Two Suits and a Closet

In my age cohort, “Suits” is not a term of endearment.

A term of derision, perhaps. A pejorative.

In my youth, Suits controlled the only industry that mattered: the music industry. And “independent” music artists were the only ones we self-described hip listeners supported.

“Independent” was code for “unsigned,” much the way that today “consultant” is code for “unemployed.” Sometimes “progressive” was used synonymously with “independent.”

Nonetheless, these musicians retained the label of independence and its accompanying, self-attributed prestige. Until, that is, they signed a recording deal with one of the major labels – which, of course, were controlled by Suits.

Then the formerly independent artist became one of the Suits, though they never once wore one.

Suits were also responsible for all that was wrong with the education “system”. A point we students – who, by definition, did not know and whose attendance at school clearly illustrated such – were all to eager to point out.

And Suits ran almost all the other businesses, too. Simply noting this in passing, much like uttering the word “Plastics” with a knowing nod to Mike Nichols’ film “The Graduate”, demonstrated the speaker’s smartness.

Henry Vickers, my boss when I was a roofer – which is code for “one who nails shingles to a roof” – never wore a suit. At least not that I saw.

He did drive one of those station wagons with fake wood panel sides and that was about three city blocks long.

And the station wagon had air conditioning – at the time, an option typically reserved for Cadillacs. He would shut off the AC and roll down the windows as he approached our job site.

So as to appear to be one of us or, at least, sweating like us.

Few were fooled. As Henry and the car drove away, a rather substantial puddle of water on the road was quite evident.

A long, long time ago, I bought two suits. I’m virtually positive I wore each one. At least once.

Today they are stored under archival conditions in a closet. Both suffer the dreaded closet ailment: while the pants inseam length is satisfactory, the waist has shrunken to a certain snugness.

If the suit doesn’t fit, have I become them?

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