A few weeks ago, I was at a brewery celebrating a friend’s birthday when my buddy Steven reminded me of something I used to do in college. Important note: it appears as if this was not something that I had done once, but something that I used to do too often. I’d like to preface this story by telling you the conclusion of it: I did end up graduating college, but stories like this make me hard pressed to believe I made Cal State Long Beach beam with pride during my tenure. I asked Steven to text me the story:
"When we were in college, you bought a pack of lined paper and just carried it around in its original plastic wrap taking out sheets as you needed them. Also you didn’t ever have a pencil or pen because ‘other people have extras.’"
As Steven detailed, I, instead of buying a spiral notebook like every other student on campus, opted to cut out the middleman and just carry around a plastic pack of lined paper (why??????). If I needed a piece of paper for the class, I would just take one single loose sheet out and write on it, allegedly with someone else’s pencil. I would then smash the rogue piece of paper that now has like $4000 worth of crinkled and possibly ripped information on it back into the flimsy, torn, plastic wrapping to refer it to it later. As you can imagine, these single sheets of white lined paper were predictably hard to locate when I attempted to learn an entire semester’s worth of course content three hours before the final exam. I assume I did this until either I ran out of paper or the semester ended, whichever came first. If I ran out of paper before the semester ended I guess I just stopped learning?
This highlights my most prominent personality trait: as just a general human being, I am a mess.
My friends and family (hi mom!) might say that I’m being too harsh, but they’re wrong---I’m an absolute dumpster-fire of a human. There are plenty of pieces of evidence supporting that thesis:
- I eat more Sbarro than a human body can process.
- I have holes in nearly all of my underwear.
- I am constantly having to find the nearest gas station because I’ve been at "Zero Miles Remaining" for like fifteen minutes.
- I often have to pay money to ATMs to access my own money because I forgot cash yet again.
- I make U-turns all-too-frequently because I often space out while driving.
- I wander through parking garages daily hitting my panic button on my keychain to try and find where I parked my own car like fifteen minutes ago.
None of these are things to be proud of, but I succumb to these incredibly predictable and destructive things with regularity. My family is nice, but I know the truth. I am a mess. I didn’t think I’d be this much of a mess at thirty.
Recently, however, I underwent a life-changing event. After years of buying Target-brand suits in an attempt to trick various managers into thinking that I am employable, I made the Extremely Adult Decision to buy a real suit. Okay, I was forced to buy the suit--I was a groomsman in my buddy’s wedding (#FallForThe Pinedas), and we all bought the same matching suits--but I bought it nonetheless. I put my money where my adulthood was and bought the damn thing, probably against the advice of my financial adviser.
It was a life-changing event because this suit is absolutely bananas. I’m not sure if it’s simply the juxtaposition between Target suits and a real one, or if this one is actually legitimately nice, but either way it is a thing of beauty. I even had to go to a fitting to get all my shapely curves accurately measured, which was in stark contrast to my usual suit-buying routine of just blindly hoping my arms are still the same length as the last time I went Target suit buying. Not only were my waist and shoulders measured, but my calves, thighs, and many other deep crevasses I haven't seen in years were also subjected to the yellow measuring tape gripping them. The suit is perfect, though. It is dark blue, has my own custom lining, comes with a fancy-ass pocket square, and is perfectly proportioned to my penguin-shaped body.
This suit is BANGING. It fits everywhere. I finally have a bulge! I look like I have a fuck-ton of money to my name all because I no longer look like two toddlers stacked on top of each other when I wear a suit. I am reborn in this suit. People think I have my shit together. Even if they don’t think I have my shit together, at the very least, people don’t think I’m a weird adult mess when I wear it. To go even deeper, this suit represents Potential.
The benefits of getting a fitted suit are as follows: 1) finding out you have tree trunks for legs 2) convincing the guy measuring you that you’ll actually drop some weight before the wedding so he can round down on the waist and 3) getting a suit to have that actually gives off the impression you are not the trainwreck you are beneath the jacket.
To put it as awkwardly as possible, Anthony Rendon is my suit. The Angels, like me, are a mess. For the many reasons detailed here, and also because, in a cheap cost-controlled 5 win player like Shohei Ohtani and the world’s best player in Mike Trout, they have two of the largest headstarts in the major leagues. They have failed to put even a facsimile of a contending team around them. This has been well documented. Everybody knows these to be the facts. The front office has failed to finish the race, despite having this enormous lead at the starting line. They are a mess like me.
But the Angels with Anthony Rendon could be me with The Suit! He could be a bridge to adulthood, or in this case, a bridge to a winning team. Sometimes you have to pay a whole bunch of money to get the new suit (like $245 million dollars), but the benefits of having at least one good suit to wear (or one new shiny free agent to oogle at) go far beyond the strictly economic cost/benfit analysis. Anthony Rendon, like The Suit, would represent to the world that, at least while it’s on my body (or while he’s manning third), the world (the major leagues) should take me (the Angels) seriously. Anthony Rendon’s value is much more vast to the Angels than just what his $/WAR ends up being at the end of whatever deal he signs. Every day, the Angels are going to have Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Anthony Rendon on the field, and they will probably win. While I don't wear this suit everyday, at least once a week, I am taken seriously as a #professionalperson.
The other four days of the week, I’m still a mess--and with no other free agent signings, the Angels will be too. The Suit doesn’t change the mess which lies beneath, it merely covers up the noticeable rough-edges for long enough for them to appear smooth for a few hours. Anthony Rendon doesn’t represent the finished product of a World Series winning team, nor does The Suit represent a completely real adult person. But he and it both represent the beginning of something that could be great one day. They represent Potential.
Potential should be realized at some point, though, and that is the reality that I am currently grappling with. I can no longer maintain my status as a kid with a high, unrealized ceiling---I am now a working professional transitioning from the person who eats ice cream for dinner to a person that makes sure I have enough vegetables per week. I am privileged enough to have a 401k plan, health insurance, and people who like me. I am trying to reward the faith that all of my loved ones have shown in me thus far throughout my life. By purchasing and wearing this nice suit, I am showing the world that I am ready (or will be ready) for the things that come up from here on out.
Stretching the metaphor to its illogical conclusion, the Angels, after a 90 loss season and years of low achieving mediocrity before that, need to prove to the people that love them that they are serious about themselves as well. They should be held accountable for the all of the inaction they take. They have Mike Trout (my 401k), Shohei Ohtani (health insurance), and people who like them (us). It's time they complete their rite of passage and traverse into contender status, rewarding all of us for our faith all along.
Perhaps your suit is not a literal suit---but I really do think everybody has their own version of The Suit; an inflection point about who they ought to start being. It could be a literal suit, it could be a responsibility that was shoved onto you, or it could be the extremely plausible scenario where you run a major league baseball team and Anthony Rendon wants to commit long term to you despite your track record being immature and underachieving. But we all have one.
I think mine is now. Maybe I’ll start throwing away my old, holey underwear and start being mindful of where I parked my car. Maybe I won’t! Who knows! Life’s a mystery and I’m not ready to find out what happens next. But I wear a cool, expensive, real life suit, and it makes the world notice me. Hopefully my favorite baseball team will grow up and buy a suit as well.