My wife and I were watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow this evening and saw a spot about a pair of cufflinks that turned out to be worth a lot of money.
That reminded me of the first and only pair of cufflinks I ever owned. Back when I was an undergraduate in the mid-1970s at the private, historically black Huston-Tillotson College (now H-T University), in Austin, Texas, a wealthy, successful white businessman who was fond of my English professor bought me a suit, dress shoes, tie, and cufflinks.
I was ambivalent about the gift as I was being fitted for the suit at the men’s store in downtown Austin.
I wasn’t sure what cufflinks were supposed to do for me. I suppose I shouldn’t judge the guy too harshly. After all, he was just trying to be generous—and probably trying to impress my English professor.
It was the 1970s and it was not a great time for black people in America. There was violent racism of course. There was also a sort of paternalistic generosity which may have emphasized superficial symbols of economic success.
Anyway, after a while the shoes started to squeak. I outgrew the suit. Despite those losses, I became successful through hard work and good luck.
I lost the cufflinks.