This is my final thing to say as The Pfister Narrator…believe me, it’s not the final thing to say as Jonathan West.
I’d like to take you back to July 7th, 2001. On that hot summer day, a stocky, dark-haired figure sauntered into the lobby of the Pfister Hotel. His palms were sweaty and perspiration soaked his t-shirt. He was nervous, his stomach flipping with anxiety. The Pfister didn’t really feel like his sort of joint. His finances were stretched, work was weighing down on him, and a hand injury that he had suffered weeks before left him without feeling in two of his fingers; tough stuff for a guy who liked to write stories about his life and sappy love notes to the woman who had agreed to marry him. But underneath it all, that guy (it’s me, folks, if you were confused by the reference to dark-hair, something that I actually had back at the turn of the last century) was just another schlub who was easily distracted by grandeur and unnerved by the feast of the senses offered at the Pfister.
My trip those many years ago was made in anticipation of the single greatest day of my life. I speak of the day I stood in front of another group of people and said, “I do!” to a dishy lady who was not short on opinions and somehow could schedule her life and mine for the next 17 years while chatting with me on a 9-mile jog. Paula Maria Suozzi had stolen my heart, and because we were getting married in six days, I had come to the Pfister to buy a shirt.
I was lucky that a classy lady had agreed to marry me, so I had made my own decision to show up for my wedding day in a classy shirt. Back then, that meant one thing for a man of distinction living the large life in Milwaukee. “Get thee to Roger Stevens at The Pfister, sir!” was the herald’s call when a nice shirt was warranted.
I had saved up a few Lincolns…well, truth be told, a few Franklins…so I’d be able to pick up a swell shirt. I was not to stray, and my finances wouldn’t really let me, so my shopping list had one item on it, and one item alone. A pink shirt.
I probably should have seen it coming, the moment I walked into Roger Stevens. I immediately became distracted. No way was I getting out with only the new shirt I was going to have on my back. When I saw the wall of bow ties, I knew there was going to be trouble.
I’ve been a bow tie man for a long time. In planning for my wedding day, I had in mind a certain tie from my carefully curated collection that I would wear. But that plan vaporized when I got distracted by a simple, elegant bow tie that I knew would go perfectly with my soon-to-be-bride’s dress. I did a little quick math in my head, kept the cash I had in my pocket, pulled out a credit card stressed to the point of exploding, and bought a gorgeous pink shirt and a patterned bow tie with an elegant dark red, black and gray pattern.
The tie was ideal. It was a perfect accompaniment to Paula’s dress. We marched down the aisle, celebrated with our family, and capped off the day of our wedding by checking into the Pfister for our first overnight stay as husband and wife. Our marriage was off and running as we sunk deep into the luxury of the Pfister, a perfect couple stylish beyond belief and ready to tackle anything that came our way. My own distraction had worked like a charm this time.
But distraction wasn’t always so fruitful for me as we left the Pfister after our wedding night and started to live life. I had spent a lot of my life coasting by, indulging in distractions that were not necessarily the best or healthiest things for me. My distractions brought about a tendency towards bad planning and bad choices. Perhaps a smarter man would have learned his lessons earlier, but I kept getting distracted never really fully working towards the life I dreamed of living as a man, husband, provider, artist and first and foremost, a writer.
As my distractions diverted me from doing the hard work I needed to do towards all my life’s pursuits, my wife’s laser focus became sharper and sharper. Never one to mince words, Paula kept at me, verbally giving my keister a kick until distractions could no longer be a constant excuse I could hide behind. Paula, more than anyone, kept saying, “You can do this, you numbskull…just focus.”
Which leads me to today and the capstone on a most extraordinary year. A little over a year ago I had left a good job with a vague idea of “wanting to write more.” I was reminded around that time that the Pfister was in its annual cycle of looking for new candidates to fill the Narrator role. I had applied to be the Pfister Narrator a couple of times before, but in each attempt, I had done it sort of half-heartedly, pretty distracted by everything around me. When I mentioned throwing my hat in the ring one more time, who do you think was the first to tell me to step up my game, clear away all the distractions and get to work? I continue to call her the prettiest lady I know with the sharpest mind to boot.
When I think of my final bow as the Narrator, it’s a simple choice. It’s the one that I was distracted by many years ago here at the Pfister. Though I’m no longer a drinker, I proudly am tying one on in celebration of the Pfister, forever for me a symbol of incredible possibility, a place for great starts and legendary endings.
Thanks for reading. My heart is full with gratitude for a year of bliss.
Follow me on Twitter @jonathantwest for more smart remarks and snappy retorts.