A Mannequin in a Brooks Brothers Display Window Awakens to Discover That He Has Been Dressed for Summer

Sloan Schang is a mannequin of wealth and taste.

Illustration by Hallie Bateman

Oh glorious morning, another splendid day for standing in the library with my books. Let’s see then, I’ll just put on my eyeglasses and — ho ho, what’s this? It appears that the staff has taken the initiative to dress me for summer on the Cape! How delightful to wake and find yourself transported to the shore, wearing Bermuda shorts and a signature crested polo, both perfectly pressed. This looks like the work of Consuela; you know she’s an absolute magician with the laundry. My father Rutherford Braxton, the founder of Braxton Amalgamated International, always said, “Fielding, the most important investment you can make is hiring a servant who keeps you looking rich.” Sadly, father had a heavy hand with the help, but then you don’t build empires with kindness, do you? I’m just grateful that these are gentler times. Now one needs only the whisper of deportation to keep the linens crisp as the day they were cut.

Now let’s see, it appears that I have absolutely everything I need here for a perfect summer: A wicker basket with two bottles of San Pellegrino, my monogrammed leather satchel full of freshly shucked corn, an heirloom lobster pot, a life preserver (god forbid), my darling second wife Margot and our two smartly dressed children Astor and Astoria. Astor, come here and let me turn that polo collar up. How many times have I told you that a flat collar is a working collar? You must, at all times, let people know that you’re a Braxton and that for a Braxton, only a grass tennis court will suffice.

Oh how wonderful it is to feel the fresh salt air on my legs again! Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy wearing my navy Fitzgerald Saxon Herringbone suit, standing beside my older brother Rutherford Jr. who is usually looking dapper in his own pinstriped Regent Fit. Of course our father was a straight herringbone man, like me. I can still picture him in his best charcoal gray, charging towards the boardroom, the sharp clap of his alligator wingtips on the marble floor in the moment before he swung the doors wide with the confidence of a true captain of industry! It’s those memories that fortify me in the darkest winter months, because a man can only endure so many grueling days of standing in the library, gazing at an antique wooden globe, before he feels the urgent call of a fully-staffed waterfront estate in Chatham.

Speaking of our dear Chatham, it appears the Abercrombies are finally awake and milling about. Margot, these shirtless buffoons are a red tide upon our pristine summer shores! You there, the slack jawed rube who’s gawking at my seagull embroidered Bermuda shorts. No, “them ain’t pelicans,” you imbecile, they are the Great Black-backed Gulls of Cape Cod. Let me ask you, have you ever seen the silhouette of a Great Black against sunset on the Cape? Of course you haven’t. I know what you probably have seen a lot of however: Your mother passed out on the sofa, wearing a tattered J.C. Penney nightgown stained with the dribble of box wine, oblivious as usual to the beginning of another public school day.

I know, Margot, my blood pressure. It’s just that father would be devastated if he could see what this town is becoming. Still, it is a glorious day, isn’t it? And to think, a whole summer ahead of us!

Say, do you hear that? Astoria, bring daddy the Country Club Stripe beach tote, I do believe my Blackberry is ringing. It’s probably my accountant with yet another portfolio update. Blast! I can’t find anything in this tote when it’s stuffed so full of ultra-plush terry towels! If the kids weren’t here right now I would boot one of these goddamned decorative buoys right into the infinity pool! Hang on now, Fielding, just listen to yourself. Do you see what work does to you? Get a grip, man! You’re a Braxton and a Braxton never sweats the small stuff, not in the boardroom and certainly not on the Cape. Now take a deep breath.  Dab your forehead with a checked Tatersall pocket square, crack open a San Pellegrino and for once in your life just let the damn thing ring.


Illustration by Hallie Bateman

Sloan Schang is a writer in Portland, Oregon. He has contributed to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Morning News, Thought Catalog, The Bygone Bureau, Hobart, McSweeney’s Book of Politics and Musicals, McSweeney’s Quarterly, and to a variety of other printed publications. He's also on Twitter.