The Pursuit of Happiness


I went to the eye doctor last week. He came into the room wearing a musty T-shirt and tired blue jeans. “Dan, let’s pray together before your exam,” he said. “You bet,” I said, and took the lead. “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou…”

…it was fun to watch confusion, anxiety, and surprise duel for first place on his face. Obviously, he hasn’t run into too many papists in his practice, and though I’m a Bad Catholic living in End Times – certainly my own End Times – I still like a little rigor and order when it comes to prayer. Anyway, it was the fastest eye exam I’ve ever had.

I don’t care that the doc wasn’t dressed like Marcus Welby, M.D., or even like a grown-up. But I remember when my mother came for an extended visit and, on her first morning there, burst into tears when I came down to breakfast wearing a suit and tie, ready for work. She’d been a waitress and food service worker her whole life, and my dad was a truck driver. Anybody who wore a suit and tie in their working-class world was a big success and made lots of money. She didn’t understand I’d spend the next 40 years sleeping in cheap hotels waiting for planes, trains, and automobiles.

When I got out of school, I bought John Molloy’s book Dress for Success. Among Molloy’s rules was “Never wear brown suits because they could make your Jewish customers feel uncomfortable” and “Successful men wear Wingtips.” I’ve still got a pair of black Florsheims stuck away somewhere.

Things change. Now, the only people in town wearing ties are lawyers trying to keep some meathead out of the tank, and every other guy on the street looks and acts like Jeremiah Johnson – even though he has panic attacks when he can’t find the Charmin at Walmart. But… so what? Thirty years ago, you’d go to jail for life if you got caught smoking a J; now, Aurora Cannabis trades for close to 12 bucks on Wall Street.  

That’s this week’s column. May the Lord be with you.


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