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i don’t know … but

One of my passions is great advertising. I am a huge fan of print ads (as long as they’re still around) and really admire classic TV commercials — many of them (if not most) from the ’60s and ’70s (which sort of dovetails nicely with my love of Mad Men). I’ve been known to burst into song spontaneously, singing the jingles to seemingly unrelated TV spots — “plop, plop, fizz, fizz;” “a Coke and a smile;” “I agree that Pop’s the sound, you’ve gotta have Crackle or the clock’s not wound;” “my bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R” — you get it. And forever in my heart, I’ll always have a special place for a 1970 commercial for Barneys New York (then known as Barney’s). This spot was created before Barneys became just too fabulous; at the time, it was a men’s clothing store in New York with one location, on Seventh Avenue and 17th Street.

Entitled “Men of Destiny,” the commercial featured five little boys sitting on a city stoop, each dreaming of what he’ll be when he grows up. Humphrey (Bogart) is going to be an actor; Louis (Armstrong) dreams of being a horn player; Fiorello (LaGuardia) plans on being the mayor of New York City; and Casey (Stengel) is going to be in the World Series. Then the kids ask Barney, a
spectacled little kid in a suit, what he wants to be. The response: “I don’t know, but you’re all gonna need clothes.”

The commercial (see it here) is funny, brilliant, adorable — and for that I give it tons of kudos. But my special fondness for it came 26 years later, when B. and I reconnected on a long-distance phone call after many years of having lost touch. In the midst of this marathon call, B. said (about what, I can’t remember), “I don’t know …”

And I responded, “… but you’re all gonna need clothes.”

Apparently, that’s what did it. B. claims that when he heard me finish his line he knew for sure that we were destined to be together (of course, I’d known that for years, but whatever it takes).

So thanks, Barney. By the way, nice suit.

© 2012 Claudia Grossman

2 comments on “i don’t know … but

  1. Ha! Funny piece and an awesome commercial. But the kicker is that I remember sitting at the Elephant Bar with umm B and hearing about that phone call. Hugs to both.

  2. Thanks, Roberto — hugs right back to you!

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