Tuesday, May 06, 2003


If you've known me since I came to Japan, then you have never even once seen me in a suit. If you've known me long enough before that, you know that the last suit I bought was a red velvet jacket with matching bellbottom pants, back before Woodstock.

Well, ok, I also bought a three-piece when I'd just gotten out of college madness and was going to work in the asylum, I wore that suit for four years in exchange for a monthly bundle of cash, but I've paid my dues; you can't hold my past against me, that's all tweed under the bridge.

Anyway it doesn't count since it was under college loan duress. Regarding suits at large I have always agreed with Thoreau, who said not so famously "You expect me to wear this?" in addition to the more famous saying that he put in writing, "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." Carlyle wasn't that far wrong in the suit regard either, though for the wrong reasons as far as I'm concerned, and he dressed terribly.

Suits have little to do with style. In any case, if you knew me well your mandible would have landed on your Guccis at seeing me actually entering a suit store the other day, actually trying on, and actually buying, a suit, like all the other guys who buy suits every day of the year all over the civilized world for whatever totally zongo reasons they may have.

As to that experience I cannot express how otherworldly strange it felt to enter a suit store for the first time in so many decades, and there behold with unsuited eyes the long racks of manly shoulders marching forthrightly on to wherever suits go eventually, in the silent strains of stylishness that used to matter a great deal to me when I was a teenager back in the dark ages of pegged pants.

There were long racks of hangerheads stretching far away in the fashionable maleness of this strange place, in which I also bought a -- white shirt -- and a -- tie. (I almost can't get the words out.) So why? Why? The astute reader will cry; what in the world possessed me, of all people, to do such a thing? What was my zongo reason for buying a suit after all these years in the sartorial wilderness?

Well if you must know it's for my father-in-law's beiju (88th birthday) celebration, 88 being a particularly auspicious number and age in the ancient orient, a once-in-a-lifetime event well worth buying a suit for. That's why I bought my first suit in 40 years, my first tie in 500 years, and my first white shirt in 5000 years, and I will wear them all at once. My father-in-law is a good man, and my new suit is in his honor.

If you also must know, I was married in kimono.