A little while ago I went to a place that I usually avoid like the proverbial plague: namely, Century 21. And, to compound the situation, I was dispatched to buy a tie for a person whose taste is diametrically opposed to mine. The problem of the tie selection was easily solved – classical patterns usually work for almost everyone; but the idea of going to Century was still unpalatable. Well, little did I know that I will be entertained during my visit.
First of all, the menswear department, although full of seekers of sartorial excellence on a dime, was not as stuffed as the rest of the store usually is. And then, there were the customers themselves: assorted tourists, the inhabitants of four other than Manhattan boroughs, my Jewish brothers of all different stripes, accompanied by their caring wives, harried downtown employees trying to squeeze a bit of shopping between work and dinner – needless to say, the crowd was pretty varied.
But what really attracted my attention was a guy who was shopping in a slightly different manner from the rest of us: he took about five or six ties, hang them in a row, and was peering at them, trying to figure out what he wanted. But his style of shopping was not what was interesting about him – he himself was, because he and he alone looked like he did not belong at Century 21, but rather at Savile Row. And it weren't his good looks – but rather his manners, his bearing, his whole classy demeanor. I have, for the obvious reasons, gone to more discount shops than I care to remember – but this was the first time I saw somebody who so obviously did not belong there, but still just went ahead with his discount shopping.
Ah, New York, my crazy beloved city! Even after almost twenty five years you still delight and amuse me in the most unexpected places!