P. T. Barnum said there wasa sucker born every minute - an understatement to be sure, but a sound observation nevertheless. I’m certain I more than qualify for the designation, not that I’m proud of it. Many years ago while
shopping in the local Boston Store, I chanced upon “A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXTRA SPECIAL SALE” on corduroy shirts - below cost at $5.00 each. Of course I had to take advantage of this great bargain - a deal you couldn’t refuse - and I fought my way through the crowd of other idiots and bought a grey corduroy shirt.
Almost every shirt I buy needs to have the sleeves shortened, and my new purchase was no exception. I brought it to the tailor for the required circumcision. Even though the alteration cost more than the garment, I felt I had made a wise investment since in four or fi ve years I might need another
shirt. The following week I picked up my corduroy bargain and tried it on for size. I immediately noticed that the right cuff buttoned on the inside instead of the outside of the sleeve. Apparently the tailor had made a mistake. I returned to the shop and said “Sam, you really screwed up - you put this cuff on
backwards - but there’s no rush - this is a heavy shirt and winter is six months away.” Sam examined the shirt and said “Syd, it’s impossible to sew this cuff on any other way. The problem is that you bought a shirt with two left sleeves.” I thought he had gone beserk, but after careful examination I realized he was right. I couldn’t return it, especially after the mutilation.
But I had a great idea. “Sam,” I said, “how about making this into a short
sleeve shirt? That way the problem will be solved.”
“It’s your money - I’ll do it.”
“Okay,” he reluctantly replied.
The next week I returned to the tailor shop for my customized garment. I now had seventeen dollars invested but at least it was wearable. I proudly showed it to my wife who immediately exclaimed, “Whoever heard of a winter shirt with short sleeves? Maybe you should get your overcoat altered to match - and while you’re at it cut the fingers off your gloves. If you keep getting these bargains we’ll end up in the poor house, or at the very least, you’ll lose your shirt!”
Well I didn’t lose it, I never wore it, and very soon gave it away. I still feel my solution was logical, albeit impractical. But hey, nobody is perfect, and I sti ll have a few good ideas up my sleeve!
In days of yore there was a man named Syd Benowitz. There exists a great personal history written by him as a member of the NOVEL APPROACH TO MEMOIR class. Today you will be introduced to one of his memorable parables.
Some memoirs areserious,
some sad. Others are written as childhood experiences-first days of school, the birth of a foal,
or a puppy or a sibling. Special moments like the wedding of a child or buying the perfect dress. What grandparenthood
means to you. Silly moments like losing your house key and the mental gymnastics used to
find it. Is there any reader or writer who hasn’t had this problem? Doesn’t this remind
you of your life? The examples are endless.
In the MEMOIR class you will meet people willing to share experiences. The more you hear or read, the more you realize how much we share feelings and memories.
The more we do this, the more we come to understand that we may not be as unique as we thought we were. Maybe you will find yourself!
Now read Syd’s 15-year-old memoir.