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Finding Henry’s

You know how it is, because it’s a universal if regrettable experience, like stepping on a cowpat or getting caught without an umbrella. This time it was spilling curry on my all-time favorite dress shirt, which then had to be put out of its pain because people think you’re weird if you go around wearing curry on your shirt.

Whatever, I wasted a whole week looking for an exact replacement, because me and the shirt go back a long time, and I owe it that.

Well, and this is where the universal bit comes in, it turns out that of the 22 million different shirt styles sold that year, mine was a one-off, never repeated, totally unique. Despite that fact, I never stopped looking.

I looked in Memphis, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo, so that I got to be an expert on the subject of shirts and, believe you me, there are an awful lot of shirt styles. Well, not to bore you with the details, someone said to me at a swank cocktail bar as I was going around as usual peering at shirtfronts, “Haven’t you tried Henry’s?”

So whoever heard of Henry’s? But I wouldn’t let my informant go until he’d drawn me a map and, wouldn’t you know it, it was on 42nd street, not 10 blocks away. So I thanked my host and got myself a taxi which, considering it was raining, was an unusual piece of luck, and zeroed in on Henry’s.

Now the odd thing is that I had probably gone by there at least once a day for several years, but never noticed it, possibly because it was the least imposing shop on the whole block, but possibly also because, knowing my need, the normal laws of nature were suspended. And this could well be, because inside was a kind of wonderland. Henry seemed to have everything a man could possibly need, except an old-fashioned steam locomotive.

Moreover, although the front was undeniably narrow, it stretched back for nearly a whole block and had eight floors, so there was room for everything.

And there I found my shirt, so I’m not afraid to say I cried. It was like talking to your long-dead sister, or meeting the Pope in the men’s room. And while I was at it, I started looking for my other lost friends: a pair of brown apron-front brogues that had mysteriously disappeared three years ago; a leather wallet you could hook on your belt with a chain which a clever thief had taken off me by cutting the chain, and lots more, as they say.

Well I’ve been talking up Henry’s ever since, and no one’s ever come back and complained, so I have to believe there’s some kind of trick to it. Maybe they hypnotize you as you go in, and you just believe you got exactly what you wanted, but you’d think Macy’s had discovered a secret like that by now.

Though come to think of it, Macy’s has a pretty good selection to choose from. But Macy’s is more for our wives, who go into a store with no particular idea in mind, being happy to be persuaded. In fact I have suggested to Henry advertising as “Macy’s for Men” but he says he doesn’t need to advertise, as every discriminating male in New York knows where to go when he needs something bad enough to pay his price.

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