for drugs, BVI does occasionally get caught up in media coverage about money laundering. I don’t pay much attention to that as I am not a high roller looking for places to park large amounts of money. The only money of mine that gets laundered is an occasional coin in a pocket that falls out when my clothes are washed. We do send our clothes to a laundry when we’re in the BVI so if you want to get me in trouble on a technicality, I suppose you could say I do money laundering.


But, nobody talks about any of that down there. The relatively small cohort of Americans who have discovered the BVI are much too busy being in the water, on the water or just looking at the water to waste time conjuring up negative thoughts about something as mundane as money.


One of our favorite activities in the BVI is to do absolutely nothing. Think about a sunny afternoon on a lawn chair looking out over a water channel that is little more than a mile wide with a perfect view of the U.S. island of St. John. We have done that hundreds of times. Between the salt air and doing nothing, this is very tiring. We’ve been known to say perhaps it’s time to go back to work for a rest.


All of this leads me to something that happened this past Sunday. A small boat, pursued in the air by a large helicopter and on land by the local police, slammed into the beach at high speed in the very spot where I so enjoy sitting and doing nothing. It ran aground on the sand having cut across the well-protected water RIGHT IN FRONT of where we have stayed many times.


Media reports say there were three men on this boat. One was captured and two escaped. Something that did not escape was $27 million of cocaine, or as the media report said, “11 bales of substance believed to be cocaine.” The report goes on to say, “A search by law enforcement has uncovered a significant quantity of suspected cocaine in the nearby waters.”


Wait till the fish discover that. And, imagine eating one of those island fish for dinner tonight in a local restaurant as you listen to a wonderful steel drum band or some Bob Marley wannabe.


If only I had been on that beach yesterday - and the boat didn’t kill me when it came ashore - I might have gotten my hands on enough of that white powdery stuff to pay for my vacation. Timing is everything in this life and, unfortunately, my timing wasn’t good in this instance. To make a bad pun, my ship did not come in.


There’s a wonderful beer down in that part of the world marketed under the name Carib. It’s only 11 in the morning as I write this, but it’s never too early in the day to console myself with an ice cold beer. Carib is my drug of choice.

 

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.

This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

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