I knew the country, and possibly the planet at large, was traveling on the zipline to hell in a large handbasket when I realized that my identity had been reduced to a piece of clothing. Before anyone begins speculating nastily about the article of attire to which I refer, I will end the suspense. It is a suit.
This all started when I wandered into the law firm lunch room. There was a rumor, circulated via email, that some coffee cake had materialized there and was innocently awaiting attack by hungry employees. The rumor was unsubstantiated. There was no cake. It had been savaged down to the crumbs. Fifteen minutes had elapsed since the email was sent, ample time to completely consume a rhinoceros, in this office.
Deprived, I examined the lunch table. There was a pile of magazines. One was upside down. It sported an advertisement for a cable television series. The ad showed two young actors, neither of whom was known to me, sporting fabulous haircuts, bespoke attire and wearing expressions intended to convey smug perfidy. The tagline was, “Half the truth. And nothing but.” The program itself was called Suits.
This experience was closely followed by an encounter with a tradesman. We were examining a septic system. He was explaining the delicacies of waste disposal. He refused to shake hands because of a predilection for bacterial contamination. I didn’t mind. Hand sanitizer, children, is just a spritz away, as Mick Jagger famously sang in “Gimme Shelter.” Oh, wait …
Our conversation waxed technical, then casual. Somehow the subject of my job came up. I said I was a lawyer.
The septic professional looked me up and down. “I would never have taken you for a suit!” he said.
A suit — there it was again. There was no question what type of individual he intended to describe. It tallied closely with the connotations concocted by advertising personnel for the cable series: a well-coiffed, meticulously dressed person with impeccably shiny shoes, hostile intentions and absent morals. That imaginary person, I suspected, made more than my annual salary while taking a limo ride to lunch. Probably, he was a lawyer.
I conceded that I was not a “suit” in the manner implied, but that my occupation on occasion required that I wear one.
This encounter gave rise to contemplation. If my whole being were going to be summed up in a word, it should be both fitting and accurate. The possibilities burgeoned. I am not a uniform, a term sometimes used in detective fiction to describe lower level police officers. Definitely not a bikini, now or ever. A skirt, which appeared pejorative, did not really seem to apply, either. A shirt carried almost the same negative associations as a suit, and suggested heavy starch in the personality department. Nope. I couldn’t call myself a stocking, blue, Christmas or anything else. High or not, I hope that I am never described as a heel.
I looked down. There was the answer. Aha, I thought — I am a clog.
By way of explanation, I wear clogs every day. They serve the noble function of protecting me against the dreaded emergency bunionectomy. But wait — there’s more! A clog is not only a shoe, but an impediment; something stopping, say, the unbridled flow of discovery. This appealed to me.
There was a deeper meaning. Clogs are really the sabots of the Dutch, from which the word sabotage is derived; this pleased me. I like to think of my work in the defense business as that of a quiet and polite saboteur of liability, causation and damages. Credibility is somewhere in there, too.
Notwithstanding my delight at having arrived at an epigrammatic summary judgment of my personality, attitude and job description, I doubt anyone will be lining up in the near future to bring us a TV series called “Clogs,” but, hey, with Hollywood — you never know. •