Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Jack's Slacks

I'm wearing a sports jacket on this summery August day. Typically I wear one to work--often just to have a place to put my keys and glasses and wallet and phone.  When I get in to the office I hang the jacket up on a hook by my door.

So, in the summer--more often than not--my jacket is not on my back but on a hook.

I just returned from a meeting. The meeting, I thought, was from 1-230. When I arrived there was not a soul in the joint.  This is because the meeting is actually from 130-3.  So, I returned across the campus took off my jacket, hung it up, and saw that the label inside reads Jack's Slacks.

This, therefore--whether I realized it or not when I plucked it from the closet today--is one of my dad's jackets that I had tailored after he passed. Across the shoulders and arms, he and I were about the same. But Dad was broader than I south of the chest, muscular, but a wider girth.  So, I took it in to a tailor and zip zip the jacket looks like it was made for me.  How it fits, though, is beside the point.

Jack's Slacks. I thought the name of the store was not quite that, but that must be it.

We read often about how it is important to chase your dreams.  You want to be a lawyer, well go for it. Want to be a senator, work at it.  Etc.  I remember Jack's Slacks.

About a quarter mile from where we lived in suburban New York, there was a small strip mall. It is where I was sent to get various items when, at the last minute, my mother realized we needed something. In her younger years it was where she sent me--in a panic often--for a pack of cigarettes.  In the mall there was a pharmacy, a barber shop, a--what was called then--beauty parlor, an overpriced according to my mother grocery store, a--what was called then-candy store, a hardware store, a very overpriced deli which we only went to in desperation because it was always open, a bakery, and a bar that my father never went into except to pick up a pizza in thirty years living within an easy stroll of the joint.

At one point the hardware store went out of business.  Shortly thereafter a small clothing shop opened there. Jack's.

I went into Jack's a couple of times.  Jack was always there. Always cheery. Never real pushy but helpful with any inquiries.  I got the sense--and maybe it is because he told me--that this was his dream; to open up a clothing store.  He had been--and again I think he mentioned this to me when I was in there once-that he had been a public servant of some type, maybe a teacher--and had decided that look there is only one life to live, his dream was to own a clothing store, and he went for it.

Thing is, while the merchandise was fine, I don't think I ever was in there when there was more than one other customer. Often when I went in, I was there alone. It was Jack, his supportive but increasingly glum looking wife, and me.

At one point I went back home to visit and Jack's was no longer there.  I don't know what happened. Maybe he hit the lottery, or moved to another location, or just retired. But that is not my sense. My sense was that after giving it a real go, he realized he was not able to stay afloat.  And he had to go on and get another source of income.

All this is conjecture.  He might have made a fortune and the times that I visited were just aberrations.  Yet, seeing the label in the jacket today made me think that Jack's dream of Jack's turned out to be a deflating and devastating nightmare.

I do think you have to go after your dreams.  My sense is that you are better off when you do so even if you do not realize your dreams.  But I do believe there are times like Jack's when a life can become punctured perhaps irreparably when the dreams do not work out.

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