It was a while ago when serendipity gently scratched like a hopeful paramour. Bored one afternoon I had gone to see a movie matinee at the independent Clay Theater up in the “nice” part of Fillmore Street in San Francisco. The film was what my father would call “a cute little movie;” not a blockbuster shoot-‘em-up by any means, but rather a nicely put together character study. “The Great Buck Howard” stars John Malkovich and includes a brace of cameos by Tom Hanks, who also produced it. The movie deals with an eccentric TV psychic, loosely based on the real life story of The Amazing Kreskin, who appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson dozens of times. It’s a good renter.
Anyway, after the film I decided to stroll across the street to The Junior League of San Francisco Next-to-New Store. As even the most lackadaisical boulevardier should be able to surmise, the Junior League is one of those tony, old-money institutions that benefit a plethora of causes which, luckily for the organization, never seem to improve enough so that the League’s charity can ever be turned down.
As a deadbeat dandy, I’ve had a certain amount of luck at the Junior League shop in the past, finding articles such as cast-off Dunhill ties and never-worn Church’s English shoes. That day I started at the suit and sport coat rack, flicking through it with my usual, speedy, “Nope-flick, nope-flick, nope-flick.”
I looked around and spied a second, free-standing rack next to the one I’d been flicking through and went to take a look. My hand alighted on a soft wool navy blazer. I pulled it out. It was double-breasted, four-on-six, with three buttons on the cuffs and no vents. It had conservative shoulders. I looked more closely. The gold-colored buttons bore the stamp, “G&H.”
I could feel my palms beginning to sweat.