It's not about the house.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome To Americaville! Elks Initiation: Part 1

I know, I know, about the plate-poem. But this is just too rich. Seriously, you all have a long weekend, you can tune in later to read about my plates. So...

Where should I begin?

Okay, because I’m me, I’ll begin a month or so ago, when a friend of Andy’s died and Johnny met him at the pub after the funeral. Johnny was glad to see that Andy’d worn a sportcoat to the service, but mortified at what he he’d paired it with. Jeans. Ratty sneakers. Open collar. No tie. Etcetera.

“You need to get yourself a suit,” Johnny advised him. “Dark, but not straight-black. Get a tie and a good dress shirt. Choose right, and you’ll be set for life. Your suit will be there for you when the occasion should arise.”

Andy’s a mechanic, remember, and Johnny’s a painter. One of each is all either of them ever need.

“And,” Johnny added, glancing at his buddy’s shirtfront. “Don’t wear the good one to the ravioli parties.”

Andy took this advice to heart, but didn’t put it into action straight away. Johnny told me, as we waited at the Elks bar this evening for the initiate to show, that Andy’d been to Burlington Coat Factory this very afternoon.

(And I don’t want to hear from any fashion snobs about his choice of tailor. Someday, if you are very lucky, you will hear the story of how Johnny learned his One Suit lesson the hard way, in a white-out snowstorm, at the Quincy WalMarts on the eve of his mother’s Dublin funeral.)

(He has since replaced that suit. But still.)

I’d never seen Andy in anything but jeans and hoodies. Day-glo orange t-shirts worn for safety at his job. The occasional – occasional – lumberjack flannel. I couldn’t wait to see him in a suit! So I sipped my beer and made over-the-shoulder glances at the entryway every fifteen seconds.

I didn’t even see him when he finally came in. Just heard his voice from over the wrong shoulder. Turned my head, and there was Andy. In a (slightly too small but) dapper (nonetheless), three-button (with the bottom two buttons fastened and the top one left undone), dark-grey and pinstripe number. And underneath...

A brilliant, blood-red shirt.

He had a black-and-red striped necktie draped around his collar, waiting for someone who knew how to make the knot. And, as it turned out, he wasn’t wearing pinstriped pants. He hadn’t had the patience to wait around to have them hemmed, seeing as how there was a perfectly good sewing machine at his house, but when he’d gotten home the sewing machine went kablooey, so he’d donned a pair of dark chinos instead.

Thank god for kablooey sewing machines, is all I have to say.

I tied his tie for him around my own neck, and passed it over. I offered a fashion opinion regarding which buttons to leave undone on a three-button suit. I told him he looked smashing, and asked how did he feel? “Swell,” he said. “They finally made a monkey out of me.”

Finally, Johnny couldn’t stand it any longer. “What the hell,” he demanded, over our second cocktail, “made you decide to buy a bloody red shirt?”

“Well,” explained our Andy, “I figured it would hide spaghetti stains.”

That it will.

I did, however (and gently, I hope), tell him he’d have to have a second shirt on hand for funerals.

He understood.

Next: Dinner!


Sparkle Plenty said...

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Now, THAT'S the ticket. You were not brainwashed or sworn to secrecy. I can't wait for the next episode! said...

I'm having flashbacks to shopping for a quick suit at H&M for the Fiance so he could attend my Dad's funeral.

Nothing like grieving in a mall. Ugh.

The red shirt is funny as shit and I love the spaghetti rationale.

Khurston said...

HOW is there no comment here from MD about dad's red polyester pants!?