I took my wife to the Phoenix Symphony last night for their New Year’s Eve show. My wife is a musician, and the symphony is in regular rotation for us, thanks largely to the free tickets they donate to VetTix. They put on a great performance, as usual, and we had a blast. I wore my favorite deplorable suit, which cost well under $200 after tailoring and fits me like a custom suit.
After the symphony, we walked over to our favorite local downtown pub. Deplorably, we’re well-known enough downtown that we get 20% off at most of the pubs we like. If you like to go to pubs, work on getting your local pub on lock down for discounts and free stuff. It works. Barhopping is an expensive hobby, so saving money where you can makes sense.
Anyway, my wife and I went to this Irish-themed pub. I was suited up and looking sharp, and she looked great in her short dress and heels. A younger man, also suited up, came up to me and struck up a conversation. He was friendly enough, but I could tell a lot about him by how he looked (tatted out with gold teeth) and by how he smelled (like weed). He complimented my suit and, being a friendly sort myself, I returned the favor. So far so good.
My new friend was clearly drunk and high, so he was feeling pretty truthsome. In vino veritas and all that. He rattled off a very long list of possessions, how much he paid for his suit, made sure to tell me how much cash he had on hand, how much his gold teeth and dozens of tattoos cost, what kind of car he drove, and even how expensive his “great Colorado weed” was. His girlfriend was very attractive, slim and feminine, though similarly covered in tattoos.
(I’m not a snob, by the way. I have two tattoos myself, and my wife has one.)
Was my new friend happy? Nope, not even a little. In fact, all he could talk about after his money and his possessions was how much the world, and even the uber-friendly patrons of our favorite little pub, “disrespected” him all the time and how pissed off he was at life. His possessions, his new custom suit, his tattoos, his gold teeth, his expensive jewelry, and his shiny watch had all failed to make him happy. The longer we talked, the more I realized that he was, at heart, an angry and unhappy man. I ended up feeling sorry for him, especially when he and his girlfriend got into a fight and left the pub well before midnight.
There’s a lot of truth in the saying that the better you dress the worse you can behave. It’s also true that a good suit has an effect on a man’s psyche and often makes him want to “live up” to the image the suit conveys. But if you’re an unhappy person at heart, no custom suit or pile of shiny bling will transform you into a happy man. My single-serving friend last night was living proof of that.
I’m vain. I love wearing a well-fitting suit, especially one that I put together for very little money. I love being seen with a pretty, well-dressed woman on my arm. But I also know that my happiness is not inextricably tied to my suit, my watch, my tie, or my shoes. Those are just things, just stuff. My happiness as a person doesn’t depend on them, or as Tyler Durden would say, I’m not my fucking khakis. And you’re not your fucking khakis, either.
I am a deplorable consumer.