By Beacon Staff

Twenty-five years ago, I was scheduled to be a guest speaker at a black-tie fundraising dinner in Portland, Ore. I didn’t have a black tie, nor did I have the tuxedo to go with it. After half a dozen phone calls to tuxedo renting companies, I discovered that it was too expensive to rent one in Los Angeles for the three-day weekend, so I decided to wait until I got to Portland and just rent one for the night.

At dinner a week or so before the event, the woman I was dating at the time, who later became my wife Laurie, wisely said, “Why don’t you buy one instead? Think of it as an investment. At the rate our romance is growing you can wear it a few times, then, if we ever get married, you can wear it at our wedding. If you compare it against the rental costs, and amortize it against the purchase price, you’ll be money ahead when you get buried in it.”

Two years later, I married the woman I was dating who suggested I buy the tuxedo, and I am now many rentals ahead of the price of buying one and I no longer have to die to amortize the purchase price by wearing it. I listened to Laurie and my tuxedo still hangs in my closet at home.

Now when you wear a tuxedo, you get to wear a cummerbund, and when I have to wear my tuxedo that well-designed accessory covers up any waistline growth I may have. I have been fortunate in being able to wear the same size pants for the last 35 years. I don’t know whether it has been luck or that I am just too cheap to buy new clothes every year.

When Laurie and I got married she said, “I got a dose of polyester poisoning every time I went into your closet and most of your pants had bell-bottoms.” I happened to like bell-bottom pants thanks to my almost four years as a sailor in the navy.

A couple of years after we got married, I was looking for a pair of my favorite bell-bottom pants and discovered that she had gradually given them to the Goodwill and replaced them with more contemporary shaped Levi’s.

That was about the time in my life that I finally came to the conclusion that women go shopping and men go buying. Have you ever asked another guy to go tool shopping with you? No! You figure out something that you need and go buy it and come back home with it.

Women on the other hand, really like a day at the mall just looking at stuff to buy. They go to the mall to have lunch and wind up with the back of their SUV full of stuff they didn’t know they desperately needed, until they tried it on in that cute little shop that wasn’t there a couple of weeks ago or the last time they visited the mall, whichever came last.

What if the government invented a “National Shopping Day” when everyone could get a 75 percent discount on anything they bought? Everyone would venture forth with some of the stimulus money they got with their extended unemployment benefits and buy stuff such as a larger flat screen TVs. It doesn’t matter what it is that you buy. Just buy stuff and then the factories will have to manufacture more of whatever stuff you bought. Maybe some of the shutdown factories will reopen and make more of the un-needed stuff.

I can only speak firsthand about buying clothes. If the garment industry had to depend on people such as myself, who have gone 26 years between purchases of a tuxedo, they would not possibly be doing very well. All I have to do now is keep my waistline thin for the rest of my life and as my wife said, “You can wear it at your funeral and be money ahead.”

That’s a good idea but what good is it to be money ahead at your own funeral, even if you are wearing a fully amortized tuxedo?