Expressway: A suit sale like this suits me anytime
It was a Saturday afternoon, the third day of a four-day sale at Macy's at the Walt Whitman mall in Huntington. The store advertisement promised a "Spectacular" sale on suits: "50% off on regular prices. Then subtract another $50."
There I was, elbow to elbow with grown men looking for bargains. Skinny guys, fat guys, guys with tattoos, sweating under the hot lights. Most of the suits cost $450, which made the final cost $175.
I wanted an American suit in gray or brown. (I already had a blue suit.) I looked through the 40s, interspersed with the 41s, 42s, 43s, and 44s. I saw one brown suit: 40 jacket, 34 pants. My size. And, then I looked at the price: $150.
There it was, printed on the label -- not handwritten: $150. I ran the figures through my head: After knocking off 50 percent, plus another $50, my suit would cost $25!
I took a deep breath and furtively looked around, feeling like the person with the winning lottery ticket who doesn't want anyone to know. I shouldered my way up to a clerk. Glasses perched on his nose, he looked down at the price and then up at me.
"Yes," he said, almost solemnly. "It will cost $25."
I couldn't believe it. I said, "Please ask him, too," motioning to another clerk.
Clerk No. 2 looked at the tag and nodded: "Twenty-five dollars."
Incredible. I looked at the label: 90 percent wool, 10 percent polyester.
"This is real wool, right?"
The clerks nodded in unison.
"Twenty-five dollars!" I said. "I could pay for this suit in cash!"
And, yet I felt guilty. (Not surprising, when you realize this is coming from the guy who returned to Waldbaum's after realizing he was never charged for a cucumber.)
I shook my head and thought, "Twenty-five dollars? Shouldn't I call the designer and alert him to this situation?"
"Mr. Alfani, you're going to lose money on this deal. I'll pay an extra $100 so you can stay in business."
But, I didn't.
My next step? I tried on the suit. And, it fit. And, it looked good, damn good! Saul Stud!
But, as I looked in the mirror, I started to sweat: I couldn't find the price tag. I checked the jacket. I couldn't find it! In a panic, I took off the suit, and there it was on the sleeve: $150. Whew!
No time to dally. I paid for the suit and made sure the clerk removed all those tickets and gadget things. I didn't want to be stopped at the door by the guard, demanding to see my receipt.
"Twenty-five dollars for an Alfani? Yeah, right. OK, buddy, up against the wall and spread those tapered legs!"
I thanked the clerk profusely and said, "I'd like to look around for some more things."
I sidled over to the sports jackets, shirts and ties. A funny thing happened. After paying $25 for a suit, everything else looked wildly expensive. Eighteen dollars for a tie? Ninety for a sports jacket! You've got to be kidding!
I headed for the door and came upon Clerk No. 1.
"Did you find anything else?" he smiled, almost conspiratorially.
I shook my head. "Nope."
I smiled and, feigning a touch of disgust, added, "Looked all over and couldn't find a $4 sports jacket."
Reader Saul Schachter lives in Sea Cliff.