Water Stains & Ties

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I put on a suit yesterday. My father is a retired attorney, I remember he wore a tie every workday at a minimum, sometimes with a sport coat, occasionally with a full suit.

I also remember my father grimacing with his nose bent up to the bathroom mirror as he plucked his nose hairs with tweezers a few times a week as part of his bathroom routine. Thank God for Braun® Nose Hair Trimmers.

Later, much later, after he retired, I remember pops saying “I can’t believe I wore a tie every day, it feels awful.”  Which humanized him to me, brought him to the 21st century. When he worked he was a stoic guy, so the statement kind of showed how his worldview had flipped, which is always interesting to witness.

I have a bunch of “business casual” clothes I bought when I was relatively fit, which is of course a huge financial mistake as their fit-ability is measured in weeks, if not days. I may as well have lit some cash on fire and flushed it down the toilet. My return on investment for these clothes has to be about 1.5%, which, adjusted for inflation on a 10-year scale is really about -.5%.  I’m kind using words I don’t fully understand here, for the record. I think I wore these clothes for approximately 1.5 weeks. 

So when I knew I had to put on a suit yesterday I also knew I was knee-jerking to the suit because my alternative wardrobe would be so constricting I wouldn’t be able to breathe and could possibly get arrested since my pants would be at mid-thigh and certainly not fastened.

The scary part was I hadn’t tried the suit on for quite some time. Subsequently I waited until the night before to try it on. Because that makes sense, just roll the dice, wait until the last possible moment to see how screwed you are. I was living in fear and denial regarding a suit from Men’s Warehouse. Nothing against Men’s Warehouse, I’m just saying it’s not like it’s a $7,000 Dolce & Gabanna job. 

As luck would have it, this nondescript-standard-safe-grey-possibly-out-of-style-because-the-pants-are-sort-of-baggy-at-the-bottom-but-what-do-I-know suit must have been purchased at a more robust time of my life because it fit quite comfortably. Really comfortable, actually.

Until the next morning when I had to tie the tie. That top button on a dress shirt is certainly not jowl friendly. I wonder if someone could put some spandex in dress shirt collars, so they have a more control top execution.  Regardless, I got it to work.

The rest of my morning involved a lot of uncomfortable walking, fidgeting and hesitation as I adjusted to the feel of the unfamiliar garment and grew steadily concerned something would spill on it. I’m pretty sure water on a tie stains the tie somehow. Although, that may be a myth, like the time my dad caught me spreading his shaving cream all over my face (I was 9) and told me leaving it on too long stains your skin, at which point I frantically washed it all off as he smirked and walked away. However, I believed this was the case well into my twenties and thus shaved with such rapidity and efficiency during my getting ready routine that I developed a reputation as a very punctual, if not razor burned, working professional. 

So yesterday I’d wash my hands awkwardly bent over the sink, hips and torso extended as far back from the splashing water as possible. I briefly considered skipping the hand washing, then realized sacrificing public health for the purity of my tie was just a bit selfish.

Coffee was out of the question. I’m the guy who, whenever using any portable drinking vessel, has that little bit of coffee-infused condensation spill on his chin and possibly clothes, if not the actual stain-inducing substance itself. 

The car ride to my destination (job interview after dropping my son of at school) involved 29 steps, but I’ll just outline a few. First, load a change of clothes in the back so immediately post interview I could change into normal human clothes (which included some slim-legged but latex-waisted jeans, of a sort). But I needed normal non-dress shoes too, so grab those. And grab a spare tie in case something happens to this one. Then don’t just hop into the car, hang you suit coat on a hanger in the back so it doesn’t get all wrinkled by the seatbelt, but not on the passenger side as that restricts one’s view of the blind spot, do it right behind the drivers seat. Somehow I ended up with a pair of socks and a baseball cap too, not sure if I thought I was going to the beach afterword, or to catch spring training, or moving to my own apartment because my wife has finally had enough.

My son, finally realizing my attire was drastically different from my casual norm, promptly asked if I was wearing a clip-on tie as we were getting into the car. I told him no, in that kind of whiny-that’s-ridiculous-and-insulting tone, at which point he tugs on it as he simply doesn’t believe me. I see my reputation with this 5th grader needs some refinement. 

After a harrowing, wrinkle-avoiding school drop off, an anxiety-ridden pitstop to buy a water at a coffee shop so I could use their facilities for a suddenly necessary bathroom break thanks to my extreme level of hydration, a moderately long commute and a last-second removal of dog hair in the parking lot, I was ready to walk in for my interview. 

It turns out my meeting was with the principle of the entire organization. Very accommodating, very nice, she spoke with a nice inflection and was complimentary about my attire, then pointed out that it was entirely unnecessary to wear a suit, although she understood the sentiment to overprepare, but this was a casual office, and she even considered dressing up but determined it would be counter-productive to communicating the casual but professional environ and culture they work so hard to cultivate. 

Which was great, because the knot in my tie was really somewhat sloppy, I’ve never bothered to learn the Double Windsor. When I left, she said I don’t have to wear a suit if I’m called back. I told her I’d wear a sport coat.

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