Copyright 1995
Sam Elmore

THE LAR'NCE WELK SUIT


A few years ago, I sold my home in Mississippi and moved to Louisiana. During the pre-packing phase of the dreaded event, I was fumbling through various nooks and crannies of the house, trying to determine which, if any, of my personal belongings I could get rid of, instead of packing and moving them. (As a ‘professional pack rat', that took considerable ‘fumbling.')

I opened my clothes closet one day and began sliding hangers back and forth, looking at clothes. (I don't know about your closets, but mine have never been adequately lighted.) I found a suit of some kind hanging there, with the plactic cover still on it from the last time it had been to the cleaners.

Through the plastic, and hindered by the dim lighting, I could vaguely discern that it was a light-colored, apparently summer-weight, suit; but one of unremembered lineage. I took it out of the closet and removed the plastic bag. The garment was kind of an "off-white" color, with a thin blue stripe. I tried to determine what the color of the suit was…then it all came back to me!

My office was in the Bank of New Orleans Building. In good weather, it was my regular habit during lunch-hour to take a brisk walk through the Central Business District. One day I was striding jauntily along a crowded sidewalk, when I accidentally bumped shoulders with a man, and stopped to apologize.

He was an elderly, down-right handsome, fellow; wearing the best-looking suit I'd ever seen. After my apology (which he accepted in true ‘Southern Gentleman' fashion), I complimented the man on his suit. He responded by saying that the suit was currently on sale at (he named a prominent men's store.) After he went on his way, I walked over to the mentioned store, just out of curiosity.

The suit was, indeed, ‘on sale'....for twice more than what I had ever paid for a suit in my life. But....it was also the best-lookin' suit I'd ever seen. I knew that I already met the only criteria for buying something new: I didn't have one; so I walked into the store. After forty-five minutes of prod, poke, measure, tuck-in and let-out, I found myself the proud owner of a white (w/blue stripe) suit.

On the way home that evening, I practiced several excuses, seeking the key one that might work best with my wife, when she saw my latest acquisition. I was surprised when she was delighted, and relieved when she assured me that the price I'd paid was more than reasonable. She also reminded me that she had been begging me for years to ‘up-grade' my wardrobe (I find shopping distasteful, at best).

She made several additional comments about the overall vintage of the ‘occupants of my closet.' (I swear she used the word ‘Victorian' at least twice.) Then, to slap the icing on the cake, ‘sweet thing' informed me that she would allow me to take her out to dinner that night....ostensibly to show off my new suit. (Oh, well....everything comes with a down-side.)

Three weeks later, I had to make a business trip to South Africa. I packed my suitcase (under the watchful eye of ‘wife-type person') and headed for the airport. My business in South Africa went much better, and was concluded faster, than I expected. Amidst handshakes, nods, and smiles from my South African business associates, I boarded a plane in Capetown for my return flight.

In those days, my company authorized first class air travel for us working stiffs. Wearing my brand-new suit, an' before the ‘pore folks' were even allowed to start lining up, I was grandly escorted to my first-class seat on South African Airlines' 747 non-stop to London. The Stewardess (yeah, I know...it's ‘flight attendant-type-person' now-a-days; but it was different back then) complimented me nicely on my good-looking suit, as did the Captain and Flight Engineer, when they came around to welcome us aboard.

The Stewardess asked me if I would like a glass of orange juice, or perhaps some champagne, before the flight got airborne. I politely declined both, being a ‘white-knuckle' flyer. I made myself comfortable in the over-sized seat, picked up a magazine, and leaned back; trying not to think about the fact that I was fixing to be way up yonder, where I got no business being in the first place.

Soon, all the passengers were all on board, the doors were closed and locked, and the plane began to taxi towards it's appointed runway. The Stewardess came around once more, with a large silver tray laden with long-stemmed crystal glasses, filled to brimming with chilled, high-priced, champagne, and glasses of fresh orange juice.

I suppose she must've hung one-a them spike-heel shoes in the carpet seam, or something; the next thing I knew, she was in the midst of twirling around (just like Loretta Young used to do on her television show entrance), completely off balance. As she was falling, like it was slow-motion, the Stewardess slam-dunked that whole tray-full of champagne and orange juice smack-dab in the middle of my chest! I mean, it was over with before it ever got started!

The only words I know, to describe what followed, are: pan-dee-moan-ee-yum and great-googah-moo-gah! The abject discomfort of that poor Stewardess was sad to behold. She looked like one those eight-armed mythical priestesses from India, as she tried to wipe, blot, soak (or otherwise make disappear) that awful-looking mixture running down the front of my new suit. It was a done deed, though, and I urged her not to worry about it; that it was the same thing as trying to un-mash your thumb after you've hammered it.

(I really don't think it eased her mind a whole lot.)

As soon as I got home, I took the suit to the cleaners right away, and explained to them what the stains were caused by. The condition of the suit, when I got it back from the cleaners, was the same condition is was still in, as I stood there beside the bed during the previously mentioned moving process.

What a bizarre color---my white (w/blue stripe) champagne & orange-colored suit. One thing I'm pretty sure of...no one else has a suit the same color as mine.

(With the possible exception of…Lawrence Welk.)